The 2020 season only confirmed J.D. Davis isn’t an everyday player because he can’t field at all. With that being the case, the Mets need to find a new third baseman this offseason.
The first option could be Jeff McNeil, who was actually the Opening Day third baseman the past two years. The issue with him is despite his arm. His throws were erratic, which gives you pause before giving him the third base job.
With their being questions about whether Robinson Cano would be willing or able to move to third, that leaves the Mets looking outside the organization for a third base option.
There may be options on the trade market like Nolan Arenado, but with Brodie Van Wagenen needlessly stripping the farm of its best players, that’s much easier said than done. That probably leaves the free agent market where one name stands out above the rest.
We all know the idiocy and cheapness which led to Turner being non-tendered by the Mets. With the Wilpons gone, Steve Cohen can look to right this wrong and bring Turner back to Queens. As we saw last night, Turner can still play.
Turner with a big play! pic.twitter.com/mG2JCSYUgv
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) October 21, 2020
In 2020, Turner had a poor -2 OAA rating. However, in the preceding year, he was a very good 4 OAA. Looking at his OAA on the whole, he’s been alternating good and bad seasons.
DRS paints a slightly different picture. From 2014 – 2018, Turner was a very good defensive third baseman. However, in the past two years there has been a drop off with him posting consecutive negative DRS seasons.
Taking the bigger picture, we see a player still capable of handling the position.
At the plate, Turner is still a very good hitter with a 140 wRC+. That’s an improvement over his 132 in 2019. Looking at his Baseball Savant stats, Turner posted very good to elite numbers in barrels, hard hit rates, and whiff percentage.
Overall, even at 35, Turner has remained a very good baseball player.
That’s somewhat of a problem. He’s 35, and he will soon turn 36 after the World Series. While his stats over the past few years indicate he could be a good bet in 2021, time and again, we have seen players in their late 30s lose it overnight.
With Turner, we may also see a player who may want to retire or just stay close to home. That would certainly be understandable. However, if he’s truly available and willing to return, the Mets should pounce.
Turner is in the unique position of entering the clubhouse as a guy who dealt with the ups and downs of New York. On that note, he can certainly help the young Mets core along the way.
Another thing Turner presents is he’s coming from the Dodgers. Fact is, the Dodgers do things better than everyone, maybe even the Rays. Turner knows exactly what the Mets don’t know.
Remember the Mets aren’t just trying to win the 2021 World Series. No, they’re going through with a complete organization overhaul. They’re trying to build a team who can compete each and every year just like the Dodgers.
The Dodgers just don’t have the most talent on the field or the deepest pockets. They also have access to the best analytics and technology. They know things no one knows.
With Turner being there from the beginning of this Dodgers regime, he also knows all of the information disseminated to players. He knows what’s worked, what hasn’t, and the best way to communicate the information to players.
No, he doesn’t know how the information was tabulated and analyzed. However, he knows it exists, and knowing the information exists really helps your organization seek it out. After all, you can’t look for something without knowing that something exists.
In the end, Turner on a short term deal solves the Mets 2021 third base issues. More than that, he helps your organization in their process of an analytical overhaul. All told, from a Mets perspective, Turner could be the most important free agent available on the market. As such, they should very seriously consider bringing him back to Queens.
Right now, the Mets two starters are Jacob deGrom and David Peterson. With Peterson, the Mets have a promising pitcher who is a sinkerball pitcher. In terms of Peterson, the question is what do you do to help him take the next step forward in his career.
Rosario continued to make strong steps forward defensively, and he was a good defender, but he was not on Gimenez’s level. Rosario was a -3 DRS and 2 OAA to Gimenez’s 1 DRS and 5 OAA. At a 5 OAA, Gimenez was actually tied for the second best defensive SS in the game.
At second, Robinson Cano rebounded defensively with a 3 OAA. On that note, Cano was better moving to his left. That’s an important consideration for an aging player who probably needs to move off of second.
It’s not about ability per se, but rather durability. He’s going to be 38 next year, and he’s broken down a bit in each of the last few years while playing second. A switch to a less demanding position like third should help him extend his career.
