Seth Lugo

Mets Problem Isn’t Analytics, It’s The Wilpons

As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Mets owner Fred Wilpon does not want to hire a younger and more analytics driven executive for two reasons.  The first is he feels he will have a harder time connecting with that person.  The second and perhaps all the more baffling is the “thought among team officials that perhaps the Mets became too analytics driven in recent seasons under Sandy Alderson’s watch . . . .”

Taking the thought at face value, we really need to question which analytics the Mets are using to inform their decisions.

For starters, look at Asdrubal Cabrera.  Everyone knew he was no longer a shortstop, so that left the question over whether he should have been a second or third baseman heading into the 2018 season.

In 2017, Cabrera was a -6 DRS in 274.1 innings at second.  That should have come as no surprise as he was a -10 DRS the last time he saw extensive action at second base (2014).  Conversely, in his 350.1 innings at third last year, he had a 1 DRS.

Naturally, the Mets went with Cabrera at second this season where he has been an MLB worst -20 DRS.  That makes him not just the worst second baseman in all of baseball, it makes him the worst defensive infielder in all of baseball.

Of course, the Mets got there by acquiescing a bit to Cabrera’s preference to play second over third.  This was also the result of the team turning down a Paul Sewald for Jason Kipnis swap.  That deal was nixed over money.

With respect to Sewald, he was strong when the season began.  In April, he had a 1.91 ERA and a 0.805 WHIP.  Since that point, Sewald has a 5.73 ERA, a 1.485 WHIP, and multiple demotions to Triple-A.

As for Kipnis, he has struggled this year hitting .226/.313/.363.  It should be noted this was mostly due to a horrific April which saw him hit .178/.254/.243.  Since that tough start to the season, Kipnis has gotten progressively better.  Still, it is difficult to lose sleep over Kipnis even if the rejected trade put Cabrera at second and it led to the Mets signing Todd Frazier, who is hitting .217/.298/.368.

In addition to bringing Cabrera back into the fold, the Mets also brought back Jay Bruce after having traded the then impending free agent to the Cleveland Indians for Ryder Ryan.

At the time the Mets signed Bruce, they needed a center fielder.  The team already had Yoenis Cespedes in left, and once he returned from the disabled list, the team was going to have Michael Conforto in right.  Until the time Conforto was ready, the team appeared set with Brandon Nimmo in the short-term.

In 69 games in 2017, Nimmo hit .260/.379/.418.  In those games, Nimmo showed himself to be a real candidate for the leadoff spot on a roster without an obvious one, especially in Conforto’s absence.  With him making the league minimum and his having shown he could handle three outfield positions, he seemed like an obvious choice for a short term solution and possible someone who could platoon with Juan Lagares in center.

Instead, the Mets went with Bruce for $39 million thereby forcing Conforto to center where he was ill suited.  More than that, Bruce was coming off an outlier year in his free agent walk year.  Before that 2017 rebound season, Bruce had not had a WAR of at least 1.0 since 2013, and he had just one season over a 100 wRC+ in that same stretch.  In response to that one outlier season at the age of 30, the Mets gave Bruce a three year deal.

Still, that may not have been the worst contract handed out by the Mets this past offseason.  That honor goes to Jason Vargas.

The Mets gave a 35 year old pitcher a two year $16 million deal to be the team’s fifth starter despite the fact the team had real starting pitching depth.  At the time of the signing, the Mets had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, and Corey Oswalt as starting pitching depth.

Instead of using five of them and stashing four of them in Triple-A, the Mets opted to go with Vargas as the fifth starter.  Even better, they depleted their starting pitching depth by moving Gsellman and Lugo the to bullpen.  Of course, this had the added benefit of saving them money thereby allowing them to sign Anthony Swarzak, a 32 year old reliever with just one good season under his belt.

The Mets were rewarded with the decision to sign Vargas by his going 2-8 with an 8.75 ERA and a 1.838 WHIP.  He’s also spent three separate stints on the disabled list.

What’s funny about Vargasis he was signed over the objections of the Mets analytics department.  From reports, Vargas was not the only one.  Looking at that, you have to question just how anyone associated with the Mets could claim they have become too analytics driven.  Really, when you ignore the advice of those hired to provide analytical advice and support, how could you point to them as the problem?

