Robinson Cano

Simulated Recap: Mets Lose Another 11 Inning Game

With there being no baseball, or really any professional sports being played right now, MLB The Show 20 continues simulating the 2020 season.

The second game of the season went much like the first. Like with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, Marcus Stroman and Stephen Strasburg each had a no decision. Robinson Cano also homered, and Jake Marisnick would be caught stealing.

The game would also go into extras. Like on Opening Day when Robert Gsellman pitched a second inning, Justin Wilson would do the same. Wilson would also take the loss after surrendering a run in the top of the 11th.

This time the rally started with a Howie Kendrick lead-off single. After a wild pitch and fielder’s choice, he’d be on third with two outs. Whereas the Mets couldn’t turn a double play to keep the run from scoring on Opening Day, Brandon Nimmo just couldn’t get to a Kurt Suzuki shallow bloop near the line.

Instead of a 3-2 loss, the Mets lost this one 3-2 with Sean Doolittle recording the save again. Doolittle taking care of business against the Mets might be the most unrealistic part of these simulations.

In the end, these simulations highlight just how close these two teams are on paper. From these simulations, we’ve apparently missed out on some exciting baseball games. On the bright side, these losses don’t count for anything.

Mets Lose Simulated Opening Day

The Mets didn’t have Opening Day. No one did, but everyone tried to do something to celebrate Opening Day. The Mets tried something interesting, and they simulated Opening Day using MLB The Show, and it was broadcast on Twitter and YouTube.

In the game, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer pitched no decisions, and much like last year, Robinson Cano homered off of Scherzer.

Ultimately, the Mets would lose in extra innings. Robert Gsellman walked the lead-off batter, Adam Eaton, and then the Mets couldn’t turn a double play in two attempts.

The first, Jeff McNeil pulled Cano off the bag. The second, Eric Thames beat the throw giving him a go-ahead RBI ground out which would prove to be the winning run in the 3-2 game.

What does this all mean? Nothing really. It’s not indicative of how this game would’ve went, nor is it a harbinger of things to come in 2020 when the Mets are able to play.

Overall, it was something, which is far better than nothing. In the end, it helps pass the time, is mildly entertaining, and it would be made much better if they can get Gary, Keith, and Ron to announce the games.

Hopefully, they’ll continue to show these games in some fashion until we get actual baseball. More than that, the real hope is real, actual baseball can return soon.

Steven Matz Is Clearly The Mets Fourth Best Starter

All offseason, we’re hearing Steven Matz is in a competition for a spot in the rotation. This is despite the fact he’s very clearly the team’s fourth starter. Anyone who takes the time to look at the data and trends can see it.

Remember, it’s 2020.

Rick Porcello‘s 2016 Cy Young Award is irrelevant. Michael Wacha‘s 2013 NLCS MVP is irrelevant. Neither pitcher is that pitcher. Not anymore.

What matters now is Matz is better than those two. Fact is, the ONLY reason why he wouldn’t be in the rotation is the GM didn’t acquire him. Yes, it would be the only reason, and if that happens (much like Robinson Cano batting third much of 2019), it’s unacceptable.

It’s time the Mets stop this nonsense, and stop the flood of tweets, including those from reporters well connected to the Mets, and just say Matz isn’t just in the rotation, but he’s the team’s fourth starter.

After all, of the three, he’s the only pitcher guaranteed to be here in 2021, and more than that, right now, in 2020, he’s the best pitcher of the three. Considering the strides he made last year, he may even prove to be more than that.

Mets Best 2020 Promotions For Kids

Let’s get it out of the way. The best promotions of every season is the bobbleheads, and there are some good ones with Pete Alonso, Jacob deGromJeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Noah Syndergaard, and Robinson Cano having their own bobblehead days. In fact, with Alonso having a Marvel superhero bobblehead, there are two for him.

Those are always the best and most fun, but that’s only if you can get them. Fact is, the lines are way too long for them, and those lines can get a bit aggressive with people pushing forward to try to get one of the bobbleheads. Up until the Mets choose to be like big market teams like the Milwaukee Brewers, we’re just going to have to deal with the unnecessary inconvenience the Mets create by having bobbleheads for roughly half of those in attendance.

The good news for parents is the bobbleheads aren’t the only fun promotions during the 2020 season. There is also the Michael Conforto Funko Pop on August 25th, but it is safe to assume that day will have bobblehead type issues. Looking at the schedule, here are some other fun ones specifically geared towards kids:

April 19 – Player Poster
May 31 – Player Poster
July 5 – Player Poster
July 19 – Slime
August 2 – Toy Truck
August 16 – Baseball cards
August 30 – Player Poster

In terms of the player posters, the specific players have not yet been named. However, as we saw when the Mets were miked, Dominic Smith especially, this is a fun and likeable Mets team. Chances are any poster you get is going to be great.

