Ryan Church

1999 Mets Win One

There wasn’t John Franco blowing an eighth inning lead. Armando Benitez didn’t blow a 10th inning save opportunity. Kenny Rogers didn’t walk Andruw Jones with the bases loaded.

Instead, Frank Clark got Jimmy Garopollo into a grasp only Eli Manning could’ve wrestled out of leading to the drive ending on downs.

A Damien Williams touchdown and Kendall Fuller pick later, and the Chiefs somewhat improbable comeback was accomplished, and they were Super Bowl Champions.

Twenty years later, Mets fans got to finally see Pat Mahomes win a title.

No, it wasn’t with the same team or even the same sport, but Mahomes is a champion. Still, with him wearing his father’s Mets jersey on occasion, as a Mets fan, you couldn’t help from feeling happy for the family.

With the Chiefs winning their first Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV, you also couldn’t help but feel optimism the Mets own drought will soon end.

Like the Chiefs for so many years, the Mets seemed snake bitten facing many brutal losses and horrific moments since their last title.

Rogers walked in Jones. Todd Zeile‘s bounced back and Timo Perez didn’t run it out.

Roberto Alomar completely lost it. On that note, the team traded away Jason Bay too soon and signed him too late. There was also the mishandling of his and Ryan Church‘s concussions.

There were so many mishandled injuries. Pedro Martinez was inexplicably forced to pitch, and the Mets at least tried to prevent Carlos Beltran from getting knee surgery.

Of course, we have Beltran looking at an Adam Wainwright curveball and his teams teams collapse in the ensuing two years leaving everyone but Tom Glavine devastated. That’s nowhere near as bad as the embarrassment leading up to Beltran’s firing.

That cast a shadow over his World Series. Mets fans should be so lucky.

Terry Collins can completely blew the series with bad decisions which backfired all series long. Jeurys Familia‘s quick pitch didn’t fool Alex Gordon, and a year later, he was flat out beat by Conor Gillaspie.

This all meant David Wright, forced to retire too soon from spinal stenosis which robbed him of the Hall of Fame, never won a ring. To a lesser extent, there’s the career Matt Harvey never got to have due to his TOS.

Throw in the Madoff scandal and the Wilpons being the Wilpons, and this franchise seems as snakebitten as they come. That’s how the Chiefs fans once felt.

They don’t feel that way anymore. That changed with Mahomes, who is now a champion.

For the Mets, they have Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Noah Syndergaard, and more. Combine that with the impending sale of the team, and there’s hope.

Maybe, just maybe, 2020 will be the year for the Mets.

It may sound ridiculous, but so is Andy Reid managing the clock well and having terrific game management in the fourth quarter to help the Chiefs win a Super Bowl.

Steve Cohen Failed His Test As Mets Owner

There is a massive caveat here the sale of the New York Mets from Sterling Equities to Steve Cohen has not yet been finalized. That said, for all intents and purposes, even with Fred Wilpon the CEO and Jeff Wilpon the COO, Cohen is the man who will be calling the shots.

That is the way it is with owners. The buck stops with them. We’re seeing the beginnings of it. In fact, as stated in a New York Post article, “Cohen must now approve, at minimum, all major allocations and, more importantly, can control the budget and decide to spend considerably more on payroll.”

That’s a very important point because it means Cohen at least had a say in the decision to let Zack Wheeler sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Remember, Wheeler came back to the Mets with the Phillies to give the team a chance to make the last offer.

The Mets never did make an offer to Wheeler. That’s all the more maddening when you consider he signed at a discount both in terms of value and in terms of offers received. In the wake of the initial euphoria of the news regarding the Wilpons selling the team, we actually lost sight of how the Mets now have money to spend on free agents.

So far, that money has not been spent on Wheeler even with the competitive balance tax purportedly no longer being an issue.

Now, we know nothing of Cohen’s thought process, how he’s going to run this team, or when exactly he plans to spend. Perhaps, passing on Wheeler will allow the Mets to unexpectedly pursue players like Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg.

Perhaps, he is taking a longer term view and looking to make sure the team can re-sign Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto. Maybe, Cohen is waiting until the Wilpons are no longer in a position of power.

Fact is, right now, we just don’t know.

At the moment, the only thing we do know is Wheeler is a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. The other thing we know is we know nothing about what comes next.

We don’t know the budget, or when the team will finally spend. However, for once, we do know the team will spend. They’ll do what is necessary to win games. That is not something which has been a given with the Mets since Ryan Church flied out and Tom Seaver threw one last pitch to Mike Piazza.

