With Todd Zeile taking over in the booth while Ron Darling battles thyroid cancer, it is interesting to consider how the Mets have come to claim Zeile. He played 16 years and for 11 franchises, and he played with the Cardinals more than he played for the Mets. What is also interesting with Zeile is his 11 franchises is not a Major League record. That ties him just for sixth all time. Can you name the five players who have played for more? Good luck!
For all the talk about every game counts, Jason Vargas entered the season as the unchallenged fifth starter. Somehow, he’s failed to clear the subterranean bar set for him this season with tonight being his worst performance.
Vargas lasted just one-third of an inning allowing four earned on two hits and three walks. Now, you may want to say two of those runs were scored after he left the game, but that would be wrong considering he needed 36 pitches to get just one out.
This put the game in Corey Oswalt‘s hands to salvage.
While Oswalt did get out of the inning, the Braves got to him as well scoring four runs off him in the second. To be fair to Oswalt, just like all of last year, the Mets once again put him in a position to fail.
Oswalt was called up earlier in the week to be prepared to make a relief appearance on just three days rest. Then, after the team didn’t pitch him, they had him trying to stay sharp on what was now extended rest. Finally, they asked a starter to hurry up and loosen up to enter a game with runners in scoring position. This is not how you handle or develop pitchers.
Partially because of the Mets being stubborn and plain stupid in trusting Vargas as the fifth starter and partially due to their mishandling of Oswalt, they’d lost what was a winnable game.
Travis d’Arnaud got the rally started with his first hit since coming off the IL. He and Keon Broxton would score on a Juan Lagares RBI double. Oswalt would help himself and tie the score with a sacrifice fly.
After the aforementioned bad top of the third for Oswalt, the Mets were chasing the Braves all night. The key difference between the Mets and Braves was while the Mets messed around with Oswalt, the Braves had Touki Touissaint. Touissaint was very good for the Braves stabilizing the game and saving their bullpen.
This meant even though Chad Sabodka was shaky in the final two innings, the Braves still had plenty of cushion in what would become an 11-7 Braves.
As if this were not enough, Ron Darling announced he needs to take a leave of absence to have surgery to remove a mass in his chest. More than anything that happened on the field, this was the absolute worst development of the day. Thoughts and prayers go to Darling for a speedy recovery.
After the Mets swept the Marlins, they’re now 5-1 and in first place as they come home for their home opener. Here’s the 20/20 observations from the last series:
- When Pedro Martinez compared Jacob deGrom to himself, you got the perfect comparison to just how dominant deGrom is right now. Although we can be sure the Dodger loving Wilpons think Sandy Koufax (either way you take it).
- With deGrom pitching great with Wilson Ramos on Opening Day and Tomas Nido yesterday, we’re seeing giving any credit to Devin Mesoraco was nonsense. Moreover, we’re seeing how better catchers help produce better results.
- In addition to their producing well on the field so far, it’s great to see Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith cheering for one another. Since late last year, and perhaps before that, they were adversaries as far as the future of first base was concerned. They rose above it to show they’re better people than they are players.
- While we believe Juan Lagares‘ extension was a mistake, there’s no doubt he impacts the game when he’s on the field. In the series, we saw him hit a game tying homer, and with his hustle, he reached base even on outs. He’s already at a 1 DRS, and he’s flashing his arm again. He’s potentially a difference maker.
- When the Mets traded Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana, they paid a hefty price for J.D. Davis. It’s becoming increasingly clear, he’s not going to hit well or play good defense. As a result, each game the Mets force him into the lineup only serves to make a bad situation worse.
- On Davis, do yourself a favor and don’t look at the Astros 1B/DH situation.
- While it was nice to see Luis Guillorme finally get into a game, he needs to see more action, especially with Davis playing his way to a demotion.
- It’s very cool to see Yoenis Cespedes‘ brother Yoelkis regarded as one of the top Cuban prospects available. Here’s hoping the Mets can find a way to add him to the organization.
- The schadenfreude seeing the Yankees follow a Mets-like offseason with a series of Metsian injuries (CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki, Jacoby Ellsbury) is off the charts.
