One of the more bewildering aspects of the saga of Brodie Van Wagenen is how he went from agent to GM and back to agent. That journey saw him go from the agent of Robinson Cano to the GM overpaying to acquire him to representing Cano again.
Cano wasn’t the only member of the New York Mets organization for whom this was true. It was also the case for Dominic Smith, a player who was surprisingly added to the 2019 Opening Day roster even with Pete Alonso being named the Opening Day starter at the same position. It was also true for a notable Mets prospect – Mark Vientos.
If we want to get into technicalities, it is Roc Nation who represents these players. That was the case then and now. Notably, Van Wagenen is now the COO of Roc Nation. As a result, he has personal ties to these players, especially the Mets ones. He made that very clear on Vientos:
Big Pete Alonso is a super star and one of the best power hitters of this generation. A comparison of Pete’s age 22 year old season to @MarkVientos_5 at the same age illustrates an exciting trajectory. pic.twitter.com/nbmDRgxFhu
— Brodie Van Wagenen (@RocBVW) February 3, 2023
There is a lot to be said about comparing Alonso and Vientos. Certainly, years ago, it did some as if Vientos could have had a brighter Major League future than Alonso.
Right now, Vientos is 23 years old, and he’s already accumulated 41 Major League plate appearances. We did see a glimpse of what he could be at the plate when he hit his first career home run. It was an opposite field job to boot in the cavernous Oakland Athletics ballpark:
MARK VIENTOS HITS HIS FIRST MAJOR-LEAGUE HOME RUN! pic.twitter.com/Y0ca6JAlHW
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 24, 2022
Vientos hitting his first Major League homer at 22 is very impressive. To put it in perspective, Alonso began his age 22 season with then High-A St. Lucie. He would finish that year with Double-A Binghamton.
It needs to be reiterated. At the age Vientos was called up to DH in a pennant race, Alonso was just making his way to Double-A.
Looking at it that way, Vientos is light years ahead of where Alonso was. In fact, for much of his professional career, Vientos has been far ahead of where Alonso was at that age.
However, that’s really a small part of the picture. We need to account for Vientos being drafted out of high school as opposed to Alonso being drafted out of college.
More than that, we need to realize what Alonso did with his opportunities, and what he’s done as a Major Leaguer. Alonso is a two-time All-Star who set the rookie home run record, and in many ways, is and outright superstar in this league.
Comparing anyone to him is insane. More than that, it’s just wrong. Overall, it’s just unfair to that player.
It is certainly possible Vientos could be better than Alonso and be a better power hitter. The potential is there even if it requires him to do much of the work Alonso did, and really, more than Alonso did.
So no, we can’t discount Vientos much in the same way we can’t discount all the work Alonso put in to make himself not just a Major Leaguer, but a legitimate All-Star. We can believe in the player while acknowledging the long road ahead.
That’s why it’s unfair. Vientos can do everything Alonso did and more, and he may still fall short of that standard. Seeing where Alonso is as a big leaguer, failing to be that or better should not be viewed as a failure.
All we can say is Vientos is a good power hitting prospect with a legitimate chance to have a long Major League career. Anything past that is wrong and unfair to him.
Put another way, Brodie Van Wagenen again needs to knock it off.
Before the season, there were 60 bold predictions made heading into the New York Mets 60th season. Here is a look back at how those bold predictions worked out:
1. The New York Mets will win the 2022 World Series.
While they won 101 games, they collapsed late in the season, and they would lose in three games to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card round.
2. Howie Rose will retire after the season. The Mets have already tabbed their replacement in Jake Eisenberg, and Rose could not pass up the opportunity to go out calling a Mets World Series victory.
Fortunately, Howie has not announced his retirement.
3. Rose will return in some limited fashion to SNY and will be a fill-in replacement in 2023 and beyond.
4. Francisco Lindor will be the NL MVP. Like Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran, he’s going to have a huge second year. Unlike them, he wont’ be denied the award.
Lindor did have a huge second year, but a broken finger cost him any chance of winning the award.
5. Dominic Smith will force his way into the lineup. Yes, he’s battling with J.D. Davis and Robinson Cano for the DH spot, but like he did in 2019 and 2020, he’s going to force his way into the everyday lineup and not relinquish his spot.
As it turned out, Smith was not given a real shot to be the DH. Not only did he not force his way into the lineup, but he was demoted to Triple-A, and he was not called up even with the expanded rosters. He was non-tendered after the season.