Mets fans can also do something they haven’t done in decades. They can give ownership the benefit of the doubt. We can now entertain there were plausible reasons for passing on Wheeler other than the Wilpons not willing to pay a de minis luxury tax while picketing tens of millions from the insurance policies on David Wright‘s and Yoenis Cespedes‘ contracts as well as the deferred portion of Jacob deGrom‘s 2020 salary.

Until proven otherwise, there’s a plan. There’s an ability to run this as not just a New York team but a competently run baseball franchise. Finally, there’s hope.

So yes, Cohen failed to sign Wheeler, which in and of itself, is a bad decision, especially at that contract. However, right now, there is no reason to expect more of the same, and that’s a good feeling.

Steve Cohen Failed His Test As Mets Owner

There is a massive caveat here the sale of the New York Mets from Sterling Equities to Steve Cohen has not yet been finalized. That said, for all intents and purposes, even with Fred Wilpon the CEO and Jeff Wilpon the COO, Cohen is the man who will be calling the shots.

That is the way it is with owners. The buck stops with them. We’re seeing the beginnings of it. In fact, as stated in a New York Post article, “Cohen must now approve, at minimum, all major allocations and, more importantly, can control the budget and decide to spend considerably more on payroll.”

That’s a very important point because it means Cohen at least had a say in the decision to let Zack Wheeler sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Remember, Wheeler came back to the Mets with the Phillies to give the team a chance to make the last offer.

The Mets never did make an offer to Wheeler. That’s all the more maddening when you consider he signed at a discount both in terms of value and in terms of offers received. In the wake of the initial euphoria of the news regarding the Wilpons selling the team, we actually lost sight of how the Mets now have money to spend on free agents.

So far, that money has not been spent on Wheeler even with the competitive balance tax purportedly no longer being an issue.

Now, we know nothing of Cohen’s thought process, how he’s going to run this team, or when exactly he plans to spend. Perhaps, passing on Wheeler will allow the Mets to unexpectedly pursue players like Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg.

Perhaps, he is taking a longer term view and looking to make sure the team can re-sign Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto. Maybe, Cohen is waiting until the Wilpons are no longer in a position of power.

Fact is, right now, we just don’t know.

At the moment, the only thing we do know is Wheeler is a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. The other thing we know is we know nothing about what comes next.

We don’t know the budget, or when the team will finally spend. However, for once, we do know the team will spend. They’ll do what is necessary to win games. That is not something which has been a given with the Mets since Ryan Church flied out and Tom Seaver threw one last pitch to Mike Piazza.

Mets fans can also do something they haven’t done in decades. They can give ownership the benefit of the doubt. We can now entertain there were plausible reasons for passing on Wheeler other than the Wilpons not willing to pay a de minis luxury tax while pocketing tens of millions from the insurance policies on David Wright‘s and Yoenis Cespedes‘ contracts as well as the deferred portion of Jacob deGrom‘s 2020 salary.

Until proven otherwise, there’s a plan. There’s an ability to run this as not just a New York team but a competently run baseball franchise. Finally, there’s hope.

So yes, Cohen failed to sign Wheeler, which in and of itself, is a bad decision, especially at that contract. However, right now, there is no reason to expect more of the same, and that’s a good feeling.

Steve Cohen Failed His Test As Mets Owner

There is a massive caveat here the sale of the New York Mets from Sterling Equities to Steve Cohen has not yet been finalized. That said, for all intents and purposes, even with Fred Wilpon the CEO and Jeff Wilpon the COO, Cohen is the man who will be calling the shots.

That is the way it is with owners. The buck stops with them. We’re seeing the beginnings of it. In fact, as stated in a New York Post article, “Cohen must now approve, at minimum, all major allocations and, more importantly, can control the budget and decide to spend considerably more on payroll.”

That’s a very important point because it means Cohen at least had a say in the decision to let Zack Wheeler sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Remember, Wheeler came back to the Mets with the Phillies to give the team a chance to make the last offer.

The Mets never did make an offer to Wheeler. That’s all the more maddening when you consider he signed at a discount both in terms of value and in terms of offers received. In the wake of the initial euphoria of the news regarding the Wilpons selling the team, we actually lost sight of how the Mets now have money to spend on free agents.

So far, that money has not been spent on Wheeler even with the competitive balance tax purportedly no longer being an issue.

Now, we know nothing of Cohen’s thought process, how he’s going to run this team, or when exactly he plans to spend. Perhaps, passing on Wheeler will allow the Mets to unexpectedly pursue players like Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg.