It also solves a real issue for the Mets as third base is a huge problem. Jeff McNeil was supposed to play third, but he had throwing issues not too dissimilar from what we once saw with Wilmer Flores. That led the Mets to move McNeil off the position and replace him with J.D. Davis.
Davis was a disaster at third. He had a -8 DRS, which is he had enough innings to qualify, would’ve had him as the worst in the position in the majors. His -3 OAA was also the worst in the majors at the position.
By moving Cano to third, you finally take away Davis’ glove (which needs to happen anyway), and second is re-opened for McNeil. At second, McNeil has been a good defender with a career 4 OAA and 1 DRS.
By going with an infield of McNeil, Cano, and Gimenez, they have made it a significantly improved defensive infield. In fact, you can argue it’s a very good one at that.
As an aside, Nolan Arenado is purportedly on the trade bloc, and the Mets have a logjam at first with Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. Putting Arenado alongside Gimenez would possibly even surpass Robin Ventura and Rey Ordonez.
While Arenado may be considered a pipe dream, that’s the direction the Mets should be angling. That’s not just because of Steve Cohen’s deep pockets. Rather, it’s because the Mets should be maximizing their defense.
Part of that will include moving on from Wilson Ramos. Ramos is a catcher of a different era. That’s not his fault, but rather one of Brodie Van Wagenen’s front office. Moving on from Ramos to another catcher better at framing, whether that be J.T. Realmuto, James McCann, or someone else entirely, the Mets will be much better poised defensively.
They will also be better poised to handle a pitch to contact sinkerball staff. That will help Peterson succeed in his second season.
This will also help Stroman, who for reasons previously detailed, should be the Mets priority right now. The question is who should then round out the Mets rotation with Noah Syndergaard rehabbing from Tommy John.
There is an argument to be made for Rick Porcello to return on another one year deal. Certainly, Porcello will be driven to have a better 2021 after his 2020 was terrible. It’s quite possible he wants that chance to return to the Mets, a team he grew up loving, and prove to them he’s a pitcher who can help them win.
Now, Porcello’s stats were a very mixed bag last year. His ERA+ was a career worst 75. He let up an inordinate amount of barrels last year too.
Behind that was a 3.33 FIP, which is quite good. Porcello was also above average in terms of hard hit percentage, and he posted very good exit velocity rates.
You could argue with a vastly superior infield defense Porcello could very well be a good stopgap for Syndergaard and/or insurance for a Peterson sophomore slump. In the end, if the Mets are moving in the direction of a pitch to contact staff, they should really lean into it and make their team the best suited they can to head into that direction.
As we’ve seen in years like 1999 and 2006 building a superior infield defense can help your team overcome pitching deficiencies. It can help ground ball pitchers be reliable, post strong numbers, and pitch deep into games.
For the Mets, there are many directions they can head towards with a new owner and front office. Given the presence of Peterson and what’s available on the free agent market, this is a direction the Mets should seriously consider pursuing.
As the season wound to a close, there was much talk about how the Mets were too talented for this season to have unfolded the way it did. Certainly, some players struggled, but in the end, the Mets missing even an expanded postseason should not have shocked anyone.
Things changed dramatically for the Mets the day Noah Syndergaard had to shut it down due to Tommy John surgery. It was at that point the Mets went from possible postseason contender to a team who was likely going to miss the postseason.
Syndergaard presented, along with Jacob deGrom, two top of the rotation, swing and miss pitchers. The Mets desperately needed this as this was a team with far too many pitchers who pitched to contact in front of a terrible defensive team.
In 2019, the Mets were last in the National League with an 86 DRS. Despite planning on going into 2020 with Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello, two pitchers who pitch to a high rate of contact, the Mets affirmatively opted not to improve their defense. In actuality, they probably made t worse.
Remember, the plan was to always have two first basemen in the field with Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis. Based on what we saw of Robinson Cano in 2019, you could’ve argued, the Mets were really putting three first basemen in the field. That’s beyond ill advised.
An important thing to remember here was not only were the Mets playing three first basemen, they were playing three poor ones at that, at least in terms of their respective positions.