6. Edwin Diaz will be an All-Star. Diaz has been an every other year pitcher in his career, and following that pattern, this is his year.
Diaz was an All-Star.
7. The Mets All-Stars this season will be Diaz, Lindor, and Max Scherzer.
Diaz was the only All-Star from this group. The other Mets All-Stars were Pete Alonso, Starling Marte, and Jeff McNeil.
8. Jacob deGrom will receive some Cy Young votes. Whenever he comes back, he’s going to be deGrom, and he’s going to be so great, he’s going to appear on ballots.
It started that way, but deGrom wasn’t quite as sharp when he returned. He did not receive any votes.
9. Jeff McNeil will finish the season as the left fielder. That is an injury prone outfield, and McNeil will eventually be forced to move out there.
As it turned out, he finished the season as the right fielder, but he moved back to second when Marte returned from injury for the postseason.
10. Robinson Cano will reclaim a starting job. We forget that when Cano played he was actually good in the field. If the outfield is as injury prone as we think, we will eventually play almost every day at second or DH.
Wow, this one was way off the mark and couldn’t have been more wrong.
11. Chris Bassitt will have a slow first month frustrating fans, but he will have a terrific stretch starting in the middle of May as he adjusts to working with the new catchers and Jeremy Hefner.
It was the opposite for Bassitt. He was strong all season until the very end.
12. Starling Marte is going to have a fast start and quickly become a fan favorite. When he’s snubbed at All-Star time, fans are going to be livid.
Marte was a fan favortite, and Mets fans would not let him be snubbed with their voting him in as a starter.
13. Mark Vientos will have a thrilling MLB debut. Vientos’ bat is arguably Major League ready, and he’s going to get some run during some point of the season as a third baseman or DH. He may not relinquish a spot.
For whatever which reason, the Mets were reluctant all year to give him a shot. After the Darin Ruf trade disaster, he finally got a shot in a pennant race and was less then thrilling.
14. Brett Baty will be moved at the trade deadline. With the emergence of Vientos and the ground ball problems, the Mets feel comfortable moving him for that big piece at the trade deadline.
Baty was not moved, and he would be called up to be the team’s everyday third baseman until his own season ending injury.
15. The Mets everyday catcher is not on the Opening Day roster. At some point, the Mets will swing a deal or call up Francisco Alvarez to take over as the everyday catcher.
With his ankle injury, Álvarez was only called up to DH late in the season. Tomas Nido did supplant James McCann as the starter.
16. The Philadelphia Phillies will be the Mets main contenders. Last year, the Atlanta Braves were dead in the water until the Mets were too injured. The Mets won’t do that again this year, and the Phillies pitching and hitters will give people more of a run than we think.
Well, the Phillies won the pennant, so this was only true to that extent. However, the Mets missed their every chance to bury the Braves and would eventually collapse.
17. The Atlanta Braves will not challenge the Mets at all for the division. They’ll really miss Freddie Freeman, the bullpen will falter, and they will not get Ronald Acuna Jr. back in time.
This was very true in June. It was not true at all after that.
18. Tylor Megill will last the entire season in the rotation. Now that he’s here, it is going to be difficult to remove him from the rotation. If need be, the Mets will go to a six man rotation to keep him in the majors.
Megill had a good run as a starter until he was injured. He returned late in the season and moved to the bullpen. He is likely in the mix for the rotation next season.
19. Carlos Carrasco will rebound and will pitch like he did with Cleveland, but he will not make more than 20 starts.
Shockingly, not only did Carrasco rebound, but he also made 29 starts.
20. Trevor Williams will become a huge part of the Mets bullpen as he becomes more of a fastball/slider pitcher.
Williams was a vital part of this team all season.
21. Steve Cohen will purchase SNY during the course as the 2022 season as the Wilpons are scared off by the increasing rights deals with streamers.
This did not happen.
22. The Mets will have multiple Gold Glove winners with Lindor and Marte.
The Mets did not have any winners with only Nido being a finalist. In terms of the voting, there were multiple Mets who were snubbed despite excellent defensive numbers.
23. Hefner will get interviews for managerial positions with other teams after this season.
His name has not surfaced as a managerial candidate.
24. So will Eric Chavez.
Neither has him.
25. The Mets will not have any player at DH for more than 40 games this season.
This was very close to being true. J.D. Davis was a DH in 41 games before the team mercifully got rid of him. After the trade deadline, Daniel Vogelbach was the DH in 46 games.
26. J.D. Davis will make multiple relief appearances for the Mets this season.
He did not.