Perhaps, he is taking a longer term view and looking to make sure the team can re-sign Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto. Maybe, Cohen is waiting until the Wilpons are no longer in a position of power.

Fact is, right now, we just don’t know.

At the moment, the only thing we do know is Wheeler is a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. The other thing we know is we know nothing about what comes next.

We don’t know the budget, or when the team will finally spend. However, for once, we do know the team will spend. They’ll do what is necessary to win games. That is not something which has been a given with the Mets since Ryan Church flied out and Tom Seaver threw one last pitch to Mike Piazza.

Mets fans can also do something they haven’t done in decades. They can give ownership the benefit of the doubt. We can now entertain there were plausible reasons for passing on Wheeler other than the Wilpons not willing to pay a de minis luxury tax while picketing tens of millions from the insurance policies on David Wright‘s and Yoenis Cespedes‘ contracts as well as the deferred portion of Jacob deGrom‘s 2020 salary.

Until proven otherwise, there’s a plan. There’s an ability to run this as not just a New York team but a competently run baseball franchise. Finally, there’s hope.

So yes, Cohen failed to sign Wheeler, which in and of itself, is a bad decision, especially at that contract. However, right now, there is no reason to expect more of the same, and that’s a good feeling.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Look Like The Arnold Schwarzenegger Twin

The Mets had a two game set against the Twins as they continued their nine game road trip where they hoped to possibly bring themselves back into the Wild Card race:

1. Amed Rosario is playing the best baseball of his MLB career. Not only has he been red hot in July, but he has also played to a 2 DRS at short since the All Star Break. It’s a small sample size for sure, but it’s all a very encouraging sign.

2. Another good sign from the middle infield is Robinson Cano hitting again. His July numbers are reminiscent of the Cano of old, and like we saw on Tuesday, even when he’s not hitting, he can still drive in a run with an out.

3. Michael Conforto seems to have shaken off the effects of his concussion earlier in the year. In addition to his hitting like Conforto again, he made a terrific play in center field to rob Nelson Cruz of an extra base hit.

4. People calling Conforto overrated or a bust absolutely know nothing about baseball. It should be noted before his concussion, Conforto was hitting ..271/.406/.521 and in the 39 games after leading into the break he hit .217/.309/.420. We should be highlighting with Jason Bay and Ryan Church the Mets have a putrid history of dealing with players with concussions and not how a player struggles after suffering one.

5. Steven Matz‘s final line looked much better than how he pitched. He was hit hard by the Twins, and he was really lucky to allow just two earned over four. Still, it’s a positive step from where he was a month ago, so the hope is he can build off of it. Note, the use of the word hope and not expect.

6. Like Matz, Edwin Diaz has been hit really hard of late, and he is escaping trouble. While he converted that save on Tuesday, that was far too much of a high wire act, and it’s questionable how long the Mets can hang with these 20+ pitch innings and his walking the tightrope.

7. Even with Diaz allowing lasers, the bullpen has been MUCH better of late. After a 7.53 bullpen ERA in June, the team has a 3.78 July bullpen ERA which is tied for 10th best in the majors. This is partially the result of the Mets leaning on Seth Lugo perhaps more than they should and the return of Justin Wilson from the IL.

8. It looks like Ricky Bones helped fixed Jeurys Familia. He had two big and important appearances. We also saw him throwing that 99 MPH sinker again. Maybe this was all just mechanical with him, and that may or may not have been attributable to the shoulder issues. In any event, Familia finally looks like he is back on track.

9. We only get small snapshots of teams in Interleague Play, especially in two game sets, but it’s surprising to see this Twins team being atop the AL Central. Is this the result of the AL depth being that bad, or was this just a bad series? In any event, you take a two game sweep against a good team.

10. That six run inning against the Twins was huge. It took what could have been a tightrope walk with a bullpen leaned on heavily a bit of late, and it allowed the Mets to go to Chris Mazza to eat up two innings. That is a huge development which cannot be undersold.

11. While Dominic Smith hit the go-ahead pinch hit three run homer, it was Pete Alonso‘s 474 foot blast anyone could talk about. Certainly, that’s all Steve Gelbs wanted to talk about with Smith in the postgame. That and his striking out against a position player. To that end, why does everyone find Gelbs so charming? I don’t get it.

12. Gary Discarcina not sending Rosario to go try to get that inside-the-park homer was no fun at all.

13. It is really surprising the Mets would catch Wilson Ramos in a day game after a night game given his injury history and the fact the Mets were about to get on a flight to go to San Francisco after the game. You have to wonder how much the wear and tear here will linger.