- With respect to Brandon Nimmo, it was shocking to see him not get a day after getting hit on the hand. Even if he was alright, with him scuffling, it made sense to give him the extra day.
- Mickey Callaway‘s handling of the bullpen in the series was both bad and dangerous. He pushed a Luis Avilan, a LOOGY with a history of shoulder injuries, to try to pitch two innings. He also pushed Seth Lugo to try almost 40 pitches despite his being ill. That’s how you make two laughers nail biters.
- That said, Robert Gsellman needs to be better. It was his performance which led to Callaway needing to turn to Edwin Diaz for the save.
- Even with the struggles from the rest of the pen, the Mets are more than alright with Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson ready to go 7-8-9 to close out a win.
- If the Mets can’t trust Jason Vargas to go more than five innings against the worst team in baseball when the bullpen is short, why is he in the rotation, especially when Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent.
- With the Mets not trusting Vargas, we need to keep a close eye on Anthony Kay who impressed in Spring Training and will be the Opening Day starter for Binghamton today.
- It was hard to tell on TV, but with a large contingent of Mets fans at Marlins Park, is booing Peter O’Brien still going to be a thing.
- Umpire Ron Kulpa’s behavior was unnecessarily confrontational and unbefitting to the impartiality and temperance we should expect from an umpire. A.J. Hinch was right to confront him, and now it’s time for MLB to confront and potentially begin to suspend umpires who behave this way.
- With respect to Ron Darling‘s book, former teammates Dwight Gooden, Kevin Mitchell, and Darryl Strawberry defending Lenny Dykstra doesn’t mean Darling is lying. There’s a lot of room between those players not hearing something and it actually happening even if Oil Can Boyd said he didn’t hear anything.
- More troubling than the Darling/Dykstra controversy is Darling saying Bob Murphy would pass out drunk in the clubhouse and saying Gary Carter tried to stuff the All-Star ballots. Dykstra is a man who is all too eager to defend himself. Dead men like Murphy and Carter can’t.
- It’s going to be sad to not hear David Wright‘s name announced with the team on Opening Day. It’s not too similar from 2006 when we didn’t hear Mike Piazza‘s name. Hopefully, this will be like 2006 in more ways than one.
In recent news former Mets great Al Leiter has announced he will not be returning to the YES booth for the 2019 season. With him leaving the booth, he is leaving behind a promising and good broadcast career which had begun when he was a player providing commentary during the 2003 NLCS.
During that NLCS, you could see Leiter was going to be a gifted broadcaster. He hasn’t disappointed in his time as a Yankees color commentator or as an analyst on MLB Network. Seeing his work, you knew no one was pushing him out the door, and yet Leiter has announced he is leaving.
The reason is his son, Jack, is a senior in high school, and he is committed to Vanderbilt. If Jack is anything like his father, his uncle Mark Leiter, or even his cousin also named Mark Leiter, he has a real Major League future ahead of him. If that is the case, Al Leiter is going to be in New Jersey doing work for the MLB Network, or he will be in the Bronx, or he will find himself anywhere where the Yankees travel.
That does not leave him much time to watch his son pitch during his senior season. It doesn’t give him time to give parental advice to help prepare his son for college or even the draft. It doesn’t leave enough time for him to spend time with his son because his son finds himself in places like Tennesse, whether that is for college or for an Appalachian League affiliate.
In his career, Leiter made approximately $68 million. He’s done a fine job as a broadcaster presumably earning a good salary. With his reputation and his relatively young age (53), Leiter has the chance to do this. This is all every parent wants, and Leiter has that opportunity. Good for him for taking full advantage.
When he’s ready to return, there could be a chance for him at SNY as the Mets have begun taking more of a look at the 90’s Mets team. We have seen Todd Zeile recently hired to replace Nelson Figueroa and Bob Ojeda before him. Sooner or later, we know Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling are going to leave the Mets booth.
Maybe, there will be room for a new booth with Gary, Leiter, and Mike Piazza. It would be the type of booth which could generate the same chemistry and cache with Mets fans. And who knows, maybe we will see Leiter calling games his son is pitching.
