Phillip Evans

Strange But True Mets Minor League Facts

As we head into the 2018 season, we have seen some of these Mets prospects for a few years now, and we have made some assumptions about these players. Some of those assumptions are right on the money, and some of them, not so much. There may be some facts when brought to life which may surprise many of us. With that in mind, here are some facts about the Mets minor leagues which are sure to surprise you.

No. 1 Sandy’s First Draft Produced 11 Major Leaguers

When Sandy Alderson was entasked with rebuilding the Mets farm system, he and his staff went right to work with the 2011 draft. That draft was quite effective with the Mets producing 11 Major Leaguers from that draft.

1st Round: Brandon Nimmo & Michael Fulmer
2nd Round: Cory Mazzoni
3rd Round: Logan Verrett
4th Round: Jack Leathersich
8th Round: Daniel Muno
13th Round: Robert Gsellman
15th Round: Phillip Evans
21st Round: John Gant
34th Round: Seth Lugo
35th Round: Chasen Bradford

Almost as incredible, between trades and play on the field, nine of those players either played for a Mets team that made the postseason or were traded for a player who contributed to a Mets team that made the postseason.

No. 2 Vientos Same Age As Kranepool Was When Kranepool Debuted in the Majors

Last year, Mets second round pick Mark Vientos was the youngest player drafted at 17 years old. Amazingly, this is the same age Mets Hall of Famer Ed Kranepool was when he made his MLB debut. As a matter of fact, Kranepool was just a little more than four months older in his MLB debut than Vientos was when he made his debut in professional baseball playing in the Gulf Coast League.

No. 3 Alonso Only Player to Homer off Smith Prior to the Trade Deadline

When the New York Mets traded Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays for right-handed relief prospect Drew Smith, the one stat which immediately jumped off his Baseball Reference page was the fact he had allowed just one home run all season. The person who hit that home run was his future teammate Peter Alonso. On the home run, Smith would tell MMN’s Mathew Brownstein, Alonso “brings it up probably once a week (laughs). But that’s just part of it.”

No. 4 Nimmo Drew More Walks Than Rosario in Triple-A

Last year with all of the injuries, it seemed as if Nimmo spent most if not all of his 2017 season in the majors. To a certain extent that is true with him playing just 42 games in Triple-A. That was actually 52 fewer games than Amed Rosario had in Triple-A last year. Overall, Rosario would have 227 more plate appearances for the 51s than Nimmo would have. And yet, despite all of that, Nimmo would draw 10 more walks than Rosario did in Triple-A.

No. 5 DeFrancesco’s First MLB Win Came Against the Mets

In the offseason, the Mets hired the Houston Astros Triple-A Manager Tony DeFrancesco. DeFrancesco had been a manager in the Astros organization since 2011, and during that time, he did get a 41 game opportunity to manage the Major League club after the team fired Brad Mills. After beginning his managerial career losing five straight, his Astros came to New York to face the Mets. With the Suffern, New York native’s family in the stands, his Astros team won the game 3-1.

A Gsell Of A Win

These are the types of games that have traditionally tripped up the Mets.  Day games.  Get away games.  Games with a rain delay.  All of those things combined have always seemed to get in the Mets way.  Harkening back to 2015, these were all present in the fateful loss against the San Diego Padres which nearly derailed the Mets season.  Those conditions were present today.

With rain waiting, the game had a delayed start until 2:45.  Initially, all seemed well for the Mets.

Yoenis Cespedes hit a monster two run homer off Aaron Nola to give the Mets an early 2-0 lead.  Noah Syndergaard would start the game striking out five Phillies over the first two innings.  Then, all of a sudden, everything would come off the rails in a 36 pitch third inning for Syndergaard.

The odd thing for Syndergaard was even though he was in trouble he was so close to getting out of it.  There were runners on first and second with one out after a Carlos Santana double.  After a Nick Williams RBI groundout, Syndergaard was well in position to get out of a tough inning with the Mets still having a 2-1 lead.

Surprisingly, Syndergaard, who typically has excellent control, immediately went 3-0 against Rhys Hoskins.  He battled back into the count in what was an eight pitch at-bat where he then couldn’t put Hoskins away.  On the eighth pitch, he walked Hoskins.  That walk proved important.