27. The Joely Rodriguez trade will work out as well as the Alex Torres trade did for the Mets.
While Rodriguez had his moments, he had an 87 ERA+ making his largely true.
28. None of the Mets outfielders will play over 135 games this season.
To our collective surprise, Brandon Nimmo played a career high 151 games. Mark Canha would play 140.
29. Fans will fall in love with Nick Plummer and get more frustrated by Khalil Lee.
For a one week stretch, when Plummer hit that ninth inning homer against the Phillies, Mets fans did fall in love with him before he stopped hitting as a part time DH. No Mets fan paid any attention to Lee.
30. Mark Canha will play more games than any other Mets outfielder, but he will have the lowest WAR out of all the regular outfielders.
Canha played fewer games than Nimmo, but he did have the lowest WAR among outfielders.
31. There will be an issue over Marcus Stroman not receiving a video tribute when the Chicago Cubs visit the Mets in September.
There wasn’t any issues with Stroman during the season, and he did not pitch against the Mets this year.
32. Old Timers’ Day will have one team wearing the 1986 Mets jerseys and the other team wearing the black jerseys.
That did not happen.
33. Carlos Beltran will not return to Citi Field for Old Timers’ Day. We also will not see Carlos Delgado.
Sadly, this was true.
34. The loudest ovation on Old Timers’ Day will go to Piazza. The second loudest will go to Nolan Ryan, who will be a surprise attendee.
It was difficult to ascertain who got the loudest ovation which was a great thing.
35. The defensive highlight of the season will come from Luis Guillorme.
This award probably goes to McNeil for robbing the Oneil Cruz homer, but Guillorme had more than his fair share of highlights.
36. Pete Alonso will take a step back defensively, and he will see more time at DH than initially expected.
Alonso took a big step back defensively, but the Mets hesitated to give him more time at DH even to give him rest late in the season.
37. A week or two into the season, we will hear some rumblings about Michael Conforto looking to return to the Mets. He won’t return, and likely, he will not sign with anyone until after the Major League draft.
There were some rumblings about Conforto, but he wasn’t tied with the Mets. He also did not sign with any team.
38. Some team will crack the frequency on the pitch calling device, and we will eventually know it is them because they will be the surprise team of the 2022 season. It won’t be the Mets.
We heard nothing on that front, but we should give this one time.
39. Mets fans will actually enjoy the Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts this season.
Nope, we didn’t, and it didn’t help that David Cone was saying Mets fans would complain about them not being GKR.
40. Showalter will be the 2022 NL Manager of the Year, and it might be unanimous.
Whether or not it was the right call, Showalter won, and it was close to being unanimous.
41. Seth Lugo will return to his dominant form, but he will only be a one inning reliever. The multiple inning role will be assumed by Williams.
This one was actually true.
42. The Tom Seaver statue will be perfect.
This one should’ve been true. However, Paul Lukas of Uniwatch found the flaw.
43. Drew Smith will take over the eighth inning and will be groomed as the next closer. He will not take over the eighth due to any fault of Trevor May who will have another good year.
Smith was well on his way until injury. May did not have a great year, but that was mostly due to injury. It should be noted he stepped up late in the season and in the postseason.
44. People will talk about how Scherzer isn’t what they thought he’d be and the contract was a mistake. Those people will be idiots.
With Scherzer dealing with an oblique injury and faltering against the Braves and Padres, this ultimately proved true.
45. The Mets are going to have a monster second half with them running away with the division.
The Mets did have a monster second half until they faltered against the weakest September schedule. Truth is they should have run away with the division.
46. With the Toronto Blue Jays winning the division, the Mets are going to make a push to get their unvaccinated players vaccinated to ensure their availability for the World Series.
The Blue Jays made the postseason. With them and the Mets losing in the Wild Card round, this was not remotely an issue.
47. Jeurys Familia will receive a tribute video when he returns to Citi Field, and there will be a mix of cheers and boos with probably more boos.
It was a chilly reception.
48. The Wild Card round will be a complete dud and fans will be clamoring for the return of the winner-take-all Wild Card Game.
So far, fans seems to be unhappy with the postseason changes.
49. We will see David Peterson bounced around between starting and relieving due to the injury issues with the Mets starting staff. He will struggle for it.
Peterson did quite well even if he had some struggles, and he stayed in the rotation for the most part.
50. The Mets will not need to add bullpen pieces at the deadline because we will see pitchers like Colin Holderman and Thomas Szapucki emerge as quality relief options at the Major League level.