14. Mets need to watch their usage of Lugo. As the pressure has ratcheted up a bit, they keep going to the whip there. When they did that with Robert Gsellman earlier in the year, they lost him. Really, at some point, the Mets need to learn this lesson before they lose a key piece.

15. Right now, you should feel good about the Mets. Whether we should feel good a week from now will depend on how they play.

16. With a 0.2 WAR, Wilmer Font was the best performing player Brodie Van Wagenen obtained via trade, and he was designated for assignment and traded to the Blue Jays for cash considerations. This is both hilarious and a fine example of how completely inept Van Wagenen has been as the Mets General Manager.

17. Mets fans seem to want to defend the team on designating Travis d’Arnaud for assignment much like how they defend the team’s decisions on Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner, Hansel Robles, Collin McHugh, and others. Really, at what point do fans stop defending the team and just start asking why the Jeff Wilpon led team continues to make poor assessments and decisions like these?

18. Zack Wheeler getting hurt pretty much means the Mets need to hold onto him and offer him a qualifying offer because it’s doubtful the Mets are going to get a return commensurate with the comp pick they would receive if Wheeler rejected the offer and signed elsewhere.

19. People need to stop making luxury tax threshold excuses for the Mets for their building a team in 2020. Remember, that includes $15 million of David Wright‘s contract which is covered by insurance and has been settled by the Mets. Another $29.5 million is from Yoenis Cespedes who has part of his contract covered by insurance. Finally, $12 million of Jacob deGrom‘s $25 million is deferred. The Mets can and should go over the luxury tax threshold next year if they really want to compete.

20. Now that this series is over, the Mets play 20 straight games against teams with a losing record. After that, they have three against the Phillies, who currently hold the second Wild Card spot. If you have hopes the Mets can make a run, there it is.

Brandon Nimmo And His Neck Given The Mets “Treatment”

In his eponymous autobiography Pedro, Pedro Martinez detailed how Jeff Wilpon pressured him to pitch despite knowing Pedro was injured. It did not matter team doctors advised Pedro not to pitch or Willie Randolph told Pedro he was done for the year. Jeff Wilpon demanded he pitch, and pitch Pedro did.

As we would discover, this was not an isolated incident. Not by a long shot. The details to which Jeff Wilpon micromanaged injury and medical decisions was highlighted by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN:

Multiple sources said the lack of a single medical point person allows for greater involvement by COO Jeff Wilpon in areas where he’s lacking in professional expertise. They describe Wilpon as a micromanager who creates an environment in which the Mets simply whipsaw from one crisis to the next and are too often governed by how their decisions will be publicly perceived.

“Jeff gets in the middle of everything that’s going on, and he ends up doing more damage,” said a person who has been involved in the Mets’ internal operation. “He meddles. I can’t come up with a more appropriate term.”

Crasnick was far from the only reporter to indicated Jeff Wilpon was this meddlesome in medical decisions. In an interview with Michael Mayer of MMO, former Mets executive Nick Francona agreed with the assessment the Wilpons are meddlesome to the point they “have to have their finger in every pie.”

Certainly, there is an issue with how the Mets handle injuries and injured players. On Bleacher Report, Bob Klapish detailed the issues with how the Mets handle injured players, and as seen with Crasnick’s article, it is traced back to Jeff Wilpon’s involvement:

Paraphrasing one industry executive, it’s almost as if ownership—read: Jeff Wilpon—punishes players who get hurt, banishing them 1,000 miles away from New York. Some players can be trusted on their own. Others see the relatively sparse facilities in Florida, which are designed for low-level minor leaguers during the summer, and defiantly turn the empty time into a de facto vacation.

* * * * * *

What to do with players on the injured list—where to send them, how to treat them—has been a point of contention within the Mets front office for several years. Ultimately, Wilpon has used his veto power to prevent an overhaul.

Maybe it is due to Jeff Wilpon, and maybe it isn’t, but we see a continued pattern with how the Mets both report and handle injuries.

The team pressured Carlos Beltran to forego knee surgery. Both Ryan Church and Jason Bay went on long flights after concussions. It was initially reported David Wright had a hamstring injury before we discovered the real issue was spinal stenosis. Matt Harvey was pressured to pitch well beyond the innings limits purported set and agreed upon prior to the 2015 season. Yoenis Cespedes was activated for just two games, and the team at first publicly denied he needed season ending double heel surgery. There are countless other examples.

We see this pattern re-emerging with Brandon Nimmo.