With Aaron Altherr down 1-2 in the count, Hoskins broke too early for second, and it looked like he was picked off.  The ball went to second with Asdrubal Cabrera covering, and he walked back Hoskins while keeping an eye on Santana.  After Cabrera flipped it to Adrian Gonzalez, Hoskins ran out of the baseline (not called), and Santana beat Gonzalez’s throw home.

The game was tied at 2-2.  At that point, Syndergaard wasn’t going to be able to make it through five innings, and the Mets offense had just one hit after the Cespedes homer.  This made this the type of game you’d expect the Mets of very recent vintage to blow.

However, Robert Gsellman came out of the bullpen and gave the Mets a lift.  He was nearly as impressive as Seth Lugo was yesterday throwing two hitless innings while striking out three.  Like Lugo, Gsellman gave the Mets a shot in the arm and a real chance to win.

That chance came in the sixth when Nola, who was infamously lifted by Gabe Kapler on Opening Day after 5.2 innings, walked Cabrera to start the sixth.  After a Gonzalez lineout, Andrew Knapp error, and a Kevin Plawecki ground out, Wilmer Flores pinch hit for Gsellman and drew a walk.  That’s where Amed Rosario, who has hit ninth in every game he has started on the young season, was in prime position to deliver the big hit.

Rosario did a nice job going the other way with the pitch, and he was able to line the ball over Williams, who was playing aggressively in in right field.  The end result was a two run triple giving the Mets a 4-2 lead.

The Mets bullpen, who has had an incredibly strong start to the season, stepped up and shut the door.

Believe it or not, that started with Hansel Robles striking out the side in the seventh.  AJ Ramos and Jeurys Familia would each pitch a scoreless inning a piece to preserve the Mets 4-2 win.

And yes, it is April, which is way too early to focus on these things, but the Mets are now traveling to Washington a half game up in the division and with Jacob deGrom on the mound.

Game Notes: This game was broadcast only on Facebook with former Phillie John Kruk and former Met Cliff Floyd doing the color commentary.  With Michael Conforto being activated from the disabled list, Phillip Evans was optioned down to Triple-A.  He was 0-3 with a strikeout and a GIDP.

2018 Mets Player by Player Projections

As I do from time to time, we need a “completely serious” analysis and projection of each and every Mets player who is expected to contribute during the 2018 season.  While there are many prjoection systems which claim to be fool-proof, there are none that will be this accurate about the Mets:

Sandy Alderson – The other 29 GMs in baseball will be left in complete hysterics when Alderson is calling around for a right-handed reliever to help boost the team’s chances to making the postseason.

Mickey Callaway – The writers will overwhelmingly vote him as the National League Manager of the Year.  The most cited reason for giving him the award will be the fact he didn’t insist on playing his worst players or forcing his players to play through crippling injuries.

Dave Eiland– Multiple Mets pitchers will hug him for actually fixing their mechanics and for listening to them when they say they’re hurting.

Tyler Bashlor – When someone notices how similar his name is to the ABC reality show hit The Bachelor, they’ll say how “The Bashlor” is handing out strikeouts like they’re roses. We should all hate that person.

Jerry Blevins– Until he eats a sandwich, the socks given away in his honor will hang around his ankles

Bryce Brentz– He’s going to be the guy who has one or two at-bats this season, and someone is going to invoke his name as a former Met to try to sound like he knows more about the Mets than you know anything.

Jay Bruce– After a four home run game, all Mets fans will want to talk about is when he is going to move to first base.

Asdrubal Cabrera – After a slump, Callaway will move Cabrera down in the lineup causing Cabrera to bring his kids to the clubhouse and have them ask why Callaway doesn’t want them to eat.

Jamie Callahan– His wearing #43 will serve as a constant reminder that not only was he part of the return for Addison Reed, but also how the Mets turned quality MLB players into six right-handed relief prospects. That will be the worst possible sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Yoenis Cespedes – After an MVP caliber first half, he will feel like he has earned just one game of golf as a reward during the All Star Break.  He will immediately be vilified.