They’re not.

In the end, the problem is the same as it always has been.  It’s the Wilpons.

They’re the ones looking for playing time for Jose Reyes at a time when everyone in baseball thinks his career is over.  They’re the ones not reinvesting the proceeds from David Wrights insurance policy into the team.  They’re the ones who have a payroll not commensurate with market size or World Series window.  They’re the ones rejecting qualified people for a job because of an 81 year year old’s inability to connect with his employees.

Really, you’re not going to find an analytical basis to defend making a team older, less versatile, more injury prone, and worse defensively.

What you will find is meddlesome ownership who thinks they know better than everyone.  That’s why they’re 17 games under .500 with declining attendance and ratings while saying the Yankees financial model is unsustainable at a time the Yankees are heading to the postseason again and the team has the highest valuation of any Major League team.

Mets Stake Claim to Fourth Place

In the Mets weekend series, they faced off against the Miami Marlins to determine who exactly was the worst team in the National League East.  With some guts and guile, the Mets showed it was in fact the Marlins.

In the series, we did see a lot of good from the Mets.  Corey Oswalt had another quality start even if he once again sputtered as he navigated the sixth and the third time through the lineup.  Noah Syndergaard racked up his eighth win of the year, and Zack Wheeler continued his great pitching winning his fifth straight start.

We also saw Michael Conforto continue this second half resurgence.  With his home run yesterday, he’s now hitting .307/.398/.533 with five doubles, four homers, and 11 RBI.  If we were to exrapolate those 21 games over a full 162 game season, he would hit 39 doubles and 31 homers.  That’s right around the pace he was last year when he suffered that brutal shoulder injury.

While Jacob Rhame took another step back, we saw Drew Smith, Tyler Bashlor, and Bobby Wahl pitch well out of the bullpen.  As the season winds to a close, we will have to see that trio get increased chances with the Mets limiting both the appearances and innings of Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, both of whom have been pitching better of late.

Moreover, we are watching Wilmer Flores earn a starting job with the Mets next year.  Since taking over the first base job in mid-June, he’s hitting .290/.337/.489 with 14 doubles, seven homers, and 26 RBI.  In a real surprise, he is getting stronger as the season progresses.

Still despite all that good, there are so many issues, including but not limited to the Mets having three tight games against a bad Marlins team just to win this series.

We have seen Devin Mesoraco continue to regress with him now having a 64 wRC+ since June 1st.  Moreover, he has been one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball with him being in the bottom 15 in the majors in pitch framing.  Really, there’s a reason why the Mets are just one game under .500 when he doesn’t catch and 16 games under .500 when he does.

Overall, like we saw on that botched double play on Saturday, the Mets defense continues to be horrendous.  Per DRS, at every position but third base and left field, they are in the bottom three defensively in the National League.  Up the middle, the Mets are the worst in the majors.  That also speaks to just how disappointing Amed Rosario‘s development has been.

That also goes towards the Mets continued employment of Jose Reyes, who is one of the worst players in baseball this year.  While his selling point this year was he was going to mentor Rosario, it has been a failure.  In almost every areas of Rosario’s game, he is worse.

Really, with the exception of isolated instances like the starting rotation, Flores, and Brandon Nimmo, this team is just worse across the board.

So yes, the Mets beat the Marlins, but in the end, who cares?  This continues to be a rudderless bad baseball team.

Wheeler Wins Fifth Straight

If you’re looking for reasons to continue watching this Mets team, Zack Wheeler and his emergence has to be near the top of the list.

For those who forget, Wheeler started this season in Triple-A, and he has built his way to arguably being the Mets second best starter. That trek started with a string seven inning performance in Marlins Park in his first MLB start of the season.

Tonight, he had another string seven inning outing at Marlins Park.

For the first four, it appeared he might no-hit a Marlins team who traded Justin Bour earlier in the day. As an aside, the Marlins are money for a better return. What a novel idea.

Martin Prado broke up what could have been the threat of a no-hitter with a fifth inning single. The Marlins got no momentum from that, and Wheeler kept the Marlins off the board for 6.2 innings.

After back-to-back strikeouts to lead off the bottom of the seventh, Rafael Ortega singled, and Miguel Rojas homered. That would cut the Mets lead to 4-2.

