Right now, the Mets have the worst defense in the National League, and they have the worst left side of the infield defense. Amed Rosario has been the worst shortstop in the National League, and J.D. Davis has been the worst infielder in all of baseball.
Now, it is fair to point out these are small sample sizes. However, historically, both of these players have been poor defenders. Considering this is their respective histories, the Mets are in desperate need for a defensive upgrade at third. Fortunately, they already have a very good defensive infielder on their 40 man roster. It’s just a matter of when he will be available to play.
During Spring Training, Todd Frazier suffered an injury. As a result, he opened the season on the Injured List. For a player who had never been on the Injured List over the first seven years of his career, Frazier has now landed there three times over the past year plus.
So far, it has been slow going for Frazier. Over 10 rehab games for St. Lucie, Frazier has struggled hitting .200/.282/.200. However, yesterday, he finally broke out. He was 1-for-2 with a run, home run, three RBI, and two walks.
That could be a sign he’s finally ready and not a moment too soon.
The Mets have lost four of their last five games with their defense being a culprit. Davis plays way too deep, he has difficulty getting in front of balls, and his throws have been very poor. Really, his defense has been hurting the team.
Defense is one thing Frazier does really well. Since 2017, his 12 DRS is the fourth best among third baseman. His UZR is fifth best. Put another way, the Mets are getting the chance to replace the worst third baseman with one of the best.
It’s a reason why McNeil should continue playing left. Another reason is the Mets organization outfield depth is poor. Moreover, Keon Broxton and Juan Lagares not hitting, and Brandon Nimmo dealing with neck issues.
With McNeil in left, Frazier can play third until Jed Lowrie returns (whenever that will be) or Frazier establishes he shouldn’t be playing everyday. At a minimum, the Mets defense will be vastly improved. Best case, he goes on and has a Ray Knight type of season.
When I was talking with my Dad about the postseason, we were prattling off how most of the teams in the postseason haven’t won in quite some time:
- Astros – Never
- Nationals – Never
- Rockies – Never
- Indians – 1948
- Dodgers – 1988
- Twins – 1991
- Diamondbacks – 2001
- Yankees – 2009
- Red Sox – 2013
- Cubs – 2016
Just go back over that list again.
For nearly a century, the dream World Series matchup was Red Sox-Cubs. 1912 versus 1908. The Curse of the Bambino versus the Billy Goat Curse.
Then there was all of the Hall of Famers on both sides who never won a World Series. For the Cubs, you had absolute legends like Ernie Banks and Ferguson Jenkins. The Red Sox had Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.
Throw in Fenway and Wrigley with the Green Monster and the ivy, this was the World Series to end all World Series because these were two teams pathologically incapable of winning World Series.
We know it all changed for the Red Sox with a Dave Roberts stolen base propelling the Red Sox to overcome an 0-3 ALCS deficit. It would be a Kris Bryant homer to start the game winning rally in Game five of the World Series. Before each of those moments, these were two franchises who seemed incapable of winning a World Series. There was also a time the Mets would take full advantage.
Now, the Mets are behind both the Red Sox and the Cubs. Now, it looks like the Mets who are the team that can’t win a World Series.
In 1988, Mike Scioscia hit a grand slam against Dwight Gooden. In 1999, Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded. In 2000, Timo Perez didn’t run out a Todd Zeile fly ball that landed on top of the wall. In 2006, So Taguchi homered off of Guillermo Mota, and yes, Carlos Beltran struck out looking against Adam Wainwright. In 2015, Jeurys Familia blew three saves with the help of Daniel Murphy overrunning a grounder and a way offline Lucas Duda throw. Last year, it was Conor Gillaspie who hit a three run homer in the Wild Card Game.
In reality, the Mets aren’t cursed even with all that ensued after the Madoff scandal. However, with each passing year, you can forgive fans for starting to feel this way. It’s been 31 years since the Mets last won a World Series. In those 31 years, the Mets have reached the postseason six times, and they were eliminated in excruciating fashion each time.
Again, the Mets are not cursed. Still, it is depressing to now live in a world where the Red Sox and the Cubs have won a World Series more recently than the Mets.
With the solar eclipse happening, now is as good as any to create a Mets All-Time Solar Eclipse Team. These are players who are included due to their names and not because of their exploits. For example, the will be no Mike Piazza for his moon shots, or Luis Castillo for his losing a ball in the moon.
SP – Tim Redding
He is the great nephew of Joyce Randoph of Honeymooners fame where Ralph threatened to send Alice right to the moon,.
C – Chris Cannizzaro
Cannizzaro is the name of a lunar crater
1B – Lucas Duda
Lucas means light giving
2B –Neil Walker
Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon
3B – Ray Knight
Pretty self explanatory, first sun rays, and then night.
SS – Asdrubal Cabrera
Asdrubal means helped by Baal. Baal is a moon god
OF – Kevin Mitchell
Mitchell was one of the 12 men to walk on the moon
OF – Don Hahn
Hahn means rooster, which is an animal that crows at sunrise.
OF – Victor Diaz
His first and last name combined translate to day conqueror, which is effectively what the eclipse does.