The same goes for the baseball cards.

The toy truck and slime are fun because those are more traditional kids toys, but they will have a Mets theme to them. If your kid loves baseball, that’s right up their alley.

Of course, no discussion on fun promotions for kids is complete without mentioning the Mr. Met Dash. In terms of the Mr. Met Dash, be prepared.

Be ready to leave the game early and wait on line. That can be partially circumvented by joining the Mr. Met Kids’ Club, but only partially.

Another note is the Mets don’t do it for Sunday Night Baseball, so before you get your tickets just make sure the matchup isn’t one which could get flexed to prime time.

One final note here is if you think your children are old enough to learn about and appreciate Mets history, go to the June 13 game when Jerry Koosman‘s 36 is going to be retired.

Overall, Citi Field is a fun place for kids, especially for Sunday day games. Take advantage of it and help make your child a lifelong Mets fan.

Jeff McNeil Should Leadoff With Brandon Nimmo Batting Second

The New York Mets have the challenge of trying to figure out how best to stack their left-handed batters in the lineup. Part of how they do that is picking a leadoff hitter. That is easier said than done when the Mets have three batters in Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo, each of whom have effectively lead-off.

On the surface, Nimmo is the perfect lead-off hitter as he is a speedy player who is able to get on-base at a very good clip. In his career, he has a .387 OBP with a 15.2% walk rate. Since his breakout season in 2018, he has been a .250/.395/.459 hitter (137 wRC+) with a 16.0% walk rate.

All told, Nimmo is the prototypical lead-off hitter, and just about every team in the majors should want him leading off. That said, the Mets aren’t just any team.

In McNeil, the Mets have a completely different kind of lead-off hitter. Much in the style of Ichiro Suzuki, McNeil comes to the plate ready to hit and put the ball wherever he needs to put it in order to get on base. While Nimmo makes a pitcher work to get him out, McNeil challenges a pitcher to get him out.

Whereas you want your lead-off hitter to get the pitcher to work the count to allow the rest of the lineup to see what the pitcher has that day, McNeil comes up ready to hit. In fact, McNeil swings at the first pitch 48.7% of the time. For him, that’s a good idea because he is a .421/.439/.855 hitter against the first pitch with 16 doubles and 16 homers.

In fact, he has more doubles and homers off the first pitch than any other pitch. Aside from a 3-0 count, which he reaches very rarely, he has his highest OBP and SLG off the first pitch than any other pitch.

One other factor here is how pitchers pitch. As noted by ESPN, the starting pitcher’s first pitch of the game is a fastball approximately 97.5% of the time. Against fastballs, McNeil hits .340 off of fastballs with a .544 SLG. He makes contact with the fastball 75.5% of the time.

When you break it down, you want McNeil swinging at the first pitch, and you want him attacking the fastball. Given the predictability of a first pitch fastball to begin the game, McNeil is ideally suited to lead-off the game and wreck havoc from the first pitch of the game.

After McNeil, you can turn to Nimmo who can give you everything you want from a lead-off hitter. He can work the count, and he can find a way on base. If McNeil doesn’t reach base, you get a chance to reset and have your best OBP guy try to get on base in front of Pete Alonso and Conforto.

Another note here is as noted by Fangraphs teams should want their best hitters to bat second. In 2018, Nimmo had a 148 wRC+. That is the best single-season mark anyone on this Mets team has had. That includes Robinson Cano.

Taking everything into account, while Nimmo might be the ideal lead-off hitter, for the Mets, the ideal situation would be to have McNeil leading off with Nimmo right behind him. By doing that, you get the most out of McNeil’s abilities, and you get to have Nimmo act almost as a second lead-off hitter.

From there, you set the table perfectly for Alonso and Conforto, which with the Mets starting pitching, could lead to the Mets getting early leads and putting a strangle-hold on their opponents.

Mets Need An Andres Gimenez Plan

Too much was made of Andres Gimenez‘s down year last year. He was a 20 year old shortstop playing in Double-A with a wrist injury. While it appeared he struggled, he was an above-average league hitter (105 wRC+) despite his being 4.1 years younger than the competition.

If there was any doubt the dip in his production based upon prior years was related to his wrist, he would have a strong stint in the Arizona Fall League hitting .371/.413/.586. So far, he has followed that up with a very strong Spring Training.

We should be wary of relying upon small sample sizes like we see in the Arizona Fall League and this Spring Training. We should also be wary of overreacting to a player not having the year you would expect when he plays through an injury. Instead, we need to focus on the player and his skill set.