Michael Conforto – After a huge cut and a swing and miss, Conforto will wince for a moment thereby causing a passionate Mets fans behind home plate to have a heart attack.  This will led to a call for the netting to be filled in and for fans to have to watch the game on a tape delay.

Travis d’Arnaud– During a remarkably healthy season, he will finally be forced to catch Syndergaard, who had spent most of the seaosn with Plawecki as his personal catcher.  On the first pitch of the game, Syndergaard throws a 101 MPH fastball which immediately shatters d’Arnaud’s hand.

Jacob deGrom– After a slump, he’s going to look to grow his hair out.  Once he realizes his hair cannot possibly reach it’s old length during the 2018, he’s going to grow a really long beard and change his entrance music to “Legs” by ZZ Top.

Phillip Evans– When he cashes in his check for his postseason share, Evans will fondly remember that April pinch hitting appearance.

Jeurys Familia – After he gives up a seventh inning homer to Conor Gillaspie costing the Mets a game, fans will scream for him to pitch in the ninth inning again.

Wilmer Flores – He will be in such hysterics during his struggles in his first game in the outfield his crying on the field in 2015 will look like a case of the sniffles.

Todd Frazier– It will take many Mets fans a long time to come to grips that Jersey Boy Todd Frazier does not use a Bruce Springsteen song as his walk-up music.  That point will finally come when they realize Frank Sinatra is from Hoboken and not NYC.

Adrian Gonzalez – He will become James Loney2.0.  He will hit well enough for the Mets to stick with him, and the front office will continue to stick with him long after he has since been useful.

Robert Gsellman – As he continues to wait in Las Vegas for his opportunity to get back to the Majors, he will eventually care what Sandy Alderson thinks of him.

Matt HarveyHe’s going to pull a reverse Ben Affleck by going from The Dark Knight moniker to Daredevil.  He will earn that name by following Eiland’s instructions to throw inside with such reckless abandon to the point where people start to question if he’s gone blind.

Juan Lagares – After once again injuring his thumb on a diving attempt, the Mets will finally realize Lagares’ injures were the result of him literally using a gold glove to try to play center.  While they found the answer and solution for the thumb injuries, they will still be perplexed on how to fix his hitting.

Seth Lugo– We won’t know if people keep referring to the hook with him because of his incredible curveball or because of how Callaway won’t let him face a lineup for a third time.

Steven Matz– In addition to the sandwich he has named after him at the Se-port Deli, he will have one named after him at the cafeteria at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Brandon Nimmo– Despite putting up great numbers, the Mets will inform Nimmo they unfortunately have to send him down to Triple-A due to a temporary roster squeeze.  When he’s still smiling through the ordeal, they will force him to seek psychological counseling.

Kevin Plawecki– On a day when the Mets are getting blown out, the frustrated Plawecki will use the last of his six mound visits to derisively tell his pitcher he can pitch better than this. The pitcher will remind him he has a better batting average than Plawecki.

AJ Ramos – After striking out Giancarlo Stanton in a Subway Series game, he’s going to go home and find his friend has moved out of their shared apartment.  Odd Couple style hilarity ensues.

Jose Reyes– One day, he will hit a triple and score on a mad dash to home plate.  He will have that old Reyes smile, and it will electrify the crowd.  It will also cause everyone to forget that he is one of the worst position players in all of baseball.

T.J. Rivera – After he comes off the disabled list, he’ll deliver in the clutch for the Mets and his teammates will honor him as the player of the game.  The Mets will make sure he’s not standing in front of Plawecki’s locker when they take a photo to tweet out.

Hansel Robles– Many will credit him with the discovery of extra terrestrials by his discovery of a UFO in the Vegas night.  Years later, Robles will sheepishly admit all he was doing was pointing up at another homer he allowed.

Amed Rosario– To the surprise of us all, Rosario will strike out looking when the pitcher throws him a pitch which he was surprised at and was not ready to swing at. Entire belief systems will be shattered.

Jacob Rhame– Like Jason Phillips, he will soon realize fans may first like you for the googles and smile in your photo, but really, they’re only going to love you if you produce.