Did you ever watch a compilation of the greatest moments in Major Leauge history? If you have, you usually come across Mookie Wilson‘s little roller up the first base line, and as a Mets fan it brings you a smile. If you’re a Red Sox fan, you cringe each and every time you see the ball roll through Bill Buckner‘s legs and watch a delirious Ray Knight cross home plate.
As I learned yesterday, the Mets now have their Buckner moment.
In Game Three of the ALDS between the Rangers and the Blue Jays, the score was tied 6-6 in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Blue Jays had runners at first and second with one out. Russell Martin hit a ball to the third base hole that seemed too slow to turn the double play. That didn’t deter Rougned Odor. After received the throw from Elvis Andrus, he made an offline throw to the first baseman Mitch Moreland, who was unable to handle the ball. While this was occurring reigning AL MVP, Josh Donaldson, did not stop running. He rounded third and headed home. By the time Moreland would pick the ball up and throw home, it was too late. It was just a brutal way for the Rangers to lose the ALDS.
Sure enough, everyone started comparing Donaldson to Eric Hosmer. MLB even did a Vine comparing the two plays:
And now we know that every time a player hustles to make a play, invariably there is going to be a comparison to the infamous Lucas Duda throw home in Game Five of the 2015 World Series.
Duda deserves a better fate that this, as did Buckner. The Mets don’t go to the 2015 World Series without him. As we saw this past season, when Duda suffered a stress fracture in his lower back, the team missed his presence in the lineup, and yes, the team missed his defense at first base. One throw doesn’t change what he has accomplished in his career, nor does it change how much the Mets need him back on the field in 2017.
However, that throw does define him. Years later, all people outside of New York will know about him is he is the guy that made the poor throw. Assuredly, someone is going to invariably blame him for blowing not just the game, but the entire World Series. It’ll be nonsense.
As we saw in 1986, it wasn’t just Buckner. It was Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell, and Knight not willing to go down without a fight. It was Rich Gedman just missing a pitch, that was somehow ruled a Bob Stanley wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score. Furthermore, it was the Red Sox who blew a 3-0 lead in Game Seven of the World Series. Buckner’s error didn’t help things, but it wasn’t the reason why the Red Sox lost.
Last year, it was Terry Collins allowing Matt Harvey to talk him into pitching another inning. It was then Collins sticking with Harvey too long in that ninth inning before turning to Jeurys Familia. It was David Wright cutting in front of Wilmer Flores, to not only make a weak throw to get the out at first, but also to allow Hosmer to aggressively round an abandoned third base. It was also the Mets offense that didn’t score any runs in the bottom of the ninth or extra innings to lead to that loss.
Like Buckner, Duda didn’t help matters, and he will be forever blamed for the loss. Worse yet, people will forget two pretty good careers by letting their worst moments define them. They’ll have that opportunity because their respective errors will be replayed time and time again. In that sense, Duda has now become the Mets version of Buckner.
This was a strange year in the National League Manager of the Year race. All the teams that were supposed to be contenders were actually contenders despite most of those teams suffering brutal injuries.
That Nationals lost Stephen Strasburg for a good part of the year and will likely not have him in the postseason. The Mets lost Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, David Wright, and Lucas Duda for a good portion of the season. At one point, the Dodgers entire starting projected rotation was on the disabled list with the most crushing blow being a Clayton Kershaw trip to the disabled list. The Cardinals have had their shortstops, Jhonny Peralta and Aledmys Diaz, on the disabled list with injuries, and they lost their closer Trevor Rosenthal. Even the Cubs suffered a huge injury with Kyle Schwarber going down with a torn ACL. With these teams overcoming those injuries, it could be quite difficult to determine who was actually the best manager in the National League this season. Taking all that into consideration, here is my ballot:
1st Place – Dave Roberts
A large part of his award goes to Roberts because of what he did despite his team being the most injured team in all of baseball. By the first week of the season, he lost two members of his starting rotation with Brett Anderson and Hyun-Jin Ryu. He would also lose important bullpen arms in Carlos Frias, Yimi Garcia, and Chris Hatcher for the year. He’d also deal with the most dramatic injury of all when Kershaw went down with a back injury.
When Kershaw made his last start before heading to the disabled list, the Dodgers were 41-36, eight games behind the Giants in the West and a game behind the Marlins for the second Wild Card. From that point forward, the Dodgers have the second best record in baseball. They have won the NL West for the second year in a row, and they seem poised to make a deep run in the postseason.
That’s not the only reason why Roberts is the Manager of the Year. He’s also capably handled a number of tricky situations that would have the potential to flummox other managers and potentially poison some clubhouses. He had to get Howie Kendrick to accept being a utility player and eventually an outfielder. He had to get one last great season out of Chase Utley. He would pull rookie Ross Stripling while he had a no-hitter going because it was the best thing for the young player’s career and the Dodgers’ future.
Clearly, Roberts has been unafraid to make the tough decisions. He had control of the clubhouse. He avoided near disaster, and he led his team from eight games back to win the NL West. That’s Manager of the Year material.