But before then, let’s hope the best for Jack Leiter and hope Al enjoys each and every minute of the ride.
The New York Mets have had a number of down seasons with 2018 being one of them. There were some bright spots this past season with Jacob deGrom emerging as the best pitcher in baseball being one of them. This is reminiscent of how many times we have seen different Mets players have great seasons in what has been an otherwise lost season for the franchise.
The last time we saw anything like deGrom’s season happen was R.A. Dickey‘s 2012 season. While the knuckleballer had been better than expected for a few years, no one could see him winning 20 games let alone beating out Clayton Kershaw, who was still in his prime, for the Cy Young Award.
While it was Dickey who won the Cy Young Award, it was Johan Santana who captured the hearts of Mets fans by pitching the first no-hitter in Mets history. Special mention needs to go here for Mike Baxter‘s catch.
In 2004, Mike Piazza passed a significant career milestone by hitting his 352nd career homer as a catcher. With the home run, he passed Carlton Fisk, and he all but cemented his Hall of Fame case by hitting the most home runs as a catcher.
Another Mets catcher who set a home run record was Todd Hundley. In 1996, his 41 homers would not just match a Mets single season record, but it would also pass Roy Campanella‘s single season record for most homers by a catcher. That season saw a number of feats including Bernard Gilkey setting the Mets single-season record for doubles and Lance Johnson setting the record for most triples in a season. Remarkably, all three of these Mets records stand to this day.
On the final game of the 1991 season, which was the Mets first losing season since 1983, David Cone tied the then National League record with 19 strikeouts in a game. It was a feat which had only been previously met by Mets legend Tom Seaver.
Speaking of that 1983 season, Darryl Strawberry would become the first and to this date only Mets position player to ever win the Rookie of the Year Award. The 1983 season was also notable because after the Midnight Massacre, Seaver would finally come home to the Mets.
Really, it was that 1983 season which was the beginning of something special with the Mets. In addition to Strawberry and Seaver, the Mets called-up rookie starter Ron Darling. Much like how he is joined in the SNY booth now by Keith Hernandez, he was teammates with Hernandez that season because the Mets would make a franchise altering trade to acquire the former MVP.
Really, when you look at 1983, you can see how even a bad year is the building block towards a team building a World Series winning club. Hopefully, that is what the 2018 season was for the Mets.
You can argue it was the case with deGrom emerging as the best pitcher in baseball, and Zack Wheeler matching him big start for big start in the second half. Brandon Nimmo had the second highest wRC+ among National League outfielders, and Michael Conforto returned to being Michael Conforto in the second half. More than that, Amed Rosario seemed to turn the corner while his new double play partner, Jeff McNeil, burst onto the scene.
In the end, when you look at losing seasons like 2018, you can see great things. More than that, you can see how great things will soon be in store for the Mets.
While it is not an official policy, the Mets organization will only retire the numbers of players who enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap. That is why the only Mets players who have their numbers retired are Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza. If the Baseball Hall of Fame honored Gary Carter‘s choice, he would have gone into the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap, and as a result, his number would have been retired as well.
That would have pleased many Mets fans who want to see his number be retired. More than Carter, Mets fans seem to want to see Keith Hernandez‘s and David Wright‘s numbers retired. With respect to those two, chances are neither enter the Hall of Fame, and just like Carter, chances are Hernandez is inducted into the Hall of Fame wearing a Cardinals cap.
Much of the Carter and Hernandez push is related to both players being key veterans on the 1986 World Series team. Oddly enough, the same case has not been made for Davey Johnson.
Back in 1984, Frank Cashen tabbed Johnson to be the Mets manager. He was entasked with leading a Mets team to not just win a World Series, but really to just win games. The Mets had not been over .500 since 1976, which was Seaver’s last full season with the Mets. Seaver was back in 1983 only for the Mets to lose him again.