By OAA, Alonso was the worst defensive first baseman in the NL last year. Davis was the 26th ranked LF with the second worst success rate. Cano was also ranked 26th.
The good news is Cano rebounded by OAA but not DRS. Past him, well, it was a complete disaster.
Davis didn’t last long in LF because he was even worse, which you could not imagine to be possible. He then moved to third where he was again an unmitigated disaster. That was a precipitous drop from the good, albeit declining defense, provided from Todd Frazier last year.
Alonso too regressed leading him to lose his everyday job at first. Instead, he split time with Dominic Smith at the position. When Dom wasn’t at first, he was in left. That meant the Mets had FOUR first basemen in the field.
You can’t win games that way.
What makes this even worse is the Mets didn’t really surround these players with plus defenders to offset the terrible defense.
Brandon Nimmo isn’t a center fielder. That was again proven by his -4 OAA and -5 DRS. Wilson Ramos was just about the worst catcher there was in baseball behind the plate. His framing numbers were poor, his ability to block the ball worse, and his ability to tag out runners nonexistent.
Essentially, that made the pitchers mound look more like a tiny island with a bunch of people around him just letting him drown.
Really, when you look at the Mets, the only position they had good defense was short with Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario providing very good defense there. Other than that this was a terrible defensive ballclub with the fourth worst DRS in all of baseball.
The sad thing is it didn’t have to be this way. There were very good defenders on this roster who earned playing time. Case in point was Luis Guillorme. He had a very good defensive season with a 1 OAA and DRS, and he posted a 144 wRC+ at the plate. Playing him up the middle with Gimenez or Rosario could’ve had a profound impact on this suspect pitching staff.
On that note, Porcello struggled with terrible defense behind him. Stroman opting out certainly hurt, but he also might’ve struggled in front of a flat out terrible defensive team.
Truth be told, the only way this team could’ve competed was by having a starting staff of swing and miss pitchers who induced soft contact. Unfortunately, Syndergaard was injured, and the Mets didn’t want Zack Wheeler. Once the latter two were gone so were the Mets chances.
In the end, Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon treated the Mets like they were a fantasy team. With the Mets having an MLB best team 122 wRC+, they probably won their fantasy league.
However, on the field, where things like defense and base running matter, they built a flawed and arguably bad baseball team. Certainly, this was not a team truly built to compete, and in the end the Mets didn’t.
That’s why Van Wagenen will be gone and why Steve Cohen has zero interest in keeping Jeff Wilpon around in any decision making capacity when the sale is officially ratified by MLB.
Overall, the 2020 New York Mets didn’t underachieve. No, this team did EXACTLY what they were built to do. That was have deGrom be great, the offense hit, and get horrendous defense and suspect starting pitching.
Much of the reason why the 2020 Mets are going to miss the postseason is Pete Alonso having a sophomore slump. In fact, it’s been worse than anyone could’ve imagined.
Entering last night’s game, he was teetering at the Mendoza Line, and he was at a -0.7 WAR. During this time, he went from fan proclaimed future captain to people worrying if he could ever return to his 2019 Rookie of the Year record setting form. Last night, we saw a hint he could return to that form.
The key to that was in the fourth when he hit an opposite field home run off of Blake Snell to give the Mets a 2-1 lead:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 23, 2020
We haven’t seen much of Alonso driving the ball the other way like he did much of last year. Harkening back to last year, he drove the ball with authority to all fields. That was the essence of his power and production.
Now, the home run numbers have essentially been there with all of Alonso’s struggles. After all, he was 13 homers so far this year which is a near 40 homer pace. With respect to Alonso, the singles and doubles haven’t been.
One did last night when Alonso singled home Dominic Smith to increase the Mets lead to 3-1. Coupled with an RBI groundout in the eighth, he had three RBI on the night. More impressively, he drove in a run in three separate plate appearances.
This was the player Alonso was last year. This is what the Mets need from Alonso the rest of the way this year and in each of the ensuing years. Seeing him do it last night begs the question why he hasn’t previously done it. Alonso has a theory:
Pete Alonso cites his .215 BABIP and 88.5-mph average exit velocity as evidence that he's been more unlucky than anything this season: pic.twitter.com/F1EZ3X6Ijk
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 23, 2020
Alonso definitely has a point. He’s still hitting the ball hard, and his BABIP does indicate an extraordinary amount of bad luck. That’s part of what happens with this 60 game season.