Paul Sewald– After having spent a year with Terry Collins, he’s going to be the player most comfortable with having no defined role in the bullpen.  However, it will be an adjustment for him not having to warm up multiple times per game.

Dominic Smith – When he gets called up to the Majors as part of September call-ups, he will be late on a pitch causing his manager to believe he learned nothing from Spring Training.

Anthony Swarzak – The jokes about not knowing how to spell his name will get old by mid-April.  The jokes will be rediscovered in August when more fans tune it to a Mets team that is a surprising contender.  The jokes will continue to not be funny.

Noah Syndergaard– He will continue his “Twitter Feud” with Mr. Met.  It will be discussed ad nausesum during nationally televised games.  America will think it’s amusing only fueling the spat even further and giving no hope to Mets fans who have long since found this to be unfunny.

Jason Vargas – When Reyes introduces himself, Vargas will remind him they were teammates in 2007.  Both recall that season and will agree it never happened.

Zack Wheeler– He will be converted to a reliever, and in a surprise to us all, he will lead the league in saves. In a surprise to him that league will be the Pacific Coast League.

David Wright– He will apologize and sheepishly admit the Mets crown was an embarrassingly bad idea.  He will try to come up with a way to rectify it, but no one will listen to his ideas on the topic anymore.

What The 2018 Mets Roster Looks Like Right Now

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

Rotation – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler
Bullpen – Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, Seth Lugo

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.

Considering many of the aforementioned pitchers could go to the bullpen, the bullpen also has sufficient depth.  And behind them, the Mets also have David Roseboom, Chase Bradford, and Josh Smoker.

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.

For Thanksgiving, What Each Met Should Be Thankful For

On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:

Nori AokiHe looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.

Jerry BlevinsThroughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.

Chasen BradfordWith his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.

Jay BruceHe learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.

Asdrubal CabreraAs 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 CallahanOne 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 CecchiniHe 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 CespedesWith 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 deGromWith 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.

Lucas Duda – The slugger was the first Mets player traded at the deadline, and he temporarily got to avoid the We Follow Lucas Duda filming.

Josh EdginHe could be the only pitcher in the history of the Mets organization who is capable of getting both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy out.

Phillip EvansAfter 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 FamiliaBlood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.

Chris FlexenAs we learned with Mike Pelfrey, being a Mets pitcher who struggled in the majors after completely skipping Triple-A will get you career earnings of roughly $47 million.

Wilmer FloresHe fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.

Sean GilmartinWith 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 GoeddelNo 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 GrandersonHe had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.

Robert GsellmanHe has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.

Matt HarveyBetween 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 LagaresWith all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.

Seth LugoAs we learned in the WBC and regular season, when he’s blonde, he’s Cy Young the first two times through the order.

Steven MatzWith 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 McGowanHe will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.

Tommy MiloneHe 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 NidoEven 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 NimmoNo one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.

Tyler PillIn 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 RamirezSomehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.

AJ RamosTo him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.

Addison ReedHe was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.

Jose ReyesThe Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.

Matt ReynoldsHe 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 RhameHe’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 RiveraAfter 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.

T.J. Rivera – With Warthen and Ramirez gone, he’s not going to have to worry about anyone mishandling his return from Tommy John.

Hansel RoblesIn his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.

Amed RosarioHe 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 SalasDespite 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 SewaldAs 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 SmithHe 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 SmokerAfter 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 SyndergaardMr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.

Travis TaijeronWith the Dodgers just signing him to a minor league deal, he is now all but assured of becoming the next Justin Turner.

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 WilkBecause 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 WheelerInstead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.

David WrightDespite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.

Terry CollinsAt 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 WarthenHe found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.

Kevin LongAfter departing the Mets, he was able to smuggle the page out of his binders that showed exactly how he turned Daniel Murphy into Babe Ruth.  He can now bring that with him to Washington.

Sandy AldersonCollins 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 FansWell, 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.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Assessing The Mets Second Base Trade Targets

Looking over the free agent roster and the Mets internal options, second base may be the most difficult position to fill.  Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and T.J. Rivera each have the bat, but they don’t have the glove. Additionally, Rivera is coming off of Tommy John surgery.  Gavin Cecchini and Phillip Evans have the glove, but they don’t have the bat.