Wheeler got out of the inning unscathed, and he has now pitched at least seven innings in four of his last five starts. He’s also now won five straight starts.

He won tonight due to his dominance and the Mets bats getting going to the tune of six runs on 13 hits.

The first run was a two out rally started by a Jeff McNeil two out single. Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto followed with consecutive singles off Jose Urena to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead.

That lead grew to 4-0 in the sixth in a rally started by a Conforto leadoff walk. After a fielder’s choice, he scored on a Todd Frazier RBI single.

The rallied continued with the Mets eventually loading the bases. Wheeler wouldn’t get the run home leaving it to Amed Rosario to try to get a big two out base hit.

He would deliver hitting it just off of Starlin Castro. Frazier scored easily, and Austin Jackson scored just ahead of Kevin Plawecki getting nailed by Magneuris Sierra as he tried to go from first to third.

After the Rojas seventh inning homer, the Mets got the runs right back. Jackson hit a ground rule double setting up runners at second and third. Plawecki then delivered with a two RBI single.

Seth Lugo pitched a scoreless eighth. Initially, Jerry Blevins got that ball to start the ninth, but after he hit Derek Dietrich, Mickey Callaway went to Drew Smith who finished the game.

While Smith has not received much work, he had had finished four of the seven games he’s appeared with no saves.

With the win, the Mets took round one in the battle for the basement of the NL East, which depending on your perspective is a good or bad thing.

Game Recap: With his third inning single, Conforto has now reached safely in his last 24 road games.

Mets Players Weekend Nickname Alternates

Last year, Player’s weekend was a hit as fans got to see their favorite players wear fun jerseys featuring their nicknames on the back of their jerseys.  Believe it or not, some of those were nicknames were rejected for various reasons.

For example, Brandon Nimmo wanted to use his Twitter handle, You Found Nimmo, but MLB was afraid of copyright issues.  When it came to Kyle Seager, he wanted to go with “Corey’s Better.”  With that rejected, he paid homage to his brother Corey Seager by merely noting on his jersey he was “Corey’s Brother.”

Well, the Mets officially approved Player’s Weekend nicknames and jerseys have been released.  However, as noted with Nimmo, there were other names the players wanted which were rejected by MLB:

Tyler BashlorMickey, I’m Available To Pitch

Jose BautistaTrade Value Going, Going, Gone!

Jerry BlevinsOne Magic LOOGY

Jay BruceJason Bay

Michael Conforto – Shouldering The Load

Travis d’Arnaud – d’L

Jacob deGromFewest Wins 4 Cy Young Winner

Phillip EvansDFA TBA

Wilmer Flores – 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Todd Frazier Regrets, I’ve Joined The Mets

Robert GsellmanDon’t Care What You Think

Luis GuillormeAssistant to the Regional Manager

Austin Jackson2019 Opening Day CF

Juan LagaresOut For The Season

Seth Lugo – Quarterrican (That’s perfection; you don’t mess with that)

Steven MatzNot So Strong Island

Jeff McNeil2B/3B/OF

Devin Mesoraco – Harvey’s Better

Brandon Nimmo – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Corey OswaltVargas (figured it was the only way he would get a start)

Kevin Plawecki – Plawful

Jose ReyesMelaza Virus

Jacob RhameStay (Refers to his roster spot and glasses)

Amed Rosario – Mentor Wanted

Paul Sewald AAAAll Star

Dominic SmithWaist And Future Gone

Drew SmithMickey, I’m Available To Pitch (Yes, it’s a repeat of Bashlor.  They’re trying to prove a point.)

Anthony SwarzakStill Just One Good Season

Noah Syndergaard 60’6″ Away

Jason Vargas$16 Million Dollar Man

Bobby Wahl After All, I’m Your . . .

Zack WheelerFinally Good

David Wright – Hurts Here Doc

Mets Finally Score for deGrom

With Jacob deGrom entering today’s game with an MLB best 1.85 ERA and a career 1.99 ERA in day games, you knew he was going to completely shut down the Reds.

Even with him getting squeezed a bit by the home plate umpire leading to an increased pitch count, deGrom would dominate yet again.  In his six scoreless innings pitched, deGrom limited the Reds to just four hits and a walk while he struck out 1o.