Holderman emerged as a quality relief option, but he would be traded for Vogelbach. Szapucki was moved to the bullpen with Syracuse with an eye towards using him in that role. He too would be traded for a platoon DH option (Ruf). The Mets only added Mychael Givens at the deadline while espousing they liked what they had.
51. James McCann will have very similar production to what he had in 2021, and in short order, he will find himself in a catching rotation with Tomas Nido.
This proved true with Nido finally taking over full duties at the very end of the season.
52. No New York baseball player will sign an in-season extension. That includes deGrom and Nimmo, and it also includes Aaron Judge.
True, but Diaz was signed before the start of free agency.
53. There will be no negative articles written about Showalter this season even during a time in the season where the Mets slump (as even the best teams in baseball always do).
True even as his team collapsed.
54. Taijuan Walker will make the fewest starts of anyone in the Mets pitching rotation.
Walker tied for the second most starts. deGrom would actually make the fewest starts.
55. The Mets will have a no-hitter this season, but it will not be from a starting pitcher going all nine innings.
On April 29, the Co-No happened.
56. This will be the last Major League season with nine inning double headers. We will see the return of seven inning double headers in 2023.
This likely will not happen.
57. The Mets will announce their next Hall of Fame class, and it will include Al Leiter and Johan Santana.
There was no such announcment, but there was the announcement of Willie Mays and Keith Hernandez having their numbers retired.
58. Mets fans will not care about the Apple TV game, but they will be absolutely livid about the game on Peacock. Of course, MLB will not care one iota about the blowback.
MLB did not care about the lack of quality with the games, and honestly, while there were complaints, Mets fans didn’t complain nearly as much about the streaming games as you’d anticipate.
59. Showalter is going to get Guillorme in a lot of games for late inning defense.
It actually proved to be more than just that. Showalter got Guillorme into the lineup due to his glove.
60. To reiterate, the Mets will win the World Series, and they will not have to wait another three decades for their next World Series.
To reiterate, I’m an idiot, and I’ll probably make the same prediction next year.
The writing had been on the wall, and now, it’s official. With the New York Mets non-tendering Dominic Smith, his tenure with the team has now ended.
In many ways, it never really began.
Despite Smith being a first round pick and top 100 prospect, he was only given 49 games in 2017 to claim the first base job. This was at a time when he had undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea.
That sleep apnea interfered with his chances of winning the first base job over Adrián González. It should be noted here the Mets brought in competition for Smith’s job but not Amed Rosario’s.
Rosario was never challenged for his job despite his failures. Smith was never given the chance to succeed.
In Smith’s entire six year career with the Mets, he entered Opening Day as the team’s first baseman zero times. Yes, Pete Alonso had a lot to do with that, but the organization’s unwillingness to give him the job played into it more.
Remember, after González was designated for assignment in 2018, Smith was not recalled to play first despite the team being effectively eliminated from postseason competition in May.
Over six years, Smith, a pure first baseman, has logged more innings in left than at first. Notably, left is out of position for Smith, and he suffered injuries each year he was asked to play extended time there.
On that note, the only time he was given a steering job out of Spring Training was 2021. He’d hurt his shoulder and play through it partially because of all of the Mets injuries.
He earned that chance because of a great 2020 pandemic season. That was the only time in his Mets career he was healthy and given a chance to play first. He thrived.
To the apparent shock of the Mets, Smith did not thrive playing out of position or when injured. It’s shocking they didn’t realize this because they only had to go as far back as Lucas Duda to figure that out. This being the Mets, they didn’t.
In 2022, the Mets opted to first go with Robinson Canó then J.D. Davis at DH before trading for Daniel Vogelbach. No, Smith was not given a chance to win that job in-season.
Smith was a DH fewer times than Alonso, who only served that role 27 times all season. Smith was the DH in just eight more games than Mark Vientos. Vientos was a short side platoon DH called up on September 11.
Barely getting more reps at a position than a part time player called up with less than a month remaining in the season is proof positive he wasn’t given a shot to win the job.
There are obvious and fair criticisms of Smith in 2022. He didn’t hit a homer in the majors all year. He didn’t hit much at all. Then again, his playing time was very sporadic.
Still, when you don’t produce, you’re going to be benched. Moreover, when the Mets were in need for pitching, they needed to send Smith down.
What’s truly bizarre is we never saw Smith in September. That was even with him hitting, and the Mets needing offense, offense the rookies were not providing. For Smith’s Mets tenure, it was par for the course.