Your failures are magnified. The stats are skewed in polar opposite directions. You didn’t have the normal ebb and flow of a season of sufficient time to ramp up for the reboot.
There’s also the small matter of the 2019 juiced ball which seems to be gone. That could be part of the reason why we see Alonso’s hard hit percentage and barrel rates drop quite a bit with his whiff percentage trending in the wrong direction.
Overall, this has been a rough year for us all, Alonso included. He has five more games to continue to try to remind us why he was great last year and can be in the future. If he goes on the type of tear we know he can, maybe, just maybe, the Mets can win out and shock us all.
Game Notes: Robinson Cano and Guillermo Heredia also homered. Seth Lugo picked up the win after allowed two runs (one earned) off four hits and one walk over 6.1 innings while striking out seven. Edwin Diaz picked up the save and now has more saves than blown saves this year.
According to reports, Steve Cohen is bringing Sandy Anderson back to the Mets as an advisor, and he is planning on finding a replacement for Brodie Van Wagenen. Both are excellent and needed decisions.
When it comes to Van Wagenen, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much damage he has done to the well built and talented Mets organization gift wrapped to him from Alderson. Essentially, all that Alderson built needs to be rebuilt.
Van Wagenen was given a starting staff comprised of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz. Behind them were well regarded prospects in Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson.
The Mets rotation over the final week of the 2020 season will be deGrom, Rick Porcello, maybe Matz, and who knows what else?
The position player core was remarkably cheap and talented. There was Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and Amed Rosario. Behind them was Andres Gimenez and Jarred Kelenic.
Sure, there were some bad contracts, but they were short term in nature, and they were not going to serve as an impediment to either building on or retaining this core.
For example, the Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes contacts were set to expire after this season. That coincided perfectly with having to have the money to re-sign deGrom and to have extension talks with Conforto, Matz, and Syndergaard.
Instead, the Mets no longer have Kelenic giving them a buffet against losing one of Conforto or Nimmo. They also have Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract on the books which already served as an impediment to re-signing Wheeler.
That’s nothing to say of the quality prospect purge in the same of finding a late inning defensive replacement in center for a team who already had Juan Lagares and adding J.D. Davis to a team already overstocked in 1B/DH players.
Couple this with the Mets getting rid of Wilmer Flores for nothing only for him to be more productive than anyone Van Wagenen brought into the organization and signing Jed Lowrie for $20 million to get eight pinch hitting attempts, and the Van Wagenen stint as GM has been an unmitigated disaster.
If you want to point to Van Wagenen’s drafts as a positive, you should. However, in doing that, remember, that was a scouting group built by Alderson and Omar Minaya. The Mets will be keeping both advisors.
When you take everything into account, Alderson built the Mets to be a competitive team in 2019 and 2020. With any luck, he had a deep farm system to make the types of trades he made in 2015 to help get the team over the top.
The real window for this Mets team was supposed to open in 2021. Given the talent on the Major League roster and in the farm system, it promised to be a 1980s like run.
Instead, Alderson is back to figure out how yo fix this mess. Fortunately for him, he won’t have Van Wagenen or Jeff Wilpon standing in his way. Instead, he will have an owner with deep pockets who intends to let smart baseball people like Alderson do their jobs.
If the Mets want a chance at the postseason, they may not be able to lose even one game. For that to happen, they’re going to need some unexpected great pitching performances.
They got that last night out of the rookie David Peterson.
Peterson would join Jerry Koosman, Pete Schourek, and Hisanori Takahashi as the only left-handed Mets rookies to strike out 10 in a game. Overall, he allowed just one run over six on three hits and four walks.
To put into perspective how well he pitched, Freddie Freeman was 0-for-5 with the golden sombrero and a GIDP. This is the same Freeman who routinely kills the Mets and is a front runner for the NL MVP.
He’d pick up the win because the Mets offense scored just enough early and blew it out late.