2nd – Joe Maddon
In reality, any other year this award would go to Maddon. Maddon has established himself as the best manager in the game.
Maddon was handed a roster that was easily a World Series favorite, and he delivered during the regular season. Not only did he get another great season from Jake Arrieta, but he also got better years from Jon Lester and John Lackey. By the way, somehow he got a Cy Young caliber season out of Kyle Hendricks.
We also saw Maddon play mad scientist like he loves to do. When Schwarber went down, Maddon took his budding superstar Kris Bryant and turned him into a Ben Zobrist type of player. It probably helped Bryant that he had the actual Zobrist on the team to give him some pointers. Additionally, never one to stay at the status quo, Maddon experimented using multiple relievers on the field.
On June 28th, Maddon would actually play Spencer Patton and Travis Wood in the outfield in a 15 inning game against the Reds. It actually worked out well for the Cubs. Patton started the 14th inning on the mound and Wood in left field. When Jay Bruce came up to bat, Maddon would switch them around to get Bruce out. After the Bruce at bat, Maddon switched them back so Patton could get Adam Duvall out. This was reminiscent of the 1986 game where Davey Johnson was forced to shift Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell between left field and the pitcher’s mound due to a Ray Knight ejection leaving the Mets without another position player. However, Maddon wasn’t forced into the decision. There wasn’t an injury or an ejection. Rather, Maddon did it because he simply believed it gave the Cubs the best chance to win the game.
That is the type of progressive thinking that has made Maddon the best manager in the game, and it has helped the Cubs to a 100 win season with the best record in baseball. If not for the terrific season Roberts had, Maddon would have won this quite easily.
3rd – Dusty Baker
Last year, the Nationals were done in by a toxic clubhouse and a terrible manager in Matt Williams. In the offseason, the Nationals did what they had to do in firing Williams, and then they had to settle on Baker as their manager.
Baker has always been a curious case. He has never been a favorite of the Sabermetrically inclined. He makes curious in-game decisions (hello Russ Ortiz), and he has a tendency to over rely on veterans over young players that are probably better and can do more to help the team win. Despite all of that, Baker has won wherever he has gone. He has brought the Giants, Cubs, Reds, and now the Nationals to the postseason. The reason is Baker is a manager that gets the most out of his players.
It wasn’t easy for him this year. Bryce Harper had a down year, Jonathan Papelbon wouldn’t last the season as either the closer or as a National, and Ben Revere would show he was not capable of being the center fielder for a good team. Worse yet, Strasburg went down with injury despite Baker actually being someone careful with his young pitcher. So how’d he do it. Well, he got career years from Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos. In a sign of growth, Baker trusted a young player in Trea Turner to not only play everyday, but also to play out of position. Mostly, Baker was Baker.
Overall, it is clear that Baker has some innate ability to get his teams to play well. He did that again this year in turning around a Nationals team that fell apart last year to a team that comfortably won the NL East.
Honorable Mention – Terry Collins
By no means did Collins have a strong year this year. You can point to the injuries, but he did do a lot to exacerbate them by playing players who he knew was injured. He had a year where he messed around with Michael Conforto‘s development and threatened the career of Jim Henderson by abusing his surgically repaired shoulder for a “must-win” game in April. Furthermore, he flat out abused the arms of Hansel Robles, Addison Reed, and Jeurys Familia. So no, Collins is not deserving of the award.
However, he is deserving of an honorable mention with the class and dignity he comported himself in the aftermath of Jose Fernandez‘s death. He made sure his team was there to console the Marlins, and he prepared his team to win games when some of his own players were devastated by Fernandez’s death. This was one of the many acts of kindness Collins has shown as the Mets manager, and it should be highlighted.
Yesterday, the Mets announced that the Mets will wear the iconic 1986 racing stripe jerseys every Sunday home game this season. I love these jerseys, but it does seem odd that the team is wearing these jerseys each and every Sunday.
The Mets everyday left fielder, Michael Conforto, was born on March 1, 1993. At that time, the only members of the 86 Mets still around were Dwight Gooden and Howard Johnson. Gooden’s Mets career was effectively over at that point. He was a shell of his former self due to drug abuse and injuries. HoJo was only a utility player on the 86 team. The main contribution he made that year was being the on deck batter when Ray Knight scored off of Mookie Wilson‘s little dribbled up the first base line.
It seems odd to me to see Conforto wearing a 25th anniversary patch that was created for a team seven years before he was born.
Again, if the Mets want to do this, they should do it right. Update the patch to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1986 World Series championship. This way it truly becomes an homage to the 1986 team that it was intended to be. Furthermore, the jerseys will look more appropriate when you purchase them.
Speaking of purchasing one, which I intend to do, there are two problems with the jerseys. The first is the diaper effect of the jerseys:
The next is if you don’t want the diaper, you don’t get the patch, nor do you get the option to personalize it:
Overall, I love that these jerseys are back. I think the Mets were smart making them the Sunday jerseys. I hope they return in 2017. I just wish they were updated to be the tribute the Mets wanted them to be.