Two of those four hits would come in the first inning with Phil Ervin and Scooter Gennett hitting back-to-back one out singles.  After Eugenio Suarez struck out, the Reds put on a play in an attempt to score a run.

Gennett broke for second, and he was supposed to stop when Devin Mesoraco threw through.  Gennett would go too far leaving him in position to get tagged out by Amed Rosario before Ervin could score.

While it was surprising the Mets made a good defensive play and took advantage of another team’s error, it was all the more surprising the Mets scored some runs for deGrom.  In fact, he would get eight runs of support, which was more than he received in any game he has had since the middle of June, which was a Mets game in Coors Field.

To put it in perspective, over his last four starts, the Mets scored six runs for him.  In entire Month of July, he received 10 runs of support.  Basically, today was an extreme and welcome outlier.

The first run came in the second inning when Austin Jackson doubled home Michael Conforto from first.  Conforto and Jackson would once again take part in the scoring in the fifth.

Conforto would get a one out hustle double, and he would come home to score on a Brandon Nimmo RBI double.  Nimmo scored on Jackon’s second RBI single of the game.

At that point, it was 5-0 Mets as in the previous inning, Reds starter Robert Stephenson loaded the bases by intentionally walking Mesoraco to pitch to deGrom.  deGrom would help his own cause by walking on four pitches, and Rosario would tack on another run with a sacrifice fly.

At 5-0 in the fifth, deGrom had nearly a half month’s worth of run support.  After six, it was up to the bullpen to make sure they didn’t blow a big lead for a pitcher everyone on the Mets owed a win.

Seth Lugo, Jerry Blevins, and Robert Gsellman did their job by pitching three scoreless to give deGrom the rare win.

The use of Gsellman was certainly odd as the Mets rallied in the eighth to tack on three runs.  Again, that was the result of Conforto and Jackson at work.  Conforto, who walked, scored with Wilmer Flores on Nimmo’s double, and once again, Nimmo scored on a Jackson RBI base hit.  This one was a double.

Speaking of Nimmo, this was a nice bounceback game for him with his going 3-for-5 with three runs, three doubles, and three RBI.

All-in-all, this was a very good game for the Mets, and it was the type of game which will hopefully get deGrom that Cy Young Award he so richly deserves.

Game Notes: A day after Mickey Callaway said he isn’t pressured by anyone, specifically the Wilpons, to play Jose Reyes, Reyes announced he wants to return to the Mets next season.

Calm Down on the Callaway Criticism

In yesterday’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Atlanta Braves, people had a field day criticizing manager Mickey Callaway for the perceived errors the first time manager made.  Of course, all these criticisms first ignored how the Mets lost because the Braves at that much better, especially over this injury ravaged Mets team.  Moreover, the perceived errors were not really errors in and of themselves:

Error No.1 – The Starting Lineup

Considering how when he had the appearance of autonomy, Callaway buried Jose Reyes on the bench, we can see he lost some of his control, especially after Reyes complained publicly through the press.  Overall, Reyes is in the lineup because ownership wants him there (and fans won’t boo him like he deserves).  As for Brandon Nimmo, he’s been scuffling lately, and he could probably use a day off.

Error No. 2 – Going Too Long with Oswalt

Entering the seventh inning yesterday, Corey Oswalt was dealing.  At that point, he had allowed just one earned on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts.  He was only at 75 pitches, and he had just made fairly quick work of the Braves in the sixth inning.  It was the bottom of the lineup, and he was due up second.

Considering how well he was pitching, how well he has pitched, and this being a period to evaluate players, the mistake would have been pulling Oswalt.  He should have started that inning.  It’s just unfortunate he gave up the two run homer to Ender Inciarte to lose the lead.

Error No. 3 – Double Switching Nimmo into the Game

Looking at the Mets bench, the player you most wanted up in the bottom of the seventh was Nimmo.  If you are going to burn a bench player, you might as well move the pitcher’s spot as far away as possible to at least give yourself the chance to let Paul Sewald pitch more than just the end of the seventh.

Ultimately, do we really care if it mean Austin Jackson and not Jose Bautista came out of that game?  Sure, Jackson is hitting better, but it’s Bautista who you are showcasing in the hopes he snaps out of this funk and once again becomes a trade piece.