Now, Smith is going to be free to sign with a team willing to play him at first. He’s going to get to show when playing first he can be that guy he was in 2020. Conversely, he also gets the chance to prove he’s not that guy.
Put another way, Smith is finally going to get his chance. Here’s hoping he takes full advantage and produces like we know he can.
Collusion has been a very real thing in baseball history. That was no more apparent than when Andre Dawson signed a blank contract with the Chicago Cubs because no one would offer him a contract.
Ultimately, the Hall of Famer Bud Selig collusion efforts led to MLB paying $102.5 million to the player’s union. We’ve subsequently seen evidence of collusion, but the matter has not been subsequently taken to arbitration.
That brings us to the right now with Aaron Judge’s free agency.
As reported by The Athletic, MLB is requesting records between the New York Mets and New York Yankees regarding Judge. Specifically, they want communications between Steve Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner.
This goes back to a report saying how both teams “enjoy a mutually respectful relationship, and do not expect to upend that with a high-profile bidding war.” If you’ve been around New York baseball since free agency began, you knew this was going to be the case.
Typically speaking, the Mets and Yankees don’t pursue each other’s free agent players. That goes double for the higher profile players. Really, when you think about it, the Mets and Yankees never get into a bidding war over a player.
That’s not to say players don’t switch teams. We know Curtis Granderson signed with the Mets after four years in the Bronx. Pedro Feliciano signed with the Yankees after his second stint with the Mets.
What was notable about both players is their tenures with their previous team ended. To put it another way, the franchise was not pursuing their own player in free agency.
That may also explain the respective franchises historical obsession with their respective high profile players towards the end of their careers.
We’ve seen the Yankees sign players like Carlos Beltrán, Dwight Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry. The Mets made trades made trades to obtain El Duque and Robinson Canó in addition to signing players like Willie Randolph.
This just doesn’t happen when these players initially hit free agency and their team wants to keep that player. Certainly, a large part of that was the Wilpons unwillingness (followed by their inability) to spend.
As we look to this offseason, both Judge and Jacob deGrom are free agents. These are franchise defining players. They are future Hall of Famers whose numbers will be retired by their respective teams.
They also solve problems for both teams. It’s just going to come at exorbitant salaries. Even with the money both teams have, they likely will not be able to sign both.
That’s part of the reason there is a détente between these franchises.
These two teams could be running up the cost on the respective players. Eventually, one is going to be signed by someone. That doesn’t mean the other will get signed.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument, the Mets sign Judge. Let’s also assume, this puts them out of the deGrom market.
We’ve heard rumors deGrom is looking for money similar to Max Scherzer. Let’s say the Mets were in that neighborhood before signing Judge and breaking off negotiations.
It’s entirely possible the Yankees were never going to that point. That leaves them out on deGrom, and we’ve already heard other teams balking at what deGrom wants. In the end, this means deGrom eventually signs for less than what he would’ve had this détente not existed.
The simple fact is this détente is necessary for the franchises and players. It’s not driving down player salaries. It’s keeping them all high. It’s allowing Judge and deGrom get the highest possible contract they could receive.
Both the Mets and Yankees now they have an uneasy relationship. They’re rivals who share a city, but they need one another. They’re allies when it comes to revenue sharing and the CBT, and they both know they both do better financially when both teams are thriving.
So, the Mets and Yankees have this unwritten détente which has served New York baseball well for 30+ years. We will now soon find out if this unwritten détente is also unspoken.
The Philadelphia Phillies won Game 1 of the NLCS against the San Diego Padres. They’re now three games away from the World Series.
This is as unexpected a run as you could imagine. First and foremost, one year ago, the Phillies would not be in the postseason. However, with the expansion of the postseason under the new CBA, the Phillies made it, and they’ve made the most of their opportunity.
They also took full advantage of the opportunities presented to them by Brodie Van Wagenen’s ineptitude.
When Van Wagenen was hired by the Mets, Bryce Harper was hitting free agency. Due to a multitude of factors, his market wasn’t as bullish as it nearly should’ve been.
Harper was always complimentary of the Mets pitching staff. He was a player who wanted a large market, and he liked what the Mets had. He could have been a missing piece which took them to another level.
Instead, Van Wagenen opted to trade for his former client Robinson Canó. He fulfilled his client’s wishes and brought him back to New York.