The winning happened immediately. Behind Rookie of the Year Dwight Gooden, and a young core which included Darryl Strawberry, Wally Backman, Ron Darling, and Sid Fernandez, the 1984 Mets finished second place in the National League East with a 90-72 record. This began a string of eight straight seasons where the Mets would finish second or better in the division. Johnson would oversee six of those seasons.
The 1985 Mets won 98 games, which was then the second most wins the Mets had ever accumulated. They were that close to winning the division. Entering 1986, Johnson would declare the Mets were the team to beat, and his team would back him up. Their 108 wins is the third most ever by a National League team.
When you include the postseason, the 1986 have won more games than any other National League team over the past century.
Yes, this does speak to how great the 1986 Mets were, but it also speaks to Johnson’s managerial abilities. He was ahead of his time using data and statistics to inform his decisions. Yes, those 1980s Mets teams were talented, but it was Johnson who got everything out of those talented teams by optimizing his team’s lineups.
This is why Johnson would become the first ever National League manager to have 90+ wins in each of his first five seasons.
He’s also the only Mets manager with two 100 win seasons. He joins Gil Hodges as only one of two Mets managers to win a World Series, and he was the first Mets manager to go to two different postseasons.
Johnson is the Mets all-time leader in wins and winning percentage. He is second only to Terry Collins in games managed. He is second to Bobby Valentine in postseason wins, which is partially a function of Major League Baseball adding an additional postseason round when they added the Wild Card in 1994.
Despite all of these records and his impact on the franchise, Hodges and Casey Stengel remain the only two managers who have had their numbers retired by the Mets. Given how the standards to retire manager numbers (to the extent there is any) is far lower than for players, it is odd how nearly 30 years after Johnson managed his last game, he has not had his number retired.
His number not being retired may become more of an issue going forward as once again he is a candidate on the Today’s Game ballot for the Hall of Fame. With his having a better winning percentage than Hall of Famers like Bobby Cox (a manager who also has just one World Series to his credit), and his being only one of two managers in MLB history to lead four separate franchises to to the postseason, there is a real case to be made for Johnson’s induction.
If inducted, he is likely going to enter the Hall of Fame as a member of the Mets. If so, any and all excuses to not retire his number have gone by the wayside. Of course, that is unless you are not of the belief Johnson has not done enough to merit having his number retired anyway.
Given how his number has not been retired, it is certainly still up for debate whether it should or should not be retired by the Mets organization. Going forward, when debates happen,,when taking into account standards already set forth coupled with the impact on the organization, Davey Johnson should probably be first in line when it comes to having his number retired.
In the fourth inning of Game 2 of the ALDS Ron Darling said there was a “chink in the armor” referring to how Masahiro Tanaka was losing his control. Of course, this would lead the New York Daily News to say Darling “used a racial slur.”
This is completely dishonest reporting, and it is surprising a newspaper which trades in words, language, idioms, and common vernacular would stoop to such a level.
If you track the full etymology of the phrase, it is not a phrase with racial overtones, not is it used that way today.
As explained by various sites, including Writing Explained, the term was derived in the 15th century to explain a small opening in one’s armor. Since the 17th century, it has been used as an idiom to explain “refers to a weakness in one’s character or something that makes one vulnerable.”
For example, a pitcher losing control is a chink in their armor.
Now, if Darling used that to refer to Tanaka wearing his Yankees jersey? Well, obviously that would have been a racial slur. Clearly, he didn’t, and obviously, Darling would not even go there.
For those that forget, Darling is from Hawaii, is part Chinese, and has faced racial slurs all his life. No, this is not the rapper argument where they can use slurs other people can’t. No, it just serves to highlight how Darling might be sensitive to the issue and would not want to inflict upon someone the pain he has endured in his life.
Given how Darling has had to face real racial slurs in his life and the fact the term he used is not racist, calling Darling a racist here is callous and completely unwarranted. This is garbage “journalism” and it’s name smearing.
What the New York Daily News did to Darling is far worse than Darling using an appropriate term to describe an event. While Darling apologized, it is Darling himself who is owed the apology.
The smoke started when Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote an article naming four people “off the beaten path” who the Mets should consider to be their next General Manager. In compiling this list, Sherman included Ron Darling because “[h]e He is smart, hard-working, personable and passionate about the Mets.”