Offensively speaking, Robinson Cano drove the Mets to victory.
In the first, Braves starter Ian Anderson was wild walking the bases loaded. Cano delivered the rare Mets big hit with RISP with a two RBI single.
It was 3-2 entering the bottom of the eighth after a Travis d’Arnaud homer in the top of the inning. Any flashbacks to the 1998 and 1999 Mets subsided when Dominic Smith and Cano went back-to-back to expand the Mets lead to 5-2.
That rally would continue with Brandon Nimmo, who is getting insanely hot of late, hitting a two RBI single. That pushed the score to 7-2.
In the end, the Mets chances of pulling this off aren’t very good. Not in the least. However, the bright side is on a night like this, we might’ve found out something about Peterson. There’s a lot more to his career, but this big start in a huge spot is the type of game which can springboard a career.
Game Notes: Robinson Chirinos hit an RBI double in the fourth
For a second straight game, a Mets starter didn’t see the third inning, and for the second straight game, the Mets made an improbable comeback.
At least for tonight, Harper owned Lugo homering off of him again in the second inning. Gregorius then knocked out Lugo with an RBI single.
It was 6-3 Phillies, and it was in the hands of the Mets bullpen. Starting with Erasmo Ramirez, they were brilliant. He and Chasen Shreve would each pitch 2.1 scoreless before handing the ball to Jeurys Familia who pitched 1.1 scoreless.
Their pitching kept the Mets in the game, and it gave them a chance to comeback against what has been a terrible Phillies bullpen.
While the Mets weren’t able to put up more runs off Aaron Nola from the second through fifth, they made him work. He ran out of gas in the sixth, and that Mets took advantage starting with a Pete Alonso one out homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2020
Jeff McNeil walked leading to the Phillies going to their bullpen. Andres Gimenez walked, and after Luis Guillorme lined out, it was up to Brandon Nimmo. He tied the score on what is arguably the biggest hit of his career . . . up until that point.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2020
Instead, Wilson walked the bases loaded. Due to the three batter rule, the Mets couldn’t even contemplate lifting him. Fortunately for the Mets, Wilson retired Gregorius to end the inning.
After escalating the jam, it was time for Nimmo to come up huge again. This time, it was a go-ahead homer with a rare pimping of the homer from Nimmo:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2020
That ninth inning leadoff homer off Brandon Workman sparked the Mets offense like Alonso’s did in the sixth. It was a four run ninth with Smith tripling in Michael Conforto, and Cano hitting a two run homer.
While not a save situation, the Mets went to Edwin Diaz. Diaz would make it interesting by loading the bases and bringing the tying run to the plate. Diaz, who was pitching three days in a row, got McCutheon to ground out to end the game.
With that, the Mets have won a series against a team other than the Marlins this year. They’re alive and ready to fight another day as the schedule gets insanely difficult now.
Game Notes: Wilson earned the win.
Like you and me, Rick Porcello grew up loving the Mets. Unlike you and me, he was not only talented enough to make it to the majors, but he was also able to win a World Series and a Cy Young.
Due to that pedigree, there were teams still interested in him when he became a free agent despite his having the worst ERA in baseball last year. Having his first real chance at free agency in his career, he decided to turn down better offers to fulfill his childhood dream of pitching for the New York Mets.
Porcello was getting his chance to realize his dream. Unfortunately, it’s been a nightmare for him.
Through nine starts, he’s 1-4 with a 6.07 ERA. He’s given up the most hits and earned runs in the league. Opposing batters are hitting .318/.356/.436 off of him. He’s only averaging 4.2 innings per start.
Now, the Mets haven’t done him many favors. For example, given how Porcello is your classic pitch to contact sinkerball pitcher, you need to optimize your defense with him on the mound.
When he had Luis Guillorme and Andres Gimenez up the middle in his August 5 start, he was terrific allowing one run over seven. It was the same alignment up the middle for his August 16 start when he allowed four over six against the Phillies.
We’ve also seen him struggle without that strong up the middle combination. For example, last night, Robinson Cano was at second for his poor start where he allowed five earned over four. In his first Mets start, he allowed seven runs (six earned) with Cano and Amed Rosario up the middle against the Braves.