During Spring Training, Nimmo was described as having a right shoulder issue. It was apparently not sufficient enough of an issue for him to miss Opening Day. A few weeks into the season (April 16), Nimmo would be removed from the game against the Phillies. What was first described as a right shoulder issue would quickly be re-characterized as a “stiff neck.”

Nimmo would miss just two games before returning to the lineup. For a month, there would be no real mention of issues related to Nimmo’s neck. In fact, the only thing we would hear about is an oblique related issue. Still, despite his having a shoulder/neck issue, getting hit on the hand, and dealing with an oblique issue, Nimmo would not land on the disabled list until May 22.

At that time, Nimmo was hitting .200/.344/.323. It is important to remember this was a year after Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League trailing just National League MVP Christian Yelich in wRC+. At 26, he was supposed to take off and build off of last year. Instead, he was dealing with some nagging injuries and a “stiff neck.”

It is important to note here Nimmo said the neck injury which landed him on the injured list was the same injury he had been dealing with since April.

Finally, after dealing with injuries in the area of the body since February and more specifically since April 16, Nimmo was sent for an MRI. The results of the MRI showed Nimmo had a bulging disc in his neck.

On June 6, Nimmo began a rehab assignment. In his first game, he was 2-for-4 with a triple. In the ensuing four games, he was 0-for-10. He was given the June 13 game off, and then he was scratched from the lineup the following day.

As detailed by the NY Post‘s Zach Braziller, the Mets had claimed Nimmo was dealing with neck inflammation until Nimmo revealed it was a bulging disc. Moreover, Mickey Callaway admitted Nimmo was playing rehab games despite the fact his neck issue had never gone away.

Now, Nimmo is going to see Dr. Robert Watkins in California. If that name sounds familiar, it should. Dr. Watkins is the same specialist who treated Wright for his spinal stenosis. The Los Angeles Daily News has called him one of the top 50 powerful sports figures in Los Angeles. This is partially due to his treatment of Peyton Manning. On a baseball front, he also treated Don Mattingly in addition to Wright.

What is interesting to note in the article lauding him is the statement, “The microdiscectomy surgery he performs on most of his sports clients provides relief for herniated discs.” At this point, we have no real way of knowing how this applies to Nimmo.

Part of the reason why is the Mets went from soreness to inflammation to bulging disc. They had Nimmo play until he could no longer play, and he was sent on a rehab assignment despite the injury not having fully healed.

To be fair, there are factors here which could absolve the Mets. Doctors could have said Nimmo could play so long as he felf comfortable playing. Certainly, Nimmo could have not told the team the full extent of his injuries, or maybe, Nimmo did feel as if he could play through it all. It would not be the first or last time any of these types of things have happened.

While we shouldn’t discount that, we cannot discount the reports regarding Jeff Wilpon’s meddling into medical decisions. We should not discount how Wright goes from a leg injury to career ending spinal stenosis or how the team was initially set against Beltran or Cespedes receiving the surgeries they required.

More than that, there was Pedro. Certainly, if an eight time All Star, three time Cy Young Award winner, and a future Hall of Famer felt pressured to go against medical and managerial advice because Jeff Wilpon demanded he play, you wonder how a 26 year old like Nimmo would hypothetically feel if he was ever put in the same situation.

Overall, we do not know exactly what transpired with Nimmo. We do not know what he said to the team or his doctors, what his doctors communicated to him and the team, or what the team instructed him to do. All we do know is Nimmo’s injury and handling thereof have fit a pattern which has existed with the Mets for over a decade now. We have seen this ruin some careers and alter others. Hopefully, we will not see the same fate befall Nimmo as has befallen other Mets.

20/20 Hindsight: Finally Back To .500

With the Mets taking 2/3 from the Tigers, the team is finally back to .500 effectively letting them hit the reset button and start anew:

1. The Mets should have swept the Tigers, but it’s hard to complain about winning two out of three and eight of nine, especially after being swept by the Marlins.

2. It won’t last, but with a pair of three run homers in the series, Adeiny Hechavarria is looking like the slugging second baseman Robinson Cano was supposed to be.

3. Wilson Ramos‘ power has returned exactly when the Mets needed. He hit three homers in the series and had four extra base hits against the Tigers after entering the series with just two homers and five extra base hits.

4. On Saturday, Ramos joined with Tomas Nido to hit three homers to carry the Mets offense in the 13 inning win. So far, Nido has been fine as a defensive minded back-up.

5. Todd Frazier is also stepping up. His bunt to beat the shift was almost as amazing as the diving stop he made to save a run. Over his last eight games, he’s hitting .321/.424/.429.

