Phillip Evans

Mets 2019 Starting Lineup As It Stands Today

With Brodie Van Wagenen being announced as the new Mets General Manager tomorrow, his work begins immediately.  Right now, Jose Reyes, Devin Mesoraco, Jerry Blevins, Austin Jackson, and Jose Lobaton are free agents.  With eight more players listed on the 60 day disabled list (Eric Hanhold, Rafael Montero, Bobby Wahl, Travis d’Arnaud, Phillip Evans, T.J. Rivera, Yoenis Cespedes, and Juan Lagares), the team needs to cut at least three players by Friday.

More than that, Van Wagenen will be entasked in improving the roster into a 2019 World Series contender.  Here is Van Wagenen’s starting point:

C – Kevin Plawecki
1B – Jay Bruce
2B – Jeff McNeil
3B – Todd Frazier
SS – Amed Rosario
LF – Michael Conforto
CF – Juan Lagares
RF – Brandon Nimmo

Certainly, the Mets are set in the middle infield and the corner outfield spots.  Obviously, Yasmani Grandal would be a significant addition to both the lineup and in the pitch framing department.  Even if not Grandal, the catching position seems to be a real target to upgrade either on the free agent market, where real upgrades are limited, or on the trade front, where there are a number of rebuilding teams who could move a catcher (Buster Posey?).

As for the other positions, the Mets are going to have to move a player/contract.  If the Mets really want to significantly upgrade this roster, the team is going to have to find a way to move Bruce, Frazier, or both.  That not only opens room for a significant addition, but it also means the team will have some extra money on the budget to improve the roster.

In the end, there is real talent here, but talent which needs to be surrounded by the right players.  Ideally, that is at least one right-handed power bat to balance out a lineup which already balances out Conforto, Nimmo, and McNeil.  When doing that, Van Wagenen will need to buttress this group by building a strong bench, which is something which has not been done since the trade deadline maneuvers in the 2015 season.

Mets Players Weekend Nickname Alternates

Last year, Player’s weekend was a hit as fans got to see their favorite players wear fun jerseys featuring their nicknames on the back of their jerseys.  Believe it or not, some of those were nicknames were rejected for various reasons.

For example, Brandon Nimmo wanted to use his Twitter handle, You Found Nimmo, but MLB was afraid of copyright issues.  When it came to Kyle Seager, he wanted to go with “Corey’s Better.”  With that rejected, he paid homage to his brother Corey Seager by merely noting on his jersey he was “Corey’s Brother.”

Well, the Mets officially approved Player’s Weekend nicknames and jerseys have been released.  However, as noted with Nimmo, there were other names the players wanted which were rejected by MLB:

Tyler BashlorMickey, I’m Available To Pitch

Jose BautistaTrade Value Going, Going, Gone!

Jerry BlevinsOne Magic LOOGY

Jay BruceJason Bay

Michael Conforto – Shouldering The Load

Travis d’Arnaud – d’L

Jacob deGromFewest Wins 4 Cy Young Winner

Phillip EvansDFA TBA

Wilmer Flores – 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Todd Frazier Regrets, I’ve Joined The Mets

Robert GsellmanDon’t Care What You Think

Luis GuillormeAssistant to the Regional Manager

Austin Jackson2019 Opening Day CF

Juan LagaresOut For The Season

Seth Lugo – Quarterrican (That’s perfection; you don’t mess with that)

Steven MatzNot So Strong Island

Jeff McNeil2B/3B/OF

Devin Mesoraco – Harvey’s Better

Brandon Nimmo – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Corey OswaltVargas (figured it was the only way he would get a start)

Kevin Plawecki – Plawful

Jose ReyesMelaza Virus

Jacob RhameStay (Refers to his roster spot and glasses)

Amed Rosario – Mentor Wanted

Paul Sewald AAAAll Star

Dominic SmithWaist And Future Gone

Drew SmithMickey, I’m Available To Pitch (Yes, it’s a repeat of Bashlor.  They’re trying to prove a point.)