What we saw in the Arizona Fall League and in Spring Training right now is a tinkered swing from Gimenez designed to help him generate more power. While we didn’t see the fruits of it when he had an injured wrist, we are seeing it now. The challenge for Gimenez is to continue this into the regular season with Triple-A Syracuse.

The challenge for the New York Mets is to figure out exactly what the future is for Gimenez because as things stand right now, he is completely blocked.

Amed Rosario is the everyday shortstop, and he is under team control through the 2023 season. Robinson Cano is the second baseman, and he will be paid $20 million by the Mets through the 2023 season. Jeff McNeil is the everyday third baseman, and he is under team control through the 2024 season. Really, there is no spot for Gimenez in the infield for an additional three years, and he is going to be ready to be called up to the majors well before that.

If Gimenez is the top 100 player he was before outlets arguably overreacted to his 2019 season, he is a talented player who can be part of a core of a World Series winning team. For him to be that, at least in Queens, the Mets have to have a spot for him. There needs to be a plan.

At the moment, there does not appear to be one. In that sense, the Mets are putting themselves in a situation not too different than the one they found themselves with Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. With those players, they had two top 100 prospects who were at the same position and were going to be Major League ready at the same time.

They didn’t move one in a blockbuster trade to help the roster win a World Series. No, they moved a player in Jarred Kelenic, who they actually needed given the dearth of real outfield prospects in the Mets farm system. On that note, the Mets still do have a future (and current) hole in center, and they still have not prepared for how to best fill that hole.

Given Gimenez’s defensive skills, perhaps the Mets should move Rosario to center. On that note, Rosario has the speed and agility to thrive out there. However, it is difficult to make that change now when he is your starting shortstop. That leaves the Mets to look to move Gimenez out there this season. He certainly has the skill-set to play well out there.

Or maybe, the Mets best play is just to trade one of Rosario, McNeil, or Gimenez after the season to help them withstand the potential loss 2/5 of their rotation with Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello being pending free agents.

Ultimately, there are many potential paths on how to handle Gimenez and the rest of the roster. Whatever the case, the Mets need to set a plan now because Gimenez is starting the year in Triple-A, and based upon what we are seeing, he is going to be ready to contribute at the Major League level sooner rather than later.

Jed Lowrie Had The Debilitating Knee Injury Wilmer Flores Never Had

It was officially one year ago today reports surfaced of Jed Lowrie‘s knee injury. When it first occurred, we assumed this was probably nothing more than one of those early aches some players feel during Spring Training. As is usually the case, the Mets really had no idea of the severity of the injury, how to properly manage or diagnose it, or how to get the player back on the field.

By and large, this injury kept Lowrie from playing in the field, and it limited him to just eight pinch hitting appearances in 2019. In those appearances, he had no hits, drew one walk, and struck out four times.

Fast forward to this year, and Lowrie is wearing a leg brace to help him participate in Spring Training. At the moment, no one knows if Lowrie will be able to effectively play with the brace, if he can only play with a brace, or for that matter when or if he will be able to ever play.

With all due respect to Jason Bay, Luis Castillo, Roger Cedeno, Vince Coleman, and George Foster, Lowrie is shaping up to be the absolute worst free agent signing in Mets history.

What makes this signing all the more troubling is Lowrie’s agent was Brodie Van Wagenen. If there was any GM in baseball who was well aware of the health issues of Lowrie, it would be his agent. Looking back, instead of the enthusiasm for the signing, perhaps there should have been more inquiry why a player coming off an All-Star season and had an 8.8 WAR over the previous two seasons could do not better than signing with the Mets to split time with Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, and Amed Rosario.

The Mets have completely and utterly wasted $20 million on a player who cannot play due to knee injuries. What makes this ironic is the Mets purportedly non-tendered Wilmer Flores partially due to knee injuries which never really existed.

While it was initially reported Flores had arthritis, subsequent reports indicated that was a misdiagnosis. In fact, Flores had tendonitis. Instead of paying him less than $5 million, or working out a team friendly extension he might’ve been inclined to sign, Flores would go to Arizona.

While he had his usual health issues, Flores had a productive season with the Diamondbacks. While continuing to improve against right-handed pitching, he had a 120 wRC+, which was the best of his career. He mostly held his own at second with a -2 DRS and a 1 OAA. That’s right, according to OAA, Flores was a positive defender. Overall, he was worth a 0.8 WAR in 89 games.

Lost in that was Flores’ clutch gene. The same player who is the Mets all-time leader in game winning RBI came up huge down the stretch for the Diamondbacks. From August to the end of the season, he hit .368/.410/.623. His 166 wRC+ over this stretch ranked as the fifth best in the majors.