Clearly following up on Sherman’s idea, Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News asked some questions to Darling at a TBS event to promote their coverage for the 2018 postseason. In the article, Darling showed his interest through two key quotes:
I would be disingenuous if I didn’t say that if someone wants to sit down with me and talk about putting a team together I would absolutely take that meeting.
* * * * *
I know a lot of things would have to change with my family to take that task on, but everyone who loves the game wants a chance to put a team together, and I’m no different. I would prefer that to managing a team. The day-to-day stuff (involved in managing) would not be my favorite. But the behind the scenes stuff… I would be more qualified for those personal relationships away from the field.
With the intrigue created by two articles being published, Darling had to address the rumors during last night’s game, and he seemed strong in his intentions to continue with his broadcasting career. Specifically, Darling said, “I work for three different networks. I don’t have time to work as a general manager, nor do I have probably the skills to do it.”
With Darling giving differing accounts, it is difficult to ascertain what his true ambitions are. In both circumstances, it is quite possible he is giving the response he believes he thought he should provide. Taking the accounts together, they are not necessarily contradictory. After all, Darling could honestly have real interest int he General Manager job while also admitting to himself (and Mets fans watching the game) he ultimately does not have the requisite skill set to do the job.
What we do know is this has become an issue over the way the Mets are handling this search. Specifically, as noted in Mike Puma’s article in the New York Post, the Wilpons seem unable to determine exactly which style of general manager should led the organization. At some point, the Wilpons are going to have to reach some form of a consensus in what may prove to be an unexpected power struggle.
The question is whether the power struggle and battling ideology would ultimately lead to the Mets considering or hiring Darling.
Here’s what we do know. The Wilpons seem to like to surround themselves with people they know, like, and have previously had dealings. It is why when it came time to replace Jim Duquette, they lured Omar Minaya from Montreal. It’s also why they brought Omar Minaya back heading into this season. It’s why we see Terry Collins being given a real and not ceremonious role in the organization and his gaining more influence as the year has progressed.
This is the sort of environment where not only does a Darling get brought up as a possible candidate, but it is also the type of enviroment where he may get serious consideration.
If you play if out, you could see the narrative. Darling is a Yale graduate. As we have seen with John Lynch with San Francisco, former players and commentator can transition to the front office and be successful. As an aside, it doesn’t hurt Lynch was Kevin Burkhardt’s former partner on Fox. Having been around the team daily since 2006, Darling is well versed in the roster and its needs. He’s media savvy and respected by all.
Really, the narrative writes itself. The question is whether the Wilpons really go there. Right now, it’s likely they won’t, but sadly, at this point, we can’t rule it out.
With each start he makes, it becomes readily apparent if Jacob deGrom wins the Cy Young this season, he is going to do so with the lowest win total ever compiled by a starting pitcher. Looking at his stats, you really have no idea how he could be just 8-8. However, if you watched yesterday’s game, you know exactly why his record is that poor.
To no one’s surprise, deGrom began the game matching zeros with Madison Bumgarner in the first two innings. However, the Giants would break through in the third.
After Steven Duggar earned a leadoff walk, he would steal second. Devin Mesoraco would get out of his croutch slower than an old man reaching for a walker, and he would make a lollipop throw to second Travis d’Arnaud thought was bad. Duggar found himself on third after a Joe Panik groundout, and he would score when Mesoraco just missed a pitch, which would go back to the backstop.
Now, Home Plate Umpire Tony Randazzo was horrendous on the day, but despite Mesoraco’s complaints otherwise, Evan Longoria did not foul tip that ball. No, Mesoraco, who is showing himself to be a really poor catcher, flat out missed it. Mesoraco also failed to frame any number of pitches which would aid Randazzo in being a horrendous umpire.
The key call came in the fourth inning. With two outs and a runner on, deGrom threw an 0-2 pitch which led everyone in the ballpark to believe Nick Hundley just struck out looking:
Perhaps because he was frustrated, deGrom would walk Hundley, and then he would allow an RBI double to Bumgarner. At that point, it was 2-0 Giants, and with Bumgarner pitching, there was little to no hope the Mets would win this one.