Anthony SwarzakStill Just One Good Season

Noah Syndergaard 60’6″ Away

Jason Vargas$16 Million Dollar Man

Bobby Wahl After All, I’m Your . . .

Zack WheelerFinally Good

David Wright – Hurts Here Doc

Milone Dominates Mets – Yes, It’s That Milone

Thought last night’s 25-4 loss was bad? Well, despite it technically being the worst loss in franchise history, today’s game might have been worse.

Tommy Milone, who had a Jason Vargas-esque 8.36 ERA in 11 starts for the Mets last year, struck out nine Mets today while limiting them to one run on three hits.

At least, yesterday’s loss could be attributed to Steven Matz having a dead arm which was later more accurately described as firearm tightness. After that, some young Mets got a chance and struggled.

Moreover, the Mets were beaten by a credible MLB pitcher in Tanner Roark.

Today, none of those factors were present.

Instead, Noah Syndergaard, who initially struggled in his first start back from coxsackie, had no chance to win despite his allowing just three earned over seven innings.

As if things weren’t depressing enough, two of the three Mets runs were delivered by Jose Reyes, who homered from both sides of the plate today. Knowing the Wilpons, this will mean a 2-3 year contract extension for Reyes.

Speaking of Reyes, both and Wilmer Flores threw balls away leading to two unearned runs in the eighth. Coincidentally, Flores hit a ninth inning homer to provide the Mets other run.

In the end, it was a 5-3 loss, and really, the game wasn’t as close as the score indicates.

Game Notes: Reyes came into the game in the second for Phillip Evans, who departed after Adam Eaton took him out on a slide attempting to break up a double play in the first.

Mets Young Bullpen No Relief

Heading into this series, Mickey Callaway said how he wanted to get a better look at his younger relievers and put them in higher pressure spots. With Jason Vargas starting for the Mets, you knew today was going to be the day.

That was even the case with Michael Conforto hitting a first inning three run homer.

Vargas would get through the first unscathed, but he would allow David Freese to hit a two run homer. This would be the first two of the five runs Freese knocked in on the day.

While Vargas somehow got out of a fourth inning bases loaded jam, Callaway would lift him after he issued a one out walk to Jordan Luplow. At that point, Vargas had already thrown 84 pitches, and the Pirates were about to go through the lineup a third time.

First up was Seth Lugo, who wasn’t as sharp as he’s been all season. After loading the bases, he allowed a two out two RBI single to Freese to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead.

One of the two runs were charged to Vargas, who somehow lowered his ERA after allowing three in 4.1 innings. His season ERA is now 8.13.

After his two-thirds of an inning, the Mets got him off the hook in the sixth in what was a rally that most fell short.

After back-to-back walks to Conforto and Jose Bautista, Jeff McNeil laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt, which after a Edgar Santana error, loaded the bases with no outs.

Kevin Plawecki struck out, Jose Reyes lined out, and Phillip Evans grounded out.

Fortunately, the Mets would inadvertently score on the Reyes line out. On the play, Conforto faked down the line leading to Luplow trying the ball nowhere near home. As it rattled around the backstop, Conforto did score.

In the bottom of the inning, Tyler Bashlor would get himself into trouble by loading the bases, partially due to him walking two batters. Bashlor got out of the jam by getting Josh Harrison to hit into an inning ending double play.

After that, Bashlor would pitch a scoreless seventh.

Jacob Rhame struck out two in a scoreless eighth leaving it up to Tim Peterson to get the Mets into extra innings.

Harrison led off with an infield single. Amed Rosario made an incredible play to stop the ball, but he couldn’t get it to first with him on his backside. Gregory Polanco then ripped a line drive through the shift to set up runners at the corners with no outs.

After walking the bases loaded to set up an out at any base, Freese hit a deep fly to right to end the game 5-4.

Overall, there as some good work from these young Mets arms, but there was still speed bumps, even from those who pitched scoreless innings. Given where the Mets are, the team starting to get a real look at them made this a good game for the team.

Game Notes: The Mets played one man short as right before the game Asdrubal Cabrera was traded to the Phillies.

Mets Win A Series!!!!!

Well, the impossible has happened. After 17 tries the Mets have finally won a series. It’s been a long time.

The last series the Mets won was the May 18th – May 20th sweep of the Diamondbacks.

At that time, the Mets were 23-19 and just 3.5 games back. The winning pitcher, Noah Syndergaard didn’t have any issues with his finger, or his hand, foot, or mouth.

Adrian Gonzalez was the first baseman, and Jose Reyes was still a bench player. Jay Bruce was still able to play, and Yoenis Cespedes had two functioning heels.

Today, the Mets won with Corey Oswalt picking up his first career win. His final line was five innings, three hits, two earned, two walks, and four strikeouts.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Mets rallied starting with a Jose Bautista leadoff walk. He’d subsequently come around to score on a Kevin Plawecki RBI single.

Later that inning, Mickey Callaway would face a tough decision. With two outs and the Mets down 2-1, should he pull Oswalt and chase the win, or should he keep Oswalt in and hope for another rally.

Callaway opted to pinch hit for Oswalt despite his just having thrown 62 pitches. Callaway’s decision was rewarded when Phillip Evans hit a pinch hit RBI single to tie the score.

The move looked even better when Amed Rosario hit a two RBI single to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

That lead grew to 6-2 with Bautista hitting a two run homer:

Then considering it is the Mets bullpen at work, it was time to hold on for dear life.

Once again, Tim Peterson didn’t have it. In the seventh, he allowed a Freddy Galvis two run homer to make it 6-4, and the Padres went right back to work.

Robert Gsellman would relieve Peterson with one out and one, and he would preserve the 6-4 lead.

Anthony Swarzak would then have his best outing as a Mets pitching two scoreless to pick up the save.

For Swarzak, it was more than just two scoreless innings, it was his throwing 95 with a really good slider. Really, he looked like the guy who the Mets thought they were signing.

Some more of that, and suddenly, things look much better for this team next year.

Game Notes: For reasons no one can explain, Reyes started over Jeff McNeil. Before the game, Cespedes announced he el have season ending surgery.

Mets Future Looked Bright Tonight

Today was one of those games where you can see how this Mets team could be really good next year.

Zack Wheeler has clearly turned a corner in his career as evidenced by yet another terrific start tonight.

Through seven innings, he limited the Padres to two earned on four hits and one walk despite striking out just three.

The damage could’ve been worse, but Devin Mesoraco made a heads up play to throw to third on what was an odd decision on replay:

Unlike Jacob deGrom last night, Wheeler was rewarded for his good start because the team scored runs for him.

The driving force of the lineup was once again Michael Conforto, who has been great since the All Star Break.

In the game, Conforto was 2-for-4 with two runs, a homer, and two RBI.

The first run he scored was in the first. He hit a ball hard to the opposite field. Third baseman Christian Villanueva dove to knock it down, but he had no play on Conforto. Conforto would then score on the ensuing Mesoraco three RBI double.

The first runner who crossed the plate on that double was surprise leadoff hitter Amed Rosario.

Rosario has been slowly improving of late, and tonight was another step in the right direction. Not only did he draw a first inning leadoff walk against Padres starter Eric Lauer, but in his next at-bat, he would hit a triple.

Asdrubal Cabrera brought him home with an RBI single giving the Mets a 6-2 lead.

Even with Wheeler dealing, Conforto mashing, and Rosario setting the table, perhaps the biggest news was Jeff McNeil.

Before the game, in a flurry of moves, both he and Phillip Evans would be called-up with Yoenis Cespedes going on the DL and Ty Kelly being designated for assignment.

McNeil would finally make his MLB debut in the eighth. He pinch hit for Evans, and he hit the first pitch he saw for a single.

Despite the Mets assertions to the contrary, McNeil stayed in the game to play third where he would catch a pop out to record the final out of the Mets 6-3 win.

So yes, while this has been a dreadful season, the Mets do have the pieces to be a good team next year. We saw a glimpse of that tonight.

Game Notes: Seth Lugo allowed one run over the final two innings to preserve the win. The Mets still have made no GM or owner available to answer questions about Cespedes injury or second opinion. Instead, they let Mickey Callaway answer questions about it in the post-game.

Trivia Friday: Mets 2018 Third Basemen

When the Mets starting third baseman hit the disabled list, Mets fans were clamoring for Jeff McNeil to get called-up to the majors.  Instead of calling him up, the Mets informed everyone they view McNeil strictly as a second baseman.  Then in pure Mets fashion, they put McNeil at third base later that week.

With the Mets not viewing McNeil as a third baseman, we should look to who they believe is capable of playing third base.  In total, the Mets have had seven different players play third.  Can you name them?  Good luck!


Todd Frazier Jose Reyes Luis Guillorme Phillip Evans Wilmer Flores Ty Kelly Jose Bautista

Rosario’s Signature Game Leads To Mets Win

More than any game this season, you expected the Mets to lose yesterday.  Jason Vargas and his 10.62 ERA were pitching on three days rest.  The team made a flurry of moves to add Tim Peterson, Buddy Baumann, and Scott Copeland, a trio many joked were really names spit out by the Madden name generator, to the roster.   Once again, they had an extremely short bench.

And to make matters worse, the Braves were pitching Julio Teheran, who has owned the Mets in his career.

But something very interesting happened.  Vargas was actually good.  The veteran lefty would pitch five shutout innings against the Braves.  Better yet because of a pair of fourth inning doubles from Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez, the Mets actually had a 1-0 lead through five.

Interestingly enough, many were actually second guessing Mickey Callaway‘s decision to pull Vargas after five.  The main arguments were he was pitching well, and he had only thrown 65 pitches.

Those arguments neglect the obvious counterpoint that Vargas was on short rest, and he’s been bad all year.  Those five innings were a gift, and rather than look in the horse’s mouth to see if anything was left, he thanked the baseball gods and gave the ball to Peterson.

Peterson is an interesting story because as the Mets 2012 20th round draft pick, he was going to have to do more than the average prospect to prove himself.  He has done just that coming off a 1.14ERA in Binghamton last year, a terrific stretch in the Arizona Fall League, and a 3.45 ERA and 12.6 K/9 for Las Vegas this year.  With the rash of injuries, at 27 years old, Peterson was finally going to get his shot.

He would immediately prove he belonged pitching a 1-2-3 sixth inning, an inning where he faced Ozzie AlbiesFreddie FreemanNick Markakis.  That is no small feat indeed.  In fact, in his two innings of work, he would allow just one hit.  Unfortunately, that one hit was a Johan Camargo homer to the same exact spot he hit his walk-off against Gerson Bautista the previous night.

Fortunately, that homer would cut the lead to 2-1 because the Mets came up with two huge two out hits against Teheran.  First, Amed Rosario hit a rope to center past Ender Inciarte that turned into a two out triple.  Then, Brandon Nimmo would jump on a 3-2 pitch and rip a single to right to give the Mets a then 2-0 led.  That triple set up an important insurance run, but it would not be the last impact Rosario would have on this game.

In the top of the eighth, Shane Carle relieved Teheran, and the Mets immediately went on the attack.  After a Jose Bautista double, Bruce was intentionally walked, and Kevin Plawecki worked out a six pitch walk.  Gonzalez, who the Braves are paying $21.8 million not to play for them, hit an RBI single giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.  The rally would end there as Luis Guillorme hit into an inning ending double play.

Callaway then made a decision he promised to make heading into the season, but he has not followed through.  He brought Jeurys Familia into the eighth inning because the Braves had the top of the lineup coming up.  No, this was not going to be a six out save chance.  Rather, Callaway was using his best reliever to get out the best hitters in the Braves lineup.

The move almost blew up with Albies and Freeman hitting a pair of one out singles followed by Markakis smoking a grounder up the middle.  That’s when Rosario made a truly great defensive play to save the inning and perhaps the game:

That 6-4-3 double play ended the inning, and it might’ve saved the game.

In the top of the ninth, Rosario and Nimmo added an insurance run off Miguel Socolovich with a pair of one out doubles to increase the Mets lead t0 4-1.  That three run margin was more than enough for Robert Gsellman to record his first one inning save.

Ulitmately, in a series of many twists and turns, the Mets battled through injury and fatigue and somehow walked away with a split. Perhaps more importantly, we now have a signature game from Rosario, who suddenly seems like he is figuring it out in each and every aspect of his game.  He’s been exciting, and as he continues to develop, you have more and more reason to get excited about this Mets team.

It speaks to the resiliency this team has, and it will be interesting to see what it means for this team as it begins to get healthy with Todd Frazier and Anthony Swarzak on the horizon.

Game Notes: To make room for the aforementioned three relievers, Phillip Evans and Jacob Rhame were sent down to Triple-A.  To make room for Copeland and Peterson on the 40 man roster, Juan Lagares was transferred to the 60 day disabled list, and P.J. Conlon was designated for assignment.

Time for Reyes to Retire

In 29 games this season, Jose Reyes is hitting .143/.176/.204 with a 6 OPS+ and 6 wRC+.  To put it in perspective, a league average OPS+ or wRC+ is 100.  That’s a major reason why Reyes has a -0.4 WAR so far this season.

When he is getting into games, he’s making mistakes like how he was picked off of first base by Jake Arrieta.  We’ve also seen more than a few occasions where he has failed to make the proper read off the bat, or he is just not hustling around the bases.

His struggles are apparent to all including his manager Mickey Callaway.  Even with Todd Frazier on the disabled list, Wilmer Flores is getting the starts at third base against right-handed pitching.  When the Blue Jays pitched J.A. Happ in the series finale, Callaway opted to have Flores play first, Luis Guillorme get his first professional start at third, and have Phillip Evans play left.

Based on the past few seasons, hitting left-handed pitching was one of the things Reyes had continued to do quite well.  Also judging from the past few seasons, Flores and his career -19 DRS at third base should never be called upon to play the position on an extended period of time.

And yet, here we are.  Flores is the top third base option, and Reyes is not getting any real playing time.  When he finally does get to play, he is unable to get any hits.

Put your personal feelings aside.  This applies to all Mets fans.  The group who still adores the homegrown player and sparkplug of the early 2000s.  The fans who can never forgive him for the domestic violence.  The younger crowd who may have seen him as an energetic player who helped the Mets capture one of the two Wild Card spots in 2016.  Everyone.

Ask yourself one simple question: Is Jose Reyes done?

When looking at Reyes’ career, you always thought the last thing which would go was the spark.  That smile.  The energy.  An excitement unlike almost any other player who has ever played the game.

Seeing his lackadaisical effort in his increasingly limited playing time, you don’t notice that same spark anymore.  It’s not that he’s going through the motions.  That’s an unfair statement.  It’s just that he’s not the same guy on the field.  It seems the boundless joy he had is slowing dissipating.

Seeing Guillorme start his MLB career the way he has, and seeing Gavin Cecchini bounceback after a down 2017, Reyes is getting pushed, and based upon this play on the field, he may not be able to push back, at least not hard enough to stem the tide.

Considering how well respected he is by ownership (despite his domestic violence past), it is incumbent upon them to work with Reyes to find him a respectable way to end his Major League career.  Something akin to what the Mariners did with Ichiro Suzuki.

Schedule a day.  Let him leadoff and start at short.  Let him get a bunt hit in his first at-bat, and let him depart the field to the chants of “Jose-Jose-Jose-Jose . . . Jose-Jose!”  Whatever you need to do to make it feel to Reyes like a respectful and fitting end before taking a front office or coaching job within the organization.

Really, whatever the Mets can do to get Reyes to agree to retirement will do because the one thing this Mets team cannot afford is to let him continue to play and drag a team desperate for each every win down.

Designating Harvey For Assignment Didn’t Go Far Enough

Given everything that has happened since Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, you can hardly blame Matt Harvey for refusing a minor league assignment and for the Mets designating him for assignment.  Ultimately, this is something which may prove beneficial to all parties involved.

For Harvey, he has a lot of work ahead of him.  Unfortunately, the same goes for the Mets, who for reasons unbeknownst to anyone, stopped their roster alterations at Harvey.

There is no doubt Harvey was under-performing, but at the time of the Mets decision he was the last guy in the bullpen mopping up games like the 6-0 mess left for him by Jason Vargas.  Rarely is the last guy in your bullpen the real issue with your team, and the Mets are not one of those exceptions.

One of the main issues with this time right now is the lineup.  With injuries, slumps, and flat out benching more talented players, the team needs to make changes there desperately.

One of the changes that needs to be made is to get Brandon Nimmo into the lineup everyday.  At the moment, Nimmo is hitting .256/.448/.442 with a 17.2% walk rate.  By OPS+ and wRC+, he is the second best hitter in the Mets lineup.  There is no justifiable reason to keep him as the fourth outfielder.

However, he is because the Mets are trying to make Adrian Gonzalez happen.  Well, if you go by his hitting .231/.311/.372 with a -0.4 WAR, it’s not happening, and it’s not going to happen.  Game-in and game-out, he’s showing why the Dodgers took on Matt Kemp to get rid of him and why the Braves were happy to pay him $21.8 million to go away.

Really, there is no reason why the Mets continue to trot him out there when they can put the hobbled Jay Bruce at first base.

Whether it is the plantar fascitiis or something else, Bruce has struggled this year and playing the outfield is doing him no favors.  Really, he and the team is best served by moving Bruce to first and allowing more athletic players like Nimmo and Juan Lagares play out there.

Again, the only thing standing in the way of the Mets optimizing both their defensive alignment and their lineup is a 35 year old with a bad back who already has a -0.4 WAR.

Speaking of players in their mid 30s, well past their prime, and standing in the way of more talented players, the Mets need to do something about Jose Reyes.

So far this season, Reyes is hitting .139/.184/.222.  To put that in perspective, the recently designated for assignment Matt Harvey was batting .286/.286/.286.  Put another way, Reyes is hitting like a pitcher . . . or worse.

That’s except when he’s coming off the bench.  When he’s pinch hitting, he’s not hitting at all going 0-9 with three strike outs.  When he substitutes into games, he’s 0-4.

Really, what’s the point of having a bench player who can’t hit when he comes off the bench?

Remember this was the same Reyes who posted a -0.6 WAR last year and his -26 DRS was the worst among Major League infielders.  There is really not hope there’s any upside.

Looking at Las Vegas, Gavin Cecchini is hitting .313/.359/.500 while mostly playing the middle infield with a game at short.

After a slow start, Luis Guillorme is in the midst of an eight game hitting streak that has seen him go 13-28 with three doubles and seven RBI.  After starting the year hitting .211/.338/.281, he’s not hitting .294/.394/.376.

In addition to Cecchini or Guillorme, the Mets could opt to go with Phillip Evans, who won a bench job out of Spring Training or Ty Kelly, who is once again dominating in Las Vegas hitting .300/.364/.600 with four doubles, four triples, six homers, and 21 RBI.

Even if you didn’t like the group as a collective, you’d be hard pressed to present an argument where they would not be able to get at least one hit while coming off of the bench.

Now, are Gonzalez and Reyes the only two problems?  Far from it.  The catching situation is still a mess, the bullpen is regressing, and every starter not named Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard has been completely unreliable.

That said, Gonzalez and Reyes are blocking more talented players who promise to be more productive than what we have seen from both players not just this year, but stretching back to last year.  If the Mets are truly interested in becoming a better team, these two need to join Harvey in looking for another team.