It must be so frustrating to have success and return to the form where you were considered a bona fide middle to front end starter to getting your brains beaten in with a lackluster defense behind you.
It has to be worse when this is happening to you when this was your dream. Perhaps more than any pitcher in this Mets rotation, he wanted to win a World Series and celebrate with the fans. After all, he’s one of us.
Sadly, he’s not well respected by his fellow Mets fans. They see his putting up similarly poor numbers than he did last year. In some ways, he’s become a poster boy for Brodie Van Wagenen’s dismantling of this once great Mets rotation.
After all, Porcello got a chunk of the money that didn’t go to Zack Wheeler. Wheeler has been great in Philadelphia whereas Porcello hasn’t been so much in New York.
As a fan, if we were allowed in the park, we’d boo him mercilessly. His performance has warranted it even though he’s not always been put in a position to succeed.
Overall, you’re allowed to be frustrated with him. If we were at the park, you’d be well within your right to boo him. Still, we should all realize this has to be painful for Porcello.
Porcello wanted to be a New York Met more than anything. His dreams are becoming nightmares. Certainly, we can identify with that, and because of that, we should have some sympathy for him.
And obviously, we hope his last few starts for the Mets are great, and he still gets that opportunity to win a World Series with the New York Mets.
The second place Philadelphia Phillies are red hot. With their win tonight against the New York Mets, they’ve now won 10 out of their last 11.
Tonight, the former Cy Young winners, Rick Porcello and Jake Arrieta, who aren’t that anymore, pitched well and to a 2-2 stalemate through six. The Mets two runs coming off an opposite field two run homer by Michael Conforto.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 5, 2020
But the Mets couldn’t pull out the win because the Phillies are a better. You see they go to the top of the free agent market, and they use their top prospects to get players who merit it. They built real rotation depth, and they also kept prospects in reserve to address their bullpen issues.
The Mets go searching for discounts. They throw away prospects needlessly. They never address the bullpen by trade.
This left Jared Hughes in a bad spot. He’s just not a two inning reliever. He shouldn’t be going 40+ pitches. In his career, batters have a .900 OPS against him.
After allowing a run in the seventh, he stayed in for the eighth. He ran out of gas allowing two more runs putting the Mets down 5-2.
The Mets had their chance in the eighth. Dominic Smith hit an RBI single to pull the Mets to within 5-3. There were runners on first and second with one out.
Meanwhile, new Phillies closer, Brandon Workman, recently obtained from the Red Sox, earned the save for the Phillies. Instead of being dismayed by this, just remember Steve Cohen is buying the team, and he can hire a good GM to turn things around.
Not even Jacob deGrom would stem the losing streak. Not even in the day time against the Marlins with a lead.
After that, the Mets again forgot how to hit in RISP going 2-for-10 in the game. However, you would’ve thought that wouldn’t matter. After all, deGrom was on the mound.
Well, the near impossible happened. He would have a near Steven Matz moment in the sixth.
Garrett Cooper led off the inning with a homer. Then, Pete Alonso couldn’t field a somewhat tough hop allowing Matt Joyce to reach. That’s usually when deGrom bears down, but he just didn’t seem to have it in this inning.
He was up 1-2 on Lewin Diaz who then hit an RBI double. deGrom was up 0-2 on Miguel Rojas, who then hit a go-ahead RBI single. He was then up 1-2 on Jorge Alfaro, who hit an RBI to put the Marlins up 4-2.
The odd part was deGrom was his normal self over the first five innings, and he struck out nine. Of the four runs he allowed, only one was earned. Still, you have some to expect much more from deGrom.
The Mets didn’t get him off the hook. Robinson Cano homered in the bottom of the sixth to pull the Mets to within 4-3. The Marlins got that run back when Brian Anderson homered off Brad Brach in the eighth.
This 5-3 loss was yet another bad loss for this team. The Mets can fool themselves they’re still in the race, but nothing we have seen recently suggests they’ll stay in it.
Game Notes: deGrom became the first pitcher to face an opponent four times in a row since Freddie Fitzsimmons did it in 1929.