Cano came with a $24 million AAV. For the Mets, that was $20.25 million. Harper signed with the Phillies for a $25 million AAV. In terms of overall AAV, Harper was only making one million more per season.
Now, Harper wasn’t a guarantee for the Mets, especially with the Wilpons. However, this illustrates how the Mets opted to allocate their money.
Cano had a second PED suspension last year while Harper was the NL MVP. This year, Harper was an all-star while Cano was playing his way out of the league. Harper homered in Game 1 of the NLCS giving Zack Wheeler all the run support he needed.
Wheeler was very good with the Mets in his final few seasons. He was poised to be the steal of the 2019-2020 offseason. Of course, Van Wagenen thought differently.
He thought Wheeler only had two good halves with the Mets. His player valuation model which said to get Cano determined Wheeler was going to be overpaid.
Somehow, instead, Van Wagenen thought the Mets were better off with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. He was completely alone in that line of thinking.
Wheeler turned down more lucrative offers to stay local. He wanted to be a Met. He settled on the Phillies at a discount. The Mets just walked away from Wheeler to purposefully get worse.
Since that time, Wheeler was a Cy Young runner up last season, and he was in the top 12 a year before that. He was a first time all-star.
He also won Game 1 of the NLCS pitching seven shutout innings. He has a 1.40 ERA this postseason. He’s doing it all for the Phillies because Van Wagenen didn’t want him.
Harper and Wheeler led the Phillies to the postseason, and they led them to a Game 1 victory. Both are Phillies because Van Wagenen didn’t want them. That goes double for Wheeler
The Mets loss is the Phillies gain. The good news is the Mets have Steve Cohen now instead of the Wilpons and Van Wagenen. This situation will not happen again, and even if it were to happen, the Mets would have a lot more than Porcello and Wacha to show for it.
Last offseason, the New York Mets sought to hire a President of Baseball Operations. Unfortunately, they struck out for a consecutive year.
This had them shift their focus to GM. Eventually, they landed on Billy Eppler, who seemed more consolation prize than getting who they wanted.
The who, what, where, when, and why doesn’t matter. Eppler had the job. With that job came opportunity.
Eppler did the job building a team which won 101 games. The owner wanted the big fish in Buck Showalter and Max Scherzer, and Eppler reeled them in.
However, when you don’t win the division, and you’re out in the first round of the postseason, you didn’t do enough. For Eppler, there are a few areas where this definitely applies.
One criticism down the stretch was the Mets waited too long before calling up Francisco Álvarez and Mark Vientos. That may or may not be fair. On that point, it didn’t seem fair to declare them not ready all season only to throw them into a pennant race and demand/need performance.
After the organization tried Robinson Cano and J.D. Davis at DH, they pursued the platoon option at the position by obtaining Daniel Vogelbach. Vogelbach did his part well.
The issue is that trade and not giving the prospects a look earlier forced his hand on Darin Ruf. With Ruf and Tyler Naquin, it was certainly a forgettable trade deadline for the Mets. For his part, Eppler has no remorse:
Billy Eppler does not feel that the Mets' decision to prioritize long-term thinking at the trade deadline impacted their chances to win this season:— SNY (@SNYtv) October 14, 2022
"It's hard to pinpoint what would've been better" pic.twitter.com/vN8DK082Mv
To a certain extent, only he knows whether he could’ve or should’ve done more. What we know is the Naquin and Ruf trades were maligned at the time (the packages, not the players), and the Mets didn’t win.
When a team wins, there is forgiveness on overpaying in trades or missing out on players. That’s the way it is and should be because at the end of the day, it’s about winning in both the short and long term.
Fact is, the Mets didn’t win. With that, Eppler blew his opportunity.
Yes, the Mets announced he was returning as the GM. As Eppler indicated, Steve Cohen wants him to immediately get to work. The Mets need that because there is a lot of work to do on the roster.
That all said, the Mets have said they’re looking to hire a President of Baseball Operations. It’s something they’ve been trying to do since Cohen purchased the team.
With that comes someone working over Eppler. Eppler’s autonomy and control goes away. He now reports to someone who also can recommend firing, retaining, or reassigning him.
At least in theory, if the Mets win the division and World Series, he becomes the POBO. Perhaps, the Mets don’t pursue one. After all, why hire a decision maker over the guy who just built a World Series winning roster?
However, the Mets didn’t win. Both Ruf and Naquin didn’t perform with Naquin being left off the postseason roster. The Mets are pursuing a POBO to whom Eppler will report.