6. The Mets have completely mismanaged their outfield situation.

7. Brandon Nimmo was very hurt, and the Mets response was to drop him in the lineup, not get him checked out.

8. It’s fair to say Keon Broxton didn’t earn playing time, but the team had the chance to get him playing time and reap the rewards the Orioles are. To make it worse, the $500,000 bonus pool money was a nothing return as it needs to be spent by June 15 and any player deserving of the amount has been long signed.

9. That’s not to see there still aren’t players who could surprise. For example, not too long ago, the Mets signed Gerson Molina, who is impressing after not having played baseball in nearly three years.

10. Carlos Gomez is hitting .133. Aaron Altherr followed a homer in his first at-bat as a Met by going 0-for-5 and is now 2-for-36 on the season. Rajai Davis was designated for assignment.

11. As Sandy Alderson and Alejandro De Aza showed, and we’re seeing it again, you can’t completely overreact to the struggles of bench players for almost the sole purpose of throwing some red meat to your fans.

12. As great as it is to see Michael Conforto back, let’s hope he’s actually ready. Given what happened with Ryan Church, Mets fans should be holding their breath with the team flying to Los Angeles.

13. It didn’t work, but bringing in Edwin Diaz in the eighth was absolutely the correct move. It should also be noted with him needing 13 pitches to get that last out, pulling him after the inning was also the correct move.

14. Mickey Callaway pulled all the right strings in the Mets 13 inning victory, and he’s been much better recently.

15. Drew Gagnon deserves a pass for his tough outing. That said, it’s fair to question if he’s ready for that late inning set-up role.

16. Jason Vargas has only gone five innings against the five worst offenses in baseball. This is what an effective long man looks like, not a fifth starter. That’s still better than what Noah Syndergaard did.

17. Syndergaard has been quite mercurial this year, and it might be because of the new ball. He’s talked about having difficulty getting a grip, and if you track it, pitchers who use a slider instead of a curve seem to be disproportionately affected by the new ball.

18. Give Zack Wheeler credit for his ability to put a tough inning or start behind him and still go deep in a game. If he can just find a way to get into a groove the first time through the lineup, he’d be Cy Young material.

19. Seeing Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith play, the Mets should not be 100% convinced Alonso is the guy, especially as Alonso continues to regress.

20. You should take the time to read Nick Francona’s interview with Paul Lukas on Uni Watch, especially today.

Conforto Needs The Mets To Learn From Concussion History

On August 16, 2009, David Wright stepped up to the plate against Matt Cain, and he would get hit on the helmet knocking him unconscious. As a result of the hit by pitch, Wright would sustain a concussion. Up until that point in the season, Wright was hitting .324/.414/.467. He would miss 15 games, and in the 29 games after he returned, he would wear a ridiculously large helmet and hit .239/.289/.367.

For years, there would be questions about whether Wright could ever be the same player after getting hit by that pitch. Some would surmise he was gun shy on inside pitches. There were other theories as well. However, what is not oft discussed is whether the Mets were sufficiently cautious in bringing him back from his concussion.

That’s not a discussion people had with respect to Ryan Church,. In real time, people thought the Mets handling of him and his concussion went well beyond negligence. In fact, they showed ignorance and stupidity.

On May 20, 2008, Church slid into second base in an attempt to break up a double play. On the slide, Yunel Escobar‘s knee hit him in the helmet with such force it rendered Church unconscious. It was his second concussion in little more than three months. After missing just one game, he would board a plane and fly with the team to Colorado. It would be a couple of weeks before he hit the disabled list.

Prior to the concussion, Church as a revelation for the Mets. Over his first 43 games, he was hitting .311/.379/.534. After the concussion, he hit .241/.313/.342. He wasn’t much better in 2009, and to add insult to injury Mets manager Jerry Manuel questioned his toughness and went so far to cite how Wright came back from his concussion.

Of course, Manuel was such a terrible manager he was never aware of how Wright struggled after his concussion.

Effectively speaking, this concussion and the Mets handling of it ended Church’s career. He was never quite the same player again, and after the 2010 season, he was out of baseball. The same was likely the case for another Mets outfielder.

On July 23, 2010, Jason Bay ran head first into a wall at Dodger Stadium, and he suffered a concussion on the play. He’d fly back with the team from Los Angeles to New York.

While we remember Bay’s tenure with the Mets as a complete disappointment, at that point in the season he was an above average hitter with a 1.5 WAR on track for a near 3.0 WAR season. Despite the concussion, Bay would actually play two more games before being shut down for the rest of the year. To be fair Bay was not the hitter the Mets expected him to be. Although, no one was in the days of the Great Wall of Flushing.