Accordingly, the Mets may best suited to make a trade for a second baseman.  There are some interesting, yet flawed, candidates available:

Dee Gordon

2017 Stats: .308/.341/.375, 20 2B, 9 3B, 2 HR, 33 RBI, 60 SB, 16 CS
Advanced: 3.4 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR, 94 OPS, 92 wRC+, 3 DRS
Salary: 3 years, $37.9, 2021 option ($1 million buyout)

For Mets fans, Gordon seems to be the cure to many ills.  He is a top of the order hitter who steals bases and has a good defensive reputation.  The problem with Gordon is much of his reputation is based upon a career year in 2015, and he has yet to replicate that season.  Overall, he’s been a great base stealer, average defender, and someone who does not walk nearly enough to hit atop the order.  Between that and the salary, the Mets should look elsewhere.

Josh Harrison

2017 Stats: .272/.339/.432, 26 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 47 RBI, 12 SB, 4 CS
Advanced: 3.3 bWAR, 2.6 fWAR, 101 OPS+, 104 wRC+, 6 DRS
Salary: 1 year, $10.25 million (Team options next two seasons)

Harrison seems to be the type of player the Mets covet this offseason due to his versatility.  He’s been a good defender at second, and he can handle himself at third and both corner outfield positions.  He also has a reasonable contract with reasonable team options in succeeding years.  There are two caveats with Harrison.  First, Harrison does not draw many walks.  More importantly for a Mets team unable to keep players on the field, Harrison has his own injury issues.

Ian Kinsler

2017 Stats: .236/.313/.412, 25 2B, 3 3B, 22 HR, 52 RBI, 14 SB, 5 CS
Advanced: 2.1 bWAR, 1.5 fWAR, 90 OPS+, 91 wRC+, 6 DRS
Salary: 1 year, $11 million

With the season Kinsler just had, it’s fair to question whether he’s done at 35 years old.  Even with the dropoff, he was still a good defender at second, and he maintained a respectable 9.0% walk rate.  Like most of his career, he had a good start to the season, hit lefties well, and he tapered off as the season progressed.  It’s possible being put in a new situation with a new manager will be able to rejuvenate him.  Even if it doesn’t, you’re still getting a good defender with a solid clubhouse presence at a somewhat reasonable cost.

Jason Kipnis

2017 Stats: .232/.291/.414, 25 2B, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 6 SB, 2 CS
Advanced: 0.4 bWAR, 0.7 fWAR, 81 OPS+, 82 wRC+, -2 DRS
Salary: 2 years, $28.3 million ($16.5 million 2020 option)

After being a reasonably healthy player, Kipnis had an injury plagued year that kept him off the field and helped lead to a career worst year.  Ever the team player, Kipnis came back from the disabled list, and with him having been supplanted at second base by Jose Ramirez, he went to center field.  With Ramirez playing a terrific second and the emergence of Yandy Diaz, it’s rumored the Indians may be willing to move Kipnis.

It’s also likely it’s going to be a high price tag.  Kipnis has a reasonably salary, and the Indians could use him at either first of the outfield depending on what happens with Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce.  Considering he’s a 4.0+ WAR player when healthy, he might just be worth whatever price the Indians demand.

Ben Zobrist

2017 Stats: .232/.318/.375, 20 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS
Advanced: 0.5 bWAR, 0.3 fWAR 79 OPS+, 82 wRC+, 5 DRS
Salary: 2 years, $29 million

After the 2015 season, the Mets thought Zobrist might be the player to take them over the top, and they vigorously pursued him in free agency.  The Mets were proven to be correct when Zobrist was the 2016 World Series MVP.  For those that believed Zobrist’s deal was going to be harsh at the tail end, they seemed to be proven correct with Zobrist having a poor year where he looked every bit of his 36 years of age.