In the end, Eppler blew his opportunity. He will now be second in command, and his power will be at the whim of the POBO and Cohen.
Hopefully, this is the best case for the Mets organization. For Eppler, it’s not the worst case, but it is also not ideal. After all, this is a job he certainly wanted.
The New York Mets made the right decisions calling up Mark Vientos and Francisco Álvarez. When the Mets went out at the trade deadline and obtained Daniel Vogelbach, they needed to find a right-handed platoon option for him. Darin Ruf didn’t work, and then, he hit the IL with an injury.
You can and should argue the Mets should have called either one of their top prospects up sooner. That would have allowed them to grow and develop to be more ready for this moment. However, that’s not what happened leaving the Mets to hope either player could catch lightning in a bottle.
The thing is neither player caught lightning in a bottle. They were also given a couple of different chances to come through in big spots, and both players failed. In no way should that shape our opinion of their futures of Major League players. However, it should make us question if they are truly ready for this moment.
This is unfair, and it is based on far too small a sample size. However, that’s all the Mets have available. What we have to look at right now is Vientos has a 60 wRC+ and 31.4 K% in 35 plate appearances. That puts him far ahead of Álvarez who has no hits and three strike outs in eight Major League plate appearances where he’s looked completely overmatched.
Fortunately, the Mets still have three games remaining in the season where they can give both players a bit of an extended look. Maybe one catches hot, and the team can carry them on the postseason roster. Chances are, neither one will, and the Mets will be left flipping a coin as to which one should be on the postseason roster.
At this point, we should say it does not have to be up to these two prospects. At some point, the Mets need to put Dominic Smith in the mix, and that moment needs to be now. With neither prospect producing, the Mets are out of excuses for leaving Smith off the Major League roster.
Yes, we know he struggled and did not produce in two years. There was the shoulder injury last year. This season, the Mets opted to ice him to try to allow Robinson Cano and J.D. Davis win the job. By the time it came to Smith again, he was hurt and in the minors. He lost a chance he never really received in the first place.
With Syracuse, Smith had a 122 wRC+. September was his best month of the season. In 21 games, he hit .294/.351/.541 with three doubles, six homers, and 18 RBI.
He looked like Smith does when he’s at his best. No, it hasn’t worked in the majors of late. Then again, it hasn’t for Álvarez or Vientos. Of the trio, Smith is the only one who has had success in the majors.
The Mets have three games remaining. Let Smith go head-to-head-to-head with Álvarez and Vientos. Whoever is hitting makes the roster.
The history of the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves is typically a one-sided affair. Worse yet, it’s one which features Mets collapses and heart ache.
There’s Mel Rojas. Kenny Rogers the next year. Brian Jordan. Everything Chipper Jones. Most recently Freddie Freeman.
Most of the horrors were fueled by Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz. Glavine came to the Mets, and the balance of power in the NL East seemed to eventually shift to the Mets. Of course, Glavine melted down in Game 162, and nothing would be the same for that Mets team.
Things re-kindled last year. The Mets were in first place for 103 days. Not only did they eventually cede first place to the eventual World Series champion Braves, but they would also have the indignity of finishing under .500.
Things looked dire again this year. The Mets built a 10.5 game lead. It was 6.5 games after the Mets took four of five in an early August series. The Braves should’ve been left for dead, but they fought back.
It was one thing for the Braves to tie the division. It was another for them to take a half-game lead. The Mets responded by trouncing the Miami Marlins.
They have also gotten some help from the Seattle Mariners. Remember, for all the Braves exploits, they’re only 28-33 against teams with a winning record.
After splitting the first two games of the series, the Braves faced a 6-1 deficit in the eighth before Michael Harris II homered. He’d do it again in an improbable five run ninth giving the Braves a 7-6 lead. The second homer was off former Mets reliever Paul Sewald.
The Mets had already retaken the NL East lead, but this Mariners series could’ve given the Mets some breathing room. The Mets needed a re-payment for the favor of the Robinson Canó trade.
Well, they got it. First, it was a one out game tying homer from Julio Rodriguez off Kenley Jansen. Then, with two outs Eugenio Suarez came up to the plate:
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Not from the Mets perspective.
Put the 1969 NLCS aside. That was another time in another era of baseball.
The Wild Card and Inter-league play came and so did the Braves tormenting the Mets. Yes, the Mets won two pennants and two division titles. The made the postseason five times.
However, when it came down to just these two teams, the Braves were always on top. The Mets never won a division where the Braves finished second. When they met in the postseason, the Braves came out on top.