As bad as Bay was in 2010, he kept getting worse in the ensuing years. He’d retire at the age of 34 after his $66 million contract expired.

If we are being honest, we do not know what impact concussions had on any of these players. With each player, there were extenuating circumstances. We have also seen concussions are not a death sentence for anyone’s career.

For example, Wright had a great 2010 season, and he would have great years leading up to his career ending spinal stenosis. Mike Piazza was concussed by a Roger Clemens fastball on July 8, 2000. He would return five days later, and he would hit .294/.380/.518 (which was a big drop-off for him) in a season where he would led the Mets to the World Series. He would also show no ill effects going forward with a great 2001 season. Ultimately, it was the wear and tear from catching and age, not the head injury, which led to the end of Piazza’s career.

No player is alike, and we have seen seemingly recovered athletes struggle from their returns from concussions. When handled poorly, you have the potential to ruin careers. We saw that with Church, and we have seen it with athletes in other sports as well.

This is the dilemma facing the Mets right now. So far, they have done everything right with Michael Conforto. They have apparently learned from their lessons from their gross mishandling of concussions in the past. That said, there is the natural pull from the team to rush him back from this injury.

With Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, and Robinson Cano on the IL, the team desperately needs him in the lineup. That said, they need a healthy and ready to play Conforto. When that time will be is anyone’s best guess. The key here for the Mets and especially for Conforto and his career is they guess right.

20/20 Hindsight: National Lampoon’s Mets

The Mets went to Washington to face a bad Nationals team, and they cam out of the series looking like the bad team. They’re now not just bad, but also injured. Things are going south real fast:

1. The Mets absolutely did the right thing pulling Michael Conforto from that game. The team should be commended not just for pulling him but also for sending him to New York by train. It’s good to see they’ve learned something from how they mismanaged the Ryan Church and Jason Bay concussions.

2. It’s not his fault per se, but Robinson Cano cannot both be bad at the plate and in the field while also taking out the team’s best player.

3. With Conforto and Jeff McNeil having injuries, Cano needs to step up now. Same goes to Todd Frazier, who should begin to see some regular playing time, which should allow him to get into a groove. Not only do these two players need it to happen, Brodie Van Wagenen does as well.

4. Other than Edwin Diaz not one move Van Wagenen made this offseason has panned out,and it looks all the worse considering how much the team gave up in terms of prospects in an attempt to improve the team.

5. Drew Gagnon made Van Wagenen look bad when he out-pitched Wilmer Font who looked like a 29 year old reliever with a career 6.81 ERA trying to be a starting pitcher. Looking at Gagnon, you realize, not only was the trade unnecessary, but also giving up a prospect for a when you had a better version of him was plain dumb.

6. Gio Gonzalez continues to make the Mets look worse. In four starts, he is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA and a 1.078 WHIP. In all four of his starts, he has gone at least five innings, which is something the Mets have only gotten twice from their fifth starts in their 10 starts. That includes Jason Vargas, who is averaging 3.2 innings per start.

7. As if Gonzalez performing well isn’t enough, and knowing the team passed on him thinking Vargas was better and Steven Matz was dealing with elbow issues, we now find out the team never actually made him an offer.

8. Van Wagenen did the same exact thing with his outfield. The Mets entered the year with just two starting caliber starting outfielders, and the team brought in Keon Broxton, who was a worse version of Juan Lagares. As a result, Broxton has seen almost no playing time.

9. It may not be a good look for Broxton to complain after his noncompetitive at-bat to end the game, but he does have a point. The team traded real assets to obtain him only to superglue him to the bench and not give him a real chance to establish himself.

10. Because of the Mets stubbornness not letting Dominic Smith play left field, the team is forced to play J.D. Davis in left field despite his not having the speed to play left field and his hitting .219/.219/.250 during the month.

11. It is going to be fun seeing Carlos Gomez wear a Mets uniform again. He was the big time prospect who was supposed to take us to the next level, except he didn’t because he was traded for Johan Santana. Then, he didn’t come back because he failed his medicals, which was fine by Mets fans as Wilmer Flores became a folk hero. Through all that has happened, it would be great to see Gomez be the key piece to a Mets winner like we thought he would be in 2007 and 2015.

12. The league has caught up to Pete Alonso. In May, Alonso is hitting just .191/.255/.383 while striking out 29.4 percent of the time. You wonder how long this goes on for before either Alonso adjusts or the Mets are forced to make a decision.