Error No. 4 – Not Waiting for the Pinch Hitter to be Announced

Before criticizing Callaway on this one, ask yourself one key question: Who would you rather face?  Ryan Flaherty, a career .218/.288/.350 hitter or Adam Duvall, a former All Star with two 30 home run seasons under his belt?  If you have a brain cell remaining, it’s Flaherty every single day of the week.

Well, Callaway checked to make sure Duvall wasn’t announced, and he went with Sewald over Jerry Blevins, who was warming, to enter the game.  By doing that, Callaway helped pressure Brian Snitker to put up the far worse hitter.

Seriously, how is that a bad thing?

As for the narrative spewed on SNY, it’s false.  Just completely false.

This is the National League.  A manager is not going to burn two hitters in a tie game in the seventh inning.  You don’t have that luxury.  Knowing that, Callaway was proactive and got the matchup he wanted.  Really, Mets fans should be happy he had the foresight to say he wanted to face Flaherty over Duvall.

And with Callaway, we know this is a strategy he likes to utilize.  After all, this is not the first time he has done it, and with this happening two times, we can expect to see this happen again.  That’s a good thing.

As an aside, let’s remember the thoughts each of the people criticizing Callaway have had:

Maybe we should pump the brakes on taking what this group says as gospel and look for them more for entertainment.

Also, it should be noted, doing it that way allowed Callaway let Sewald face the pinch hitter an Ronald Acuna before going to Blevins for the left-handed Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and Nick Markakis.

Error No. 5 – Double Switching McNeil out of the Game

The Jeff McNeil decision is a little tricky.  On the one hand, you want him to get as many reps as he possibly can in the field and at the plate.  Yes, his turn in the lineup did come up in the ninth, but it was really unlikely to happen.  To that extent, double switching him out to get some length from Seth Lugo did make sense on paper.

Of course, the real anger here was Reyes stayed in the lineup.  That’s understandable, but remember this is a player being not just forced on the manager, but also into the lineup.  Reyes’ strangehold is such the Mets are challenging plays where he is clearly out because Reyes demands it:

Summation

During the game, Callaway showed he was a guy who was balancing both playing the guys he is told to play while trying to develop young players and winning games.  It’s unfortunate Oswalt couldn’t get an out in the seventh, and it’s a shame Tyler Bashlor gave up the game winning homer in the 10th.

When it comes to Bashlor, there’s your areas of criticism.  Callaway is still feeling his way through bullpen management, and even now, he’s still leaning on veteran arms like Lugo over ones like Bashlor.

As for the other decisions?  Give him credit for being willing to buck trends and try to dictate match-ups he wants.  Allow him to grow on the job and learn from his mistakes, but admit this wasn’t one of them.  Overall, remember the level of interference he has.

Ultimately, remember this is a guy who gets his guys to play.  In this three game set, the Mets went toe-to-toe with a much better Braves team, and they nearly took the series.  Give credit where it is due.

More importantly, don’t distract from the real problem with the Mets – ownership is not spending and is putting an inferior product on the field.

Game Notes: Once again, Luis Guillorme did not get into the game.  Part of the reason being is the Mets have said they do not see him as more than a pinch hitter or late inning replacement.  Instead, Reyes played the whole game while Todd Frazier, who originally did not start because he was just coming off the disabled list, came on late shifting Reyes to second.

Wheeler Pitching Like He Wants To Get Traded

Zack Wheeler took to the mound three years to the date he and Wilmer Flores were almost traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez. While we got to see Flores’ reaction to the trade, we never did quite see Wheeler’s reaction.

At the time, he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery; a result of him being diagnosed with a torn UCL on the eve what would be a magical 2015 season.  Wheeler would sit down with Sandy Alderson to tell him he didn’t want to leave.  He wanted to be a part of this team and whatever they could do next.

Even in this lost season, Wheeler has consistently maintained he wants to be a Met.

Well, if Wheeler really wants to be a Met, then he needs to stop pitching this well as Major League Baseball heads towards the trade deadline.

Wheeler completed dominated a Pirates team in the thick of the Wild Card race.

Wheeler would put on a show pitching six scoreless against a Pirates team in the Wild Card race.  He would pitch six scoreless in an all around dominant effort with him walking out just one batter and striking out seven.

With the Mets giving him Jacob deGrom like run support