While this was not enough for Flores’ option to be picked up by the Diamondbacks, he was signed by the San Francisco Giants to a two year $6.25 million deal. In total, that’s $10 million over three years for Flores. Put another way, that’s what Lowrie made in 2019 alone for his eight pinch hitting attempts.

Going forward, the Mets attempts to get another team to take on Lowrie’s contract so they could make another move failed. Meanwhile, Flores is 28 years old and in the prime of his career. Seeing the continued improvements he has made against right-handed pitching and OAA rating his defense much better, Flores could out-play his contract.

In the end, the Mets had a player in Flores who was popular, had a right-handed bat which complimented their heavy left-handed hitting lineup, was comfortable and effective on the bench, and could backup at all four infield positions. Rather than keep him around, Van Wagenen opted to sign his former client who cannot play to a $20 million deal.

Mets Didn’t Really Pursue Francisco Lindor Or Mookie Betts

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the Mets pursued Francisco Lindor and Mookie Betts this offseason. Sherman is a great reporter, and no one should question any of the information he provided, but when you read the article, there is one real conclusion to make.

The Mets didn’t really have interest in Lindor or Betts. Really, this was more of the same where the Mets try to sell after the fact they tried. The Mets do this all the time, and somehow they once again made the prudent decision once again showing the baseball world they know better than everyone.

Honestly, calling Lindor more of a need than a want is absurd. In his career, he has easily been a top 10 player in the game, and he is very clearly the best shortstop in all of baseball. The Mets and everyone can like Amed Rosario as much as they want, but he’s not anywhere near Lindor’s level, and even at his best, it is difficult to argue he will be at Lindor’s level over the next two years.

Keep in mind, the Mets have to make up 11 games in the standings to the Atlanta Braves. They’re also trying to gain ground on the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals. Significantly improving at any position was a need, not a want.

As for Betts, the Mets attempts to get him were laughable. The Red Sox were looking to move him due to luxury tax concerns, so naturally, the Mets were pushing the Red Sox to take back the back contract of Yoenis Cespedes or Jed Lowrie. Trading Cespedes was increasingly laughable considering how poorly things went for Cespedes in Boston, which was part of the reason the Red Sox traded him to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello.

Then we get to potentially headlining a deal with J.D. Davis. The Dodgers were offering Alex Verdugo, who is a significantly better player with more control, and the Mets counter was Davis, who, even if you buy his bat, doesn’t have a position on the field.

Yes, the Mets also offered Brandon Nimmo in potential deals, but you go back to how much the Mets really offered him, and of course, the packages offered mattered. Clearly, any package offered never really moved the needle as the Mets were well outside of a three team trade, which at a time, appeared to be a four team trade with the Angels nearing getting Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling as a side deal to the blockbuster.

Another funny note from the article was Jeff McNeil.

Supposedly, McNeil was supposed to be a part of the trade with the Seattle Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz only for us now to believe they Mets turned down trades for J.T. Realmuto because the Marlins wanted McNeil. That’s right, the Mets were willing to potentially trade McNeil for Cano and Diaz but not Realmuto.

Ok, sure, we all buy it just like we buy the Mets were really interested in trading for Lindor or Betts.

Knicks Hire CAA Agent To Run Team Because It Worked So Well For Mets

Just when you thought the New York Knicks were maybe starting to get it, they go out and hire Leon Rose to be their new team president. While there are some who believe this could be a boon for the Knicks much in the same vein Bob Myers with the Warriors or Rob Pelinka with the Lakers, we remember everyone thought it was a good idea to get Rose in the past.

That was the trade with the Chicago Bulls for Derrick Rose. That ended with Rose disappearing and having one of, if not the, worst season of his career.

Looking forward, we see with the Mets hiring a CAA agent is not exactly the best route to success. In fact, aside from not selling the team to Steve Cohen, hiring Brodie Van Wagenen to become the Mets GM has been one of the worst decisions the Wilpons have made over the past two years.

In very short order, Van Wagenen ruined the Mets prospect depth and payroll flexibility. Part of that was his fulfilling Robinson Cano‘s request to come back to New York, and his signing Jed Lowrie, who was physically unable to play last year. Notably, both players were his former clients.

In terms of the prospect depth, we have seen Jarred Kelenic, Anthony Kay, Justin Dunn, and Simeon Woods Richardson reach top 100 rankings.

Van Wagenen has also fired Carlos Beltran for being part of the Astros sign stealing scandal despite trading for two former Astros, J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick, who had also taken part in that scandal. While Van Wagenen denied any knowledge of the scandal, he notably traded for Marisnick after the news broke.