Still, Zobrist is just one year off of being a good major league player, a good defender at second, and every bit as versatile as he’s always been.  While he’s not officially on the trade block, the Cubs are nearing a bit of a roster crunch with Albert Almora staking a claim in CF and Ian Happ proving he should be an everyday player.  Unless the Cubs want to pay Zobrist big bucks to be a utility player, they may look to move him, and the team has been known to like Seth Lugo.  This isn’t saying that’s what gets it done for both sides.  Still, it’s interesting the Cubs have a player the Mets want, and the Mets have a player the Cubs want.  This could lead to trade discussions, and Sandy getting a player he has long coveted.

Overall, the Mets would be improved by getting anyone of these players, but that does not necessarily mean that is the best allocation of resources.  Given the contract length and what should be a relatively low sales price, it would seem Kinsler should be the Mets top target.  If the Mets had more talent available in their farm system, perhaps then you may be more willing to pursue a Kipnis or Harrison.

Ghosts Of Mets Past And Present In Split Doubleheader

The Mets played two ends of a doubleheader against the Braves with vastly different results. 

When you look at the lineup on the first game, you can immediately guess which game they won and which one they lost:

  1. Nori Aoki
  2. Jose Reyes
  3. Brandon Nimmo
  4. Phillip Evans
  5. Dominic Smith
  6. Amed Rosario
  7. Juan Lagares
  8. Tomas Nido
  9. Chris Flexen

For his part, Flexen fought the good fight pitching five good innings allowing just one earned run. Then the sixth inning happened. 

Flexen would load the bases to start the inning including his issuing back-to-back walks to Ender Inciarte and Ozzie Albies

Josh Smoker would relieve Flexen, and he would allow all three inherited runners to score. The highlight (lowlight?) was Mets killer Freddie Freeman hitting a two run double. 
With the lineup the Mets had, this game was all but over. The base running certainly didn’t help that Tyler Flowers threw out Lagares and Reyes trying to steal a base. 

The Braves would score runs in each of the final four innings in the 9-2 blowout. The only Mets runs came off a Nido two run seventh inning double; his first career extra base hit. 

Things would go much better in the second game of the double header because Seth Lugo was great. 

Lugo pitched six scoreless innings allowing just two hits while walking none. He kept the Braves off balance striking out seven. 

He’d get all the run support he needed from Travis d’Arnaud who had another big night in what has been a big month for him. 

In the third, after Asdrubal Cabrera had an RBI groundout scoring Nimmo, d’Arnaud doubled home Lagares. The Mets 2-0 lead would become a 3-0 lead with a d’Arnaud eighth inning homer. 

It should be noted d’Arnaud was not the only Mets with a big game. Nimmo, who finally hit lead-off, was 3-4 with a run and a double. Matt Reynolds got the start at SS, and he was 2-4 with a double. 

The Mets needed all the room they could get because Jeurys Familia had an adventure in his second save opportunity since coming off the disabled list. 

After a Kurt Suzuki lead-off single, Familia made an error on a Freeman grounder to set up first and second with no outs. 

After a Jace Peterson RBI single and Matt Kemp RBI groundout, it was a 3-2 game with Peterson in scoring position. 

Familia then bore down, and he got Flowers to ground out to end the game. 

Between the two games, the Mets scored five runs. The runs were sufficient in the second half because the Mets had good pitching. That was a reason why the team was good in 2015 and 2016. For at least one night, you were reminded of those days. 

Of course, with them getting annihilated in the first half of the doubleheader, you were reminded why the Mets are terrible this year. 

Game Notes: Kevin Plawecki started at first base in the second game. With the Mets losing the first game of the doubleheader, they have officially gone the 2017 season without sweeping an opponent at home. 

Mets Can’t Get deGrom Number 16

Yesterday, the Mets sold us own Noah Syndergaard making his first start since April followed by a “relief appearance” by Matt Harvey.  T0day, the selling point was to see Jacob deGrom try to get t0 200 innings for the first time in his career and to see him get his 16th win of the year.

While the Mets largely disappointed, deGrom didn’t.  Despite experiencing flu like symptoms, not too long after Amed Rosario had to be hospitalized, deGrom took the mound and gave his team every chance to win.  However, deGrom would not get that win.

Part it was his giving up a two run homer to Trea Turner turning a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 deficit.  Another part was his teammates really let him down today.  To that end, it was not much different than most deGrom starts this year.