13. Even with Robert Gsellman struggles yesterday, the Mets bullpen has been great in May with the best ERA in the National League.

14. Too much is being made of Gsellman not pitching over eight days. This is a guy the Mets intend on leaning on heavily to pitch multiple innings, and anywhere you can get him a bit of extended rest you do it. It should also be noted between off days and the rain outs, the Mets haven’t played much over the past eight days.

15. So far, Tyler Bashlor has really stepped up and taken advantage of the opportunity given to him. With the way he is pitching, he may be an important piece to this bullpen.

16. Noah Syndergaard is finally looking like Syndergaard again with two of his last three outings being completely dominant.

17. Zack Wheeler‘s own run was broken up with a very disappointing effort against the Nationals. In that spot against that team, Wheeler needed to be better.

18. While we should expect more from Wheeler in that spot, it’s hard to get on Mets pitchers as a whole, as they are the reason the Mets are even close to .500. It’s also important to remember Wheeler is a second half pitcher, and as Syndergaard will tell you, the Mets are a second half team. The trick there is being close enough in the standings to take advantage of that.

19. Mickey Callaway‘s statement on catcher winning percentage was laughable, but then again what does he have to sell you to say Wilson Ramos has been good this year?

20. There are valid criticisms of Callaway like his dry humping Diaz and using Seth Lugo the day before Font was set to start. However, make no mistake, he’s only on the hot seat because none of Van Wagenen’s moves have worked. Ultimately, that makes Callaway the fall guy for a novice General Manager who has looked to be in over his head.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Most Bizarre Mets Injuries

With reports Brandon Nimmo getting sick from cooking his own chicken dinner, it does inspire many to say, “Same old Mets!” Certainly, the Mets have had their fair share of bizarre injuries and illnesses over their 57 year history. There are plenty of stories, and the Mets bloggers share some of the more infamous in Mets history:

Michael Baron

I love Noah Syndergaard, but the hand, foot and mouth disease is easily the standout injury in recent memory for me.

Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)

Valley Fever…and it’s not close. Single-handedly ended Ike Davis‘ career.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

I’ll bring up Ryan Church here. Not that a concussion is bizarre, but putting him on an airplane to Denver and then Snoop Manuel surreptitiously chastising him for not being tough enough to handle it will always be the benchmark for bizarre in Flushing.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

Gotta go with what happened to reliever Ken Sanders between innings one Sunday afternoon in 1975: “I was taking my warm up pitches and lost the return throw from John Stearns and it hit me directly in my right eye. I never touched it. It actually knocked me out. There was no action on the field at the time of the accident.”

Tim Ryder (MMO)

Do Mackey Sasser‘s yips count? I’d have to go with Matt Harvey‘s bladder infection due to holding in his pee. Only the Mets.

Sasser hit .297/.328/.416 from 1988 thru 1990. Once his head got the best of him, everything came crashing down. The conventional injuries didn’t help either.

Bre S. (That Mets Chick)

Weirdest Mets illness: Ike Davis, valley fever in 2012. Valley Fever is an infection that is released from the dirt in desert regions of the Southwest and is inhaled. It can be stirred up by construction and winds.

Fast forward to 2014 and Davis still complained about having Valley fever! Its mind boggling how that infection stayed with him throughout the years. “You have no energy, no nothing. It was definitely a weird one. It’s supposed to go away on its own, but when I had an X-ray last year, it showed I still had it. I’m hoping that’s over and done with.” – Ike Davis

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

It’s gotta be “Valley Fever,” for me…it’s got all the hallmarks of a Mets injury. It’s a disease that sounds fake, like it’s almost a parody, and also sounds like a cruel act of God.

Strangely enough, Ike’s other injury is high on the list too — the time the training staff had him wear a walking boot nonstop, and it turned out the boot was basically suffocating his ankle, and it turned into him missing the 2011 season and pretty much ended his career. That…that’s the Mets right there.

Mets Daddy

Jerry Blevins slipping over a curb and re-breaking his arm. Sure, you can understand his arm breaking when he was hit with a comebacker, but a professional athlete breaking the arm again slipping on a curb takes the cake.

What’s interesting here is we had no mention of Tom Glavine losing his front teeth in a cab ride. What’s interesting to note with him is that while he thought that to be heart breaking, he was not devastated after killing the 2007 Mets season. Speaking of cab rides, we should never forget Duaner Sanchez.

There are many, many more here to list. We all know them, especially those who have participated in these roundtables. They know much more than the injuries, which is yet another reason to visit their sites and read their quality work.