That’s what makes the Suarez homer a game changer. In the history of Mets-Braves, the Braves win that game, stay a half game back (tied in the loss column), and they eventually overtake the Mets.
Suarez homered. That is changing the narrative. It moved the Mets up 1.5 games. It’s a little breathing room.
If the Mets do indeed win the division this was one of a series of pivotal moments. It may be THE moment. If so, the Mets owe the Mariners and Suarez a debt of gratitude.
It may be a bit unfair to Edwin Diaz, but back in 2019, the pressure could not have been higher. Keep in mind, he plays a position that is among the most pressure filled in all of pro sports.
There were high expectations based upon what he did with the Seattle Mariners. In some ways, it was on his shoulders to try to justify the dumb and ill-received trade to acquire him and Robinson Cano.
As we all know, Diaz faltered. It was easily the worst season of his career. The common refrain from that season from fans was Diaz could not handle New York. The corollary to this was never would’ve been able to do it here.
It’s been a crutch for New York fans. The common explanation as to why players thrive elsewhere is they can’t handle New York. It’s a convenient catch-all, which helps overlook the real reason why players failed.
Justin Turner didn’t thrive in Los Angeles because he continued the launch angle approach taught to him by Marlon Byrd. No, he couldn’t handle New York.
Jason Bay wasn’t an outfielder dealing with absurd outfield walls and concussions. No, he couldn’t handle New York.
Travis d’Arnaud wasn’t an injury prone catcher at a time Jeff Wilpon was meddling with medical decisions. No, he just couldn’t handle New York (also apparently, 2015 never happened).
There are countless examples through Mets history. All of those examples and the narrative is being proven absurd this season.
The funny thing is Diaz admitted he struggled with New York. In many ways, he was the epitome of can’t handle New York. In reality, he needs to adjust.
Diaz is not unique in this respect. Players struggle coming to new teams sometimes. For some reason, that does seem to apply to the Mets more than others.
Carlos Beltran needed a full season to get comfortable and return to his Hall of Fame form. It appears Francisco Lindor is going through the same transformation.
For that matter, Curtis Granderson struggled when he first came to the Mets. Keep on mind, Granderson played the previous four seasons with the New York Yankees.
That brings us back to Diaz. Yes, he struggled with New York. However, he mostly struggled with his mechanics. Back in 2019, the Mets just couldn’t get that right.
Jeremy Hefner was hired as pitching coach, he’s been vital for Diaz. He’s gotten his mechanics right, and now, Diaz is having a great season.
It’s at the point where Mets fans love him and await his entrance into games. Narco and the trumpets are a major feature at Mets games. It’s now at the point where the Mets have invited Timmy Trumpet to games.
That’s not bad for someone who can’t do it in New York. It’s almost as if that narrative was always a poor excuse, and Diaz proved it was nonsense all along.
The previous few seasons, the New York Mets had Gary Disarcina as their third base coach. Compared to him, anyone would look terrific.
However, that does not mean Joey Cora has been great or even good. Remember, this is the same guy the last place and perennially rebuilding Pittsburgh Pirates fired.
The reason the Pirates fired him was because he was literally the worst third base coach in the game. Things started off very rocky with the Mets.
He had very bad sends of Pete Alonso, Robinson Canó (remember having to deal with that mess), and Eduardo Escobar. Things got better over the ensuing months, but Cora has looked like the Cora of old of late.
There was Luis Guillorme against the Atlanta Braves. There was the Starling Marte send against the Philadelphia Phillies. Brett Baty against the New York Yankees. It just keeps getting worse.
Cora did it again against the Colorado Rockies. With one out, Mark Canha doubled, and Jeff McNeil was trying to score from first. There’s a number of issues on the play.
Per Baseball Savant, McNeil has slightly below average speed. He also hesitated slightly around second.
It was a perfect carom to the center fielder who threw a strike to the cut-off man. The throw by cut-off man was strong but pulling the catcher towards first.
Now, the narrative usually is it took a perfect throw. The thing is it wasn’t perfect. It was string, but it wasn’t perfect at all. Still, it beat McNeil by a good margin. Here’s the photo:
McNeil didn’t really have a chance. Even if you want to blame him for the hesitation, that’s still on Cora because he sent him. McNeil tried, but he was still out by a good margin.
If this were an isolated instance, you shrug it off. However, these sends are starting to pile up. The hope is it stops here because if it doesn’t Cora may cost the Mets a postseason game.