Overall, this was an off-day for deGrom as he needed 108 pitches to get through six innings, and he would have a season high four walks. Of course, these struggles are indicative of just how great deGrom has been all season. In fact, a struggling deGrom limited the Giants to two runs (one earned) on four hits while he striking out 10.
The Mets would not even threaten Bumgarner until the fourth. There were two and two out, and McNeil hit a hard liner, but it was right at Panik.
It seemed as if the Mets may finally break through and get deGrom off the hook in the seventh. Todd Frazier led off the inning with a homer making him the first ever Met to homer off Bumgarner at Citi Field. Jose Bautista would get hit by a pitch, and McNeil would single. The rally would sputter as Kevin Plawecki, who had come on for an injured Mesoarco in the sixth, hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
That brought up Conforto. He battled back from 1-2 to draw a full count in a nine pitch at-bat. On the ninth pitch, Bumgarner beat Conforto inside with a well placed fastball to end the rally. Given how Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling were harping on the false narrative Bumgarner ruined Conforto’s 2016 season, we should see more of the same for any poor play Conforto makes the rest of the year.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets had a chance to rally back from 3-1 against Tony Watson, who they had already gotten to in the series. The only problem was Tony Randazzo wasn’t going to have any of it.
It appeared Wilmer Flores drew a four pitch walk to start the ninth. Instead, Randazzo called an obvious ball a strike. Flores then went the other way as he has been doing so well lately only to line it directly at Panik. Like with deGrom earlier in the game, Flores had some choice remarks for Randazzo, who, again, was terrible.
The game would come down to McNeil, who both Randazzo and the third base umpire ruled did not check his swing leading the Mets and perhaps more importantly deGrom to a loss. Looking at this game, you really see just how much deGrom has working against him as he tries to win games. Ultimately, if he does not win the Cy Young, there should be a line of people offering apologies. On that line, we should see Mesoraco and Randazzo.
Game Notes: Dominic Smith sat against Bumgarner the day after hitting a home run. The Mets are now 19-41 in games Mesoraco has played.
Watching the game tonight, it is really difficult to assess how well Zack Wheeler performed. On the one hand, he was executing his pitches as well as he ever has, and yet he earned the loss against a bad Marlins team.
Actually, there is a debate how much he “earned” that loss. Really, there was just one hiccup for him, and that was in the second inning when the Marlins scored all three of their runs.
The first run was on Wheeler, who allowed three straight hard hit balls by Brian Anderson (double), Derek Dietrich, and Miguel Rojas. After that, it’s hard to pin anything else on him. Caleb Smith popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt, which Jose Reyes fielded on hop, looked at every single base, and then threw the ball in the dirt thereby loading the bases.
That three run lead was brutal because as Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling kept opining, Smith was dealing for the Marlins. That is a plausible explanation considering Smith entered the game striking out 12 batters per nine. However, it needs to be noted the Mets bats are really awful against left-handed batters. Tonight, was no exception as Smith allowed one run on three hits over 6.2 innings.
The one run he allowed was in the bottom of the second, and it started with a Jose Bautista double. Speaking of Bautista, he was signed just before the game, and he was put in the starting lineup ahead of Jay Bruce, and he played left field. After the predictable Reyes out, Bautista moved to third, and he scored on a Tomas Nido sacrifice fly.
The Mets really wouldn’t get another rally started until the eighth. Adrian Gonzalez led off the inning with a double, and later than inning Brandon Nimmo earned a one out walk. The rally would falter there as Cabrera would hit into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.
While disappointing, that rally was too little too late anyway. In the top of the inning, Derek Dietrich hit a two run homer off AJ Ramos to expand the Marlins lead to 5-1. That would be the final score on a deeply disappointing day.
Game Notes: Reyes made two errors in the game, and he now has three hits and two errors on the month. Devin Mesoraco did not start after getting hit on the elbow with an errant swing last night. He did pinch hit in the seventh and flew out.