Things were really bad in the fifth.  Michael Taylor led off the inning with an infield single to third that Phillip Evans couldn’t quite make a play on.  Taylor then attempted a steal of second base, and he found himself on third after Travis d’Arnaud threw the ball into center field.  A Jose Lobaton RBI single later, and the Nationals had an insurmountable 3-1 lead.

It was insurmountable because the Nationals had Max Scherzer going.  As such deGrom’s final line of six innings, five hits, three runs, two earned, no walks, and 11 strikeouts wouldn’t be good enough for that win. 

Really, after a Brandon Nimmo first inning home run, the Mets offense couldn’t get anything going. More than that, this offense was inept. This was apparent in the seventh when Victor Robles caught a Rosario liner in right and picked Evans off first. 

The play helped kill what could have been a game tying rally. That play was even more magnified in the eighth. 

With three straight singles, the Mets pulled within 3-2 with one out. 

After a Nimmo strikeout and a d’Arnaud walk, the bases were loaded for Dominic Smith. It was a big moment for a big Mets prospect. The only problem is the Mets manager is still Terry Collins, a manager who has shown zero interest in developing these young Mets players. 

When Dusty Baker brought in the left-handed Sammy Solis to fave him. In terms of developing Smith, you couldn’t as for a better situation. Instead, Collins went with Kevin Plawecki

Plawecki got ahead 3-1 in the count, but Solis would get back in the count and strike him out. 

That ended the Mets last chance to beat the Nationals. Not just today, but the season. 

Game Notes: Nimmo has struck out in 14 straight games. 

Ramos Blows First Save In Mets Loss

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. 

After Lugo, Josh SmokerJeurys Familia, and Jerry Blevins combined to throw three hitless and scoreless innings. 

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:

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. 

Gsellman Dominates With Good Defense Behind Him

If you want to see how important defense is to a starting pitcher, especially a ground ball pitcher, you need to look any further than today’s game. 

With a better infield defense featuring Amed Rosario, who we all recall cannot pitch, and Phillip Evans in his first career start, Robert Gsellman reminded us of the pitcher we all thought was going to take a big step forward this year instead of the struggling one that doesn’t care. 

Gsellman had that power sinker working today getting the Braves to drive the ball into the ground. With the better defense behind him, most of those balls turned into outs. Part of that was also Gsellman getting the ball inside. Credit there should go to Kevin Plawecki, who called a superb game. 

Really, the only time the Braves got to him was when the infield defense failed him. On back-to-back plays in the seventh, Rosario made errors allowing Johan Camargo and Dansby Swanson to reach with one out. To Gsellman’s credit, he shook off the errors, and he got out of the jam allowing just the one run. 

Gsellman’s final line would be seven innings, three hits, one run, none earned, no walks, and three strikeouts. Because his offense did just enough, he would get the win. 

It was tough going for the Mets offense because the Braves started Julio Teheran has been great against them in his career. Entering today, he was 8-4 with a 2.56 ERA against the Mets. 

That made the first inning rally all the more important. 

After a Nori Aoki walk to start the game, Jose Reyes would triple him home. 

Teheran would then lose his control a bit walking Brandon Nimmo, who had a typical Nimmo game walking twice, and Dominic Smith to load the bases. Rosario would knock in Reyes on an RBI groundout giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. 

From that point until the ninth, the Mets would only get two more hits, both by Aoki,  for the rest of the game.  It didn’t matter because the two runs they did score were more than enough for Gsellman. 

The Mets would put the game out of reach in the ninth. After a Rosario infield single and stolen base, Evans would hit his second career double and earn his first major league RBI. 

After Evans’ double, Asdrubal Cabrera put a 10 game hitting streak on the line in his pinch hitting appearance. He now has an 11 game hitting streak after his two run homer giving the Mets a 5-1 lead. 

AJ Ramos closed out the ninth with a scoreless inning. The win gave the Mets their seventh win in 10 games at SunTrust, which already makes it much more hospitable than Turner Field ever was. 

Game Notes: Rosario was recently rated by Statcast as the fastest player in the majors. The Mets rank last in the majors in infield hits, bunt singles, and stolen bases.