He has portrayed Hector Santiago as a bit of a savior while also allowing Zack Wheeler to go to a division rival (partially due to budgetary restraints). He also proved to not be true to his word forcing Devin Mesoraco into retirement, cutting Adeiny Hechavarria before he accrued a bonus, and never calling up Dilson Herrera.

As bad as the Wilpons are and continue to be, Van Wagenen has made everything worse.

While Rose may be different than Van Wagenen, the Wilpons are not discernibly different from James Dolan in terms of running a professional sports franchise. Ultimately, while it may not be fair to look at Rose like the next Van Wagenen, you do have to fairly question whether Dolan is more Wilpon or whether he is more like the Warriors or Lakers.

Seeing how Rose’s representation of Carmelo Anthony helped foster the relationship with Dolan much like how Van Wagenen’s representation of Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier fostered the relationship with the Wilpons, you shudder as a Knicks and Mets fan.

Hopefully, Rose is different than Van Wagenen, and he proves to actually know what he is doing. After all, you can cross your fingers Dolan has some clue with how he operates the Rangers. You don’t have the same faith with the Wilpons with their inability to even earn a profit of over a billion.

In the end, the Rose hire may be very different than the Van Wagenen one. No one should have that faith just yet.

Why We Remain Mets Fans Despite The Wilpons

The Wilpons are the worst owners in professional sports, and based on their turning down over a billion in profit, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. With them and their equally incompetent General Manager, there is a sense of despair and/or anger which comes with being a Mets fan. Still, even with the Wilpons being horrible and their not going anywhere, there are reasons to still root for this team:

Pete Alonso – Rookie Home Run King who got the entire team cleats to honor the first responders of 9/11

Dellin Betances – he waited for the opportunity and came back to sign with the Mets because he wanted to stay in New York

Brad Brach – like you and me, he was wearing a Mets jersey rooting for them to win the 2015 World Series (even if he was an Oriole)

Robinson Cano – a truly charitable person who is working to stop domestic violence

Michael Conforto – willing to play any position to help the team, and when he’s hitting there’s few better

Jacob deGrom – the best pitcher in baseball

Edwin Diaz – it takes a big man to admit he had problems with the city making it easy to root for him to be dominant again.

Jeurys Familia – he came back here because he loves being a Met

Luis Guillorme – when finally given a real chance, he proved he can do much more than catch an errant bat.

Robert Gsellman – despite injury did all he could do to come back to try to pitch the Mets into the postseason like he did in 2016

Jed Lowrie – did everything he could give last year and earned those eight PH attempts

Seth Lugo – the best reliever in baseball

Steven Matz – a true blue Mets fan like us all who works to thank and help first responders

Jeff McNeil – a true throwback player who adopts puppies

Tomas Nido – strong defensive catcher who underwent elective surgery to improve his game.

Brandon Nimmo – his joy in baseball and life is only surpassed by his ability to get on base

Rick Porcello – took less to fulfill his boyhood dream of pitching for the Mets

Wilson Ramos – his learning his wife was pregnant with their next child was one of the most heartwarming parts of the 2019 season

Rene Rivera – keeps coming back to work with this pitching staff

Amed Rosario – as hardworking and exciting a player as there is, and he’s about to breakout.

Paul Sewald – a 10th round draft pick who proves himself in his scattered and limited chances

Dominic Smith – got healthy and proved himself to be a good baseball player and terrific teammate

Marcus Stroman – wants baseball to be fun, and he’s a role model to everyone showing it takes heart to be a great player (HDMH)

Noah Syndergaard – he’s standing 60′ 6″ away, and he’s the last Mets pitcher to win a World Series game.

Justin Wilson – pitched through injury to be a very reliable bullpen arm

Ultimately, even with the cheaters on the roster, this remains a very likeable team, and it is guided by a manager in Luis Rojas who Mets fans should soon love. It is hard to stay away from players like this even with their playing for absolutely despicable ownership.

When you account for Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling, the Mets broadcasts are unparalleled in their greatness. If nothing else, it is worth watching them do what they do best. It is even better when the Mets have players on the field like they will in 2020.

Combine that with wanting to share baseball with your parents, siblings, and children, and you are going to watch a team you have loved all your life. Ultimately, this is an easy team to root for, which unfortunately, is why boycotts never work, and why the Wilpons will always win.

That’s fine. We can still enjoy life and Mets baseball despite them. We can also make every effort we can to get rid of them and to let them know how much we want them gone. Sooner or later, they will be gone, and we will still be here.

Lets Go Mets!