For those New York Mets fans who watched Rafael Montero, we wouldn’t have been shocked if he was a part of Major League history. Certainly, we could have bought him doing what Lance McCullers did in allowing a record five homers in a World Series start.
Actually, that’s not true at all. By 2017, there was not one Mets fan alive who believed Montero would still be in the Major Leauges at this point. Really, most Mets fans had believed Montero would not only never come close to living up to his prospect status, but they also believed his career was essentially over.
As was par for the course, much of that had to do with the Mets organization. More specifically, there was Jeff Wilpon’s meddling in medical matters, and there was Terry Collins eternal mishandling of pitchers. As we can recall, Montero had complained of shoulder and elbow issues with the Mets claiming he was making it up, and Collins traveling to essentially tell him to “man up.”
Well, eventually, we would see Montero’s Mets career end when he had to undergo Tommy John surgery. After all the disappointment, he was finally free to pursue his career elsewhere. While he had one promising year with the Seattle Mariners, he returned to the enigmatic pitcher he always was. It would not be until he was traded to the Houston Astros that his career would finally take off (pun intended).
Back in April, when the Mets had their combined no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies, it was a shock the Mets used Joely Rodriguez. As shocked as we were to see Rodriguez, it was far more surprising to see the Astros use Montero in the eighth inning to try to keep the combined no-hitter intact.
Rafael Montero, 96mph ⛽️
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) November 3, 2022
However, it wasn’t really a surprise for Astros fans. Montero has been phenomenal all season for them. He was one of the best relievers in all of baseball. Over 71 appearances, he was 5-2 with 14 saves, a 2.37 ERA, 1.024 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 9.2 K/9. He also had a 163 ERA+ and 2.64 FIP. In reality, he was better than any Mets reliever not named Edwin Diaz.
In this postseason, Montero has been great. Over nine appearances, he has a 1.00 ERA and a 0.889 WHIP. While it is coming as a reliever, you see what the Mets saw in him when they thought he was better than Jacob deGrom. The skill and execution is finally there. As a result, he has been great, and now, he is forever a part of Major League history.
Cristian Javier, Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, and Ryan Pressly celebrate the combined no-hitter 🙌 pic.twitter.com/4XHaVl1Sx9
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) November 3, 2022
Now, the old excuse of he wouldn’t have done it here has been far too overused with the Mets. With Justin Turner, his career starting blossoming at the end of his Mets tenure. For Travis d’Arnaud, he actually was great with the Mets in 2015. Both and more could have done it with the Mets.
For Montero, the excuse might actually be applicable. As an organization, the Mets continuously stood in his way. The questioned whether he was really injured. They challenged him when he should have been healing or resting. Because of this Wilponian mixture of arrogance and ignorance, Montero would not be able to be the pitcher he could be until 2022.
That’s a sad fact for Montero. That said, he is a lesson in perseverance. Because he never quit, he finally found the right situation, and now, he will forever be a part of Major League history while Jeff Wilpon is history in baseball.
Just because the New York Mets lost in the 2022 Wild Card Series to the San Diego Padres does not mean the Mets will somehow not be represented in the World Series. In fact, both teams have some of the once top rated Mets pitching prospects in this series.
If you can recall back to the 2014 season, we can remember the Mets had viewed Jacob deGrom as a future reliever. At the time, they did not know they had someone who would be the best pitcher in baseball. Instead, deGrom was a too old for his level pitching prospect who was a converted shortstop.
Standing in deGrom’s way was Rafael Montero. He was famously a prospect the Mets held onto for too long while getting rid of him too soon. That was just the way things were when the Wilpons were in charge of the franchise.
Montero never panned out as a starting pitcher. It was not until he went to the Texas Rangers that he found a role for himself as a reliever. In typical Montero fashion, it has not been a smooth ride from there. He struggled for a few more years before another breakout season with the Houston Astros.
Montero was phenomenal this season. In 71 appearances, he was 5-2 with a 2.37 ERA, 1.024 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 9.6 K/9. So far this postseason, he has only allowed one earned over 5.1 innings. While not as a starter, at 31, he is finally having the level of success the Mets once imagined he would have.
In a twist of irony, the Mets did imagine Montero would be one of the best starters for a rotation which had Matt Harvey was the ace. Behind the two of them was going to be Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. Well, Wheeler and Syndergaard are now standing opposite Montero in this series.
The tales of both Wheeler and Syndergaard are both fresh and well known for Mets fans. In terms of Wheeler, the organization really showed its own flaws with their complete inability to self scout. Their player projection and analytics teams looked as ill funded and understaffed as they were.
Wheeler didn’t get to be the pitcher the Mets had hoped he could be when they traded Carlos Beltran for him until the second half of the 2018 season. From there, he was actually one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He was top 15 in FIP and had the second best hard hit rate. Rather than see that and the woeful defense put behind him, the Mets just to foolishly sell fans that Marcus Stroman, who was in the same rotation as Wheeler, as his replacement.
Predictably, Wheeler has been an ace level pitcher despite arguably not being as good as he was with the Mets. So far, he is 1-1 with a 1.78 ERA, 0.513 WHIP, and an 8.33 K/BB this postseason. He is likely to get the ball in Game 1 of the World Series.
Unlike Montero and Wheeler, Syndergaard actually pitched for the Mets in the postseason. In fact, Syndergaard was the last Mets pitcher to win a World Series game. He is the last Mets starter to not allow an earned run in a postseason start (2016 Wild Card Game).
Despite his big game credentials, Syndergaard has only started one game this postseason while making two appearances out of the bullpen. For Mets fans, that was reminiscent of his electric one inning performance in the clinching Game 5 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Things haven’t been great for Syndergaard since he looked like a future Cy Young in 2016. He dealt with a number of injuries. He worked hard to pitch for the Mets post Tommy John heading towards free agency. He asked for, received, and rejected the qualifying offer much to the dismay of Mets fans.
His choice of the Los Angeles Angels proved less than inspired. He would talk about his mental difficulties in New York, and after he was traded to the Phillies, he avoided the Mets the two times he was lined up to face them.
This may not be too different than most Mets pitchers returning from Tommy John. For whatever which reason, Mets pitchers seems to have a steeper mountain to climb in their returns. When you look at their current pitching coach, Jeremy Hefner, you realize some never make it all the way back to a Major League mound.
Despite all that, while he’s not Thor, Syndergaard is pitching for a team who just won the pennant. He is back on the stage he was seven years ago, albeit in a far different role. He’s also with a once hated rival. Remember, he is the guy who “threw” at beloved former Phillie Chase Utley.
As noted, that was all seven years ago. Things are far, far different. Things are much different than they were in 2012 when these three were all uber prospects that were going to lead the Mets to a World Series. Instead, now, they are pitching in the World Series for different teams, and at least one of them will get the ring we thought they would one day with the Mets.
Jacob deGrom has only pitched six years with the Mets organization, and in that time, he ranks fourth all-time in WAR among pitchers with a 33.3 WAR. To put that in perspective, the three pitchers ranked ahead of him had longer Mets careers, and only Tom Seaver had a higher WAR over his first six seasons.
That is what deGrom has accomplished so far in his Mets career. He has been pitching so great, he has accomplished things only Seaver has done not just in Mets history, but Major League history. With deGrom, we may very well be watching a Hall of Fame career.
When deGrom won the 2019 Cy Young, at the time, he joined Seaver as the only pitcher in Major League history to win the Rookie of the Year Award and two Cy Youngs. Moments later, he was joined by Justin Verlander, who will one day be a Hall of Famer. With deGrom winning consecutive Cy Youngs, he is the only pitcher to win a Rookie of the Year and consecutive Cy Youngs.
What is fascinating about that is no one really expected any of this from him.
When deGrom was first called up to the majors, he was expected to eventually move to the bullpen with Rafael Montero being the mainstay in the rotation. Seeing his Major League debut against the Yankees, it was soon clear the Mets had a truly special pitcher who could one day be an ace.
In his debut, he take the loss despite allowing the Yankees to one run over seven innings. That lack of run support would become a theme in his career. What made deGrom special was he would build on it. Perhaps the highlight of that rookie season was his setting a Major League record by striking out eight batters to start the game.
He finished that season with a flourish striking out 26 batters over his final two starts. That was an indication of what was to come in 2015.
While it was Bartolo Colon who got the Opening Day start, and Matt Harvey receiving all the hype, it was deGrom who was the true ace of that 2015 staff. In fact, deGrom would be the only All-Star, and he would introduce himself to the baseball world striking out the side on just 10 pitches.
In that season, deGrom would finish seventh in Cy Young voting, but when it came to the postseason, there would be no better pitcher in the postseason. That was apparent when he completely and utterly dominated the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS striking out 13 Dodgers en route to a win.
As dominant as he was in Game 1, he was that gritty in Game 5. In that game, deGrom joined Jon Matlack and Ron Darling as the only Mets pitchers to start a winner-take-all game. In that game, deGrom’s only 1-2-3 inning wa the sixth, but he would get through that game with the lead as the Mets would win the game and the series.
With deGrom winning two games in that series, he became the first ever Mets right-handed starter to win two games in a postseason series. With his victory in Game 3 of the NLCS, he would become the first Mets starter to win three games in a single postseason. In that postseason, deGrom was 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA, 1.160 WHIP, and a 10.4 K/9.
We briefly saw deGrom build upon that in 2016, and if not for his stepping aside for his teammate Colon, he would have been an All-Star again. Unfortunately, it was a very difficult season with deGrom as his newborn son dealt with health issues (thankfully, he was alright), and he would need season ending ulnar nerve transposition surgery.
In 2017, he proved he was healthy setting a career record with 15 wins and setting what was a then career best with 201.1 innings, 239 strikeouts, and a 10.4 K/9. Once he proved he could survive the rigors of a full season again, he was primed to become the best pitcher in all of baseball.
Simply put, deGrom’s 2018 season was one of the best in Major League history. In terms of just the numbers, he was 10-9 with a 1.70 ERA, 0.912 WHIP, and an 11.2 K/9. That year, he led the majors in ERA, HR/9, ERA+, and FIP. He was so great he would even have the most staunch traditionalists reevaluate the importance of wins in determining just how great a pitcher is.
It’s nearly impossible to pick a top moment from that season as deGrom was that dominant all season long, and in that season he would record his 1,000 career strikeout. He would get to that mark before any other pitcher in Mets history. Again, we see deGrom is edging into Seaver territory.
In that entire 2018 season, deGrom allowed more than two earned only six times with his allowing more than three just once. In contrast, he allowed zero runs nine times and one or fewer 21 times. He would start a streak of 30 straight starts allowing three runs or fewer, which is an MLB record. He also tied Bob Gibson‘s MLB record of 26 consecutive quality starts.
In 2019, deGrom was not nearly as great as he was in 2018. After all, no one could. However, he was still more than good enough to win another Cy Young, and yet again, he would set Major League records. On August 24, 2019, deGrom became the first ever Major Leaguer to have two games where he struck out 13+ and hit a homer:
This is all part of deGrom becoming an all-time great Met and Major League pitcher. In terms of the Mets, deGrom has the fourth best WAR among pitchers, and after one good full season, he should move to third all-time. He is currently second in ERA, and he is first in WHIP, K/9, and ERA+.
He is already all over the Mets top 10 pitching records, and he is primed to secure himself in the ensuing years as the clear second best pitcher in team history if he isn’t already. That makes him an easy choice as the best Mets player to ever wear the number 48.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy
29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza
32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey
34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver
42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw
46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
Last week, Zack Wheeler signed a five year $118 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Unfortunately, unlike in 2015, a phone call to the General Manager would not be enough to continue his Mets career. The shame there is in many ways Wheeler always represented hope to Mets fans.
Back in 2011, we were already in the wake of the Madoff Scandal, and it became increasingly clear the Mets were not going to build upon the current core. The first player gone from that core would be Carlos Beltran. With the Beltran trade, the rebuild was officially on, and due to Sandy Alderson’s shrewdness, he was able to acquire Wheeler, who was the sixth overall pick of the 2009 draft.
With Wheeler, the Mets had real hope for the future. With him was a plan to contend once again. We could see the plan was to build a great rotation around him, Matt Harvey, and back then it was Rafael Montero as part of the group. That was the Mets future.
While Harvey burst onto the scene, Wheeler’s was more of a steady rise. His Major League debut was promising with his having a 104 ERA+ in 17 starts. He had a mediocre start to his 2014 season, and then suddenly in his last start of June something seemed to click. From June 30 to September 7, he would go 7-1 with a 2.21 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, and an 8.6 K/9.
With that finishing kick to the season, you could see him pairing with the returning Harvey and reigning Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom to form a dominant top of the rotation which could bring the Mets back to the World Series. As we know, the Mets did win the pennant in 2015, but Wheeler would not be a part of it.
On the eve of the 2015 season, disaster would strike as Wheeler would tear his UCL. He would miss the entirety of the 2015 season. Due to multiple setbacks in his recovery, he would also miss the entirety of the 2016 season. While he was gone, it does not mean it was an uneventful recovery.
On that fateful July night, it was Wheeler who was supposed to be the key piece in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers reuniting the Mets with CF Carlos Gomez. While Wilmer Flores was crying on the field and Gomez’s medical records were being perused, Wheeler was trying to let the Mets know he wanted to be a part of this team. He wanted to be a New York Met.
Wheeler got through to Alderson, and for his part Alderson made sure to make Wheeler a part of the Mets future. He held onto Wheeler during his struggles after a two year layoff which included his dealing with a stress reaction. Still, the Mets believed in him, and in 2018, the Mets faith in him would be rewarded.
In 2018, Wheeler would emerge as an ace level pitcher. What is odd is it wouldn’t start out that way. He would first begin the year in the minors only to come up to the majors to take Jason Vargas‘ spot in the rotation, and he woudl stay there despite some early season struggles due to Harvey’s being designated for assignment.
Much like 2014, something clicked at the end of June. Over his final 15 starts of the season, he was 10-1 with a 2.06 ERA, 0.924 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, and an 8.9 K/9. What is interesting about that finish is even with deGrom clearly being the best pitcher in baseball, Wheeler would have a better second half ERA than him.
Once again, Wheeler’s second half gave hopes for the Mets return to the postseason. This time, Wheeler would be healthy, and despite the Mets nearly playing themselves out of it in the first half, he would get his opportunity to pitch in a postseason race.
Wheeler stepped up his game. From June 22 until the end of the season, he was 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA, 1.192 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, and an 8.2 K/9. While the Mets didn’t get that second Wild Card, he was rewarded for his faith in himself and this team.
The Mets were also rewarded in their faith in him. As alluded to earlier, Wheeler emerged as an ace over the past two seasons.
Wheeler has emerged as a pitcher who gives you 30 starts a year and over 180 innings. That’s equivalent to 6.1 innings per start. His 3.37 FIP over the past two seasons is 10th best in the Majors ahead of pitchers like Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, and Madison Bumgarner. His hard hit rate put him ahead of everyone except his teammates deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
In total, Wheeler became exactly what was promised when the Mets obtained him from Beltran in 2011. What was promised was not just the hope Wheeler had provided but also the great pitcher they believed he could be. It may have been a turbulent road to get there, but get there he did.
For that, every Mets fan should be grateful to Wheeler. We should be grateful for his giving us hope for nearly a decade, especially at those time when it seemed the most bleak. We should be grateful he became that great pitcher we all hoped he would be. Mostly, we should be grateful he wanted to be a Met, even at the very end when he came back to the Mets and asked them to re-sign him.
To that end, thank you for an eventual Mets career, Zack Wheeler. You were a class act, and you deserve nothing but the best in the future.
Any day now, the Seattle Mariners and New York Mets are about to complete a blockbuster deal which will alter the next five to ten years for both franchises.
First and foremost, they will no longer have Jarred Kelenic, who is arguably their best prospect. More than than, Cano’s deal is a complete albatross.
While some are saying the Mets are getting plenty of relief on Cano, it’s not exactly true. Remember, Jay Bruce is only under contract for two more years. Anthony Swarzak‘s deal expires after 2019. After that, there’s no more “offsets.”
Therefore, for the final three years of Cano’s deal, he will be making $20 million per season. Also, we should not forget, even with the Mets trading Bruce and Swarzak, they still owe Cano $100 million over five years. Of course, that assumes the Mariners are providing the $20 million.
With that $20 million figure once being $60 million, we should not be too sure that number won’t change.
An important consideration to this deal is when the Mets are going to deal with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Michael Conforto hitting free agency, the team will be paying Cano $20 million per season. That puts a tremendous strain on the ability to keep those players.
Perhaps that is why Syndergaard is being shopped now.
If we operate under the assumption the Mets are building their team to win-now, which should be painfully obvious by this trade, you really have to question the wisdom of including Justin Dunn in this trade.
No starting pitching staff is immune to injuries, and since 2015, that has gone double for the Mets. With that being the case, the Mets will really need Triple-A depth to pick up the slack. Here are the career MLB numbers for their current projected Triple-A starters:
This is a group who makes Rafael Montero‘s 5.38 ERA not look so bad. For his part, Montero is not an option as he was released.
The numbers from the aforementioned pitchers are from small sample sizes, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue they would be much better than this next year. You’d be harder pressed to believe they would be able to do much better than this over 10, 15, or even 20 plus starts.
With that being the case, the Mets needed Dunn. He was the one pitcher in their system who was close to MLB ready who you could realistically rely upon for a number of starts. With him gone, the Mets really have zero depth.
With that being the case, you really have to question why a Mets team trying to win-now would completely overlook this. That is more problematic when you consider the Mets have been done in more by lack of depth than any other factor.
In the end, the Mets are going all-in now, and they’re doing it with a need to address the bullpen, catching position, center field, and their bench depth. Now, they are also going to have to add 1-2 quality pitchers who are alright spending extended time in the minors waiting for someone to get hurt.
The pitchers who are willing to do that are rarely good, and ultimately, this is why trading Dunn was a giant mistake.
Well, the impossible has finally happened. The New York Mets have FINALLY parted ways with one time top prospect Rafael Montero. It is somewhat ironic it comes in the same month when Jacob deGrom is likely to win the Cy Young Award. Mostly, it’s just shocking and strange.
This was a long anticipated moment, and yet one in which many believed would never happen.
Looking back, it was Terry Collins who first made an issue about Montero’s ability to pitch. With the Mets coming off a pennant, Collins went out of his way to challenge/chastise Montero. Collins would tell him the Mets re-signed Bartolo Colon because Montero had not held up hid end of the bargain because he was not good enough to be a part of the Mets rotation.
The reason Montero wasn’t ready to take on that role was because he was hurt. At least, that is what he said. He kept alleging it, and the Mets doctors never found anything, at least not anything they deemed sufficient enough for his complaining of pain. While he was complaining of pain, we were all complaining about the results.
In 2016 and 2017, he was 5-12 with a 5.87 ERA, 1.790 WHIP, and a 1.61 K/BB ratio. Things got so bad with him many talked themselves into him being a late bloomer when he had a 4.15 ERA in August 2017.
That included the Mets who kept Montero over relievers like Josh Smoker, Chasen Bradford, and Erik Goeddel. The later two had good 2018 seasons, which was something which stung all the more when you saw how much the Mets needed relief help.
The Mets releasing players who contributed elsewhere just so the Mets could stubbornly see what they had in Montero was becoming the norm.
Fact is, the Mets were in this deep, so they might as well see how all of this played out. Then a funny thing happened. The guy who always seemed to complain about injuries was actually injured.
On the eve of the 2018 season, it was discovered Montero had a torn UCL, and he needed season ending Tommy John surgery. While it could be a different injury than the ones he had which had caused him pain in the past, it was certainly interesting to see him finally diagnosed with an injury which COULD explain his struggles.
With the surgery, it is likely he would not pitch until sometime around the 2019 All Star break. Looking at Zack Wheeler, there was a chance he may not pitch at all in 2019. With him being out of options, there was a legitimate question if he’d ever pitch for the Mets again.
Still, the Mets had gone this far down the rabbit hole with Montero, and to a certain extent, they were almost obligated to see how he could pitch when he was finally healthy and/or not complaining of pain to his pitching arm.
Maybe, the poor pitching we’ve seen was the result of a torn UCL. Maybe, just maybe, with a surgically repaired elbow, Montero could be the pitcher the Mets envisioned he could be, or at the very least, he could become a competent MLB pitcher.
Well, if that does happen, it’s going to happen somewhere else because the Mets out-righted Montero to get the roster back under 40 players. Montero then opted to become a free agent.
The Mets out-righted Montero while keeping Drew Gagnon, a 28 year old rookie with a 5.63 career Triple-A ERA. Say whatever you want about Montero, but from a pure talent standpoint, he is better than Gagnon. It’s the reason why Montero got so many chances.
And that where’s we are with Montero. The Mets and Montero are parting ways instead of seeing if Montero could pitch like the pitcher the Mets stubbornly believed he could be. Instead, after all that time and seeing all those other pitches go and produce elsewhere, Montero is an ex-Met.
For all the times the Mets should have parted with Montero, the organization chose to do this now instead of all those other times when they should have held onto another player. They chose now even though Montero was finally the player they should have kept.
If the Mets had done this at any other time, and Montero succeeded, many would have understood. Fact is, most probably still will. And yet, if a healthy Montero does prove himself to be competent MLB pitcher and Gagnon pitches like someone with a career 5.63 Triple-A, the Mets will have definitively made the wrong choice here . . . just like all those other times they cut good players from the roster to stubbornly keep Montero.
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:
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.
Back in 2015, Hansel Robles was a revelation for a Mets bullpen needing an additional arm.
He made some further strides in 2016. After that, he was much worse. What made it so frustrating was his stretches of just absolute dominance.
As we all know, he’d follow that with a complete and utter inability to get an out. Inevitably, he’d be there pointing to the sky again and again and again.
It was the finger point that was the most frustrating. In his mind, that 500 foot blast was a pop up to second.
Part of the frustration really was how despite his talent, he just couldn’t get the results. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying.
Maybe it was too many cooks in the kitchen. Maybe it was him ignoring all four and doing his own thing. Who knows with him?
As always with Robles, no one quite knew the answer.
Robles being designated for assignment makes the second time this season the famed pitching gurus failed to get through to a pitcher. The other time was Matt Harvey.
At the moment, the Mets decision to designate Harvey for assignment does not seem to have come back to haunt them even with Harvey showing flashes. It also helps Devin Mesoraco has been much better than the Mets could have ever imagined.
That doesn’t mean it was the right decision to designate Harvey for assignment. It wasn’t.
For proof of that, look no further than Jason Vargas, who is 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA and a 1.832 WHIP while averaging just over four innings per start. Really, when he takes the mound, the only people he’s fooling is the Mets front office and coaching staff.
This same coaching staff and front office are once again fooling themselves by replacing one of their guys with another AL Central pitcher.
Heading into this season, Chris Beck had a career 6.38 ERA, 1.760 WHIP, and a 5.2 BB/9. To that end, this year is his career year with him posting a 4.18 ERA, 1.479 WHIP, and a 4.2 BB/9.
Despite these being career bests, they’re poor numbers, which is why a very bad White Sox team released him. For some reason, despite trusting their internal talent, the Mets picked him up, and he’s been worse.
And yet, it’s Robles, a guy who has actually performed well in his career and had some glimpses this year, who would be designated for assignment.
It should also be noted Marcos Molina still keeps his spot on the 40 man roster despite his losing his velocity and pitching very poorly this year. In fact, his last start for Binghamton lasted just 3.1 innings. In that start, he allowed 13 runs (10 earned) on 11 hits.
How do you look at either Molina or Beck and decide Robles is the real problem?
Sure, you can be frustrated with Robles and believe he has done more than enough to be designated for assignment. What he hasn’t been is worse than Beck or Molina.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this at all as this front office constantly makes just plain decisions like this all the time. After all, Jose Reyes and Rafael Montero continue to be members of this organization while a score of more talented players have left this organization in their stead.
Back in 2013, the Cincinnati Reds had their second consecutive 90 win season. Unfortunately for them, they were not able to make the postseason like they were the previous year when they were bounced from the NLDS by the San Francisco Giants. Due to a number of factors, there was an open question after that season how long the Reds could keep this core group together.
At the same time, the New York Mets finished the season in third place in the National League East with a 74-88 record. In that season, the team saw a rejuvenated David Wright, and Matt Harveywas the talk of the town, at least until he needed Tommy John surgery.
Using that all as a backdrop, imagine explaining to a person from 2013 how the Harvey deal went down . . .
2018: Well, no . . .
2013: So wait, tell me which Reds are members of the Mets now.
2018: Well, no, not exactly.
2013: I’m guessing Davis never got over the Valley Fever.
2018: While I’m not sure if it was Valley Fever, Davis is no longer in the majors. In fact, he’s trying to pitch now.
2013: And I’m guessing despite the team shoving him down our throats, I’m assuming Duda never panned out.
2018: Actually, he became a 30 home run hitter.
2013: Really, so if that’s the case, why are the Mets looking to move him off first? Do they really think he can play the outfield? He was dreadful out there.
2018: No, no, no, no. Duda signed as a free agent with the Royals.
2013: Ok, so the Mets got Frazier to play first.
2018: No, they signed him to play third.
2013: So, Wright is playing first.
2018: About that . . .
2013: Francesca always yammered on and on about how he belongs at third because of his arm. Honestly, I can’t believe the Mets listened to that blowhard. Speaking of which, I’m sure he gloated about that for at least a week.
2018: Believe it or not, Francesca was retired when the Mets got Frazier.
2013: With Francesca retired, who is now on during the drive home?
2018: It’s a long story, but it’s Francesa. He unretired.
2013: Of course he did. And he’s probably telling us all the time how Wright shouldn’t be compared to Derek Jeter because Wright hasn’t won, and Jeter does everything perfect.
2018: Believe it or not, Jeter owns the Marlins.
2013: Like, he’s still playing, and he won the World Series MVP?
2018: No, he’s actually a part owner of the Marlins.
2013: The media must love him and the Marlins now.
2018: People think Jeter is a prick now. He fired a cancer patient while he was in the hospital.
2018: Oh yeah, he’s alienated everyone, including their biggest fan, Marlins Man.
2013: What’s a Marlins Man?
2018: It’s this guy who goes across the country sitting behind home plate of every nationally televised game while wearing an orange Marlins jersey.
2013: That’s a thing?
2018: For a while now.
2013: So let me get this straight. In the future, Jeter owns the Marlins. Francesca pretends to be Brett Favre. There is some guy who is a celebrity because he’s rich and wears an orange Marlins jersey, and the Mets displaced Wright in favor of Frazier.
2018: I hate to tell you this, but Wright’s career is done.
2013: With the Mets? I knew the Wilpons wouldn’t pay him. Where did he go? Please don’t tell me he’s a Yankee.
2018: No, Wright’s baseball career. It’s over.
2013: Shut up. He would be just, what, 34?
2018: He’s 35.
2013: So, what? He’s the Mets Don Mattingly?
2018: He is. Back in 2015, when the Mets went to the World Series
2013: THE METS WENT TO THE WORLD SERIES?!?!?!?!?
2018: They did.
2013: Wow, Terry Collins must’ve really turned things around with better players.
2018: Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here.
2013: Sorry, you were saying about Wright.
2018: Anyway, Wright was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. He was actually able to play in the World Series, but after that point his career was essentially over.
2013: That’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.
2018: Well, it gets worse.
2013: How could it get worse?
2018: Well aside from the Mets losing the 2015 World Series –
2013: Oh, they lost? To who?
2018: The Royals.
2013: HOW! THEY ALWAYS SUCK!
2018: Well, for two years they didn’t, and they were helped along by some really bad decisions by Collins in that World Series, including leaving Harvey out too long.
2013: Let me guess. Hurt again.
2018: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, but not because of that. At least, I don’t think.
2013: Thor – what?
2018: No, not Noah Syndergaard. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
2013: Wait, Syndergaard calls himself Thor.
2018: Yeah, and he picks fights with Mr. Met on Twitter.
2013: I thought Mr. Met doesn’t talk.
2018: Yeah, it’s this whole thing. You know what. Nevermind, it’s even dumber when you explain it.
2013: Fine, what’s the deal with Harvey again?
2018: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. At best it’s a shoulder condition that changes your career. For some, it ends it. Remember Josh Beckett?
2013: Yeah, he was bad last year.
2018: That’s why.
2013: So wait, the Mets went to a World Series with an injured Harvey and Wright?
2018: Well, Harvey wasn’t injured yet.
2013: But now he is. Well, I got to give it to Sandy. He was able to turn Harvey and Herrera into Bruce, Frazier, and Mesoraco, who was a promising catcher.
2018: Well, the Mets did use Herrera to get Bruce. Frazier was a free agent, and the Mets used Harvey to get Mesoraco.
2013: Wow, that was one first round draft pick which really must’ve worked out for the Reds. You’d hope for more for Harvey, but still, you have to give Sandy credit for getting a young impressive catcher for Harvey before Harvey broke down.
2018: Oh, Mesoraco is broken down himself. He’s had shoulder and hip issues. He can’t play everyday, and he’s been hovering around the Mendoza line for years.
2013: So, let me get this straight.
2018: Go ahead.
2013: Wright is broken. Harvey is broken. They also got Mesoraco, who is also broken. Ike is both broken and a pitcher.
2018: Pretty much.
2018: You know what? I think that’s enough for right now.
It seemed like finally . . . FINALLY . . . Rafael Montero was about to pitch himself off the Mets roster. This was a long day coming for Mets fans who watched him go 6-16 with a 5.38 ERA, 1.705 WHIP, and a 5.2 BB/9 over parts of four years with the Mets. It was a frustrating experience to watch him continuously go out and pitch and seemingly be afraid to throw a strike.
What is even more maddening about his was he was once more highly regarded than Jacob deGrom. Remember, if Montero was healthy in 2014, it was possible deGrom would have been moved to the bullpen. That would have largely negated deGrom’s chances of winning the Rookie of the Year, and who knows what the long term ramifications would have been for the Mets organization.
That 2014 injury was an oblique injury. In the ensuing seasons, we have heard him complain of shoulder issues. The result was always the same. He complained, and the Mets would find nothing except “regular inflammation” associated with pitching. Montero would eventually go out, and he’d pitch. Except he wouldn’t pitch like the top prospect the Mets believed him to be. Rather, he looked skittish and afraid to throw a strike.
Now that we have the news Montero has a complete tear of his UCL which will likely require season ending Tommy John surgery. We at least have to contemplate if Montero’s issues were really injury and not a talent or mental issue.
Look, the Mets record on handling injuries is disgustingly poor. Time and again, we have seen pressure injured players to play, and we have seen them make mistake after mistake after mistake while learning nothing. Just look at last year. The Mets believed Matt Harvey would not be at full strength until May. The team originally wanted to have Zack Wheeler start the year in Extended Spring Training. However, when there were other injuries, the team opted to push these two to pitch instead of looking to grab a Scott Feldman off the scrap head and offer him a Major League job.
No, the Mets gambled on the core of their team, and they wound up losing both pitchers to stress reactions. The most disturbing discovery was the muscles in Harvey’s pitching shoulder had actually atrophied. That might not have been the case had the team let Harvey get to full strength.
Overall, the Mets have continued to mishandle the injury issues with their pitchers. They don’t require Noah Syndergaard to get an MRI before a start. They challenge Steven Matz to pitch through what was described as a massive bone spur in his pitching elbow. Through all of it, the team wound up with further injured pitchers who provided diminishing returns.
Maybe that was the case all along with Montero. Maybe not. What we do know is he’s going to stick around long enough for the Mets to discover if it was how they handled his injuries rather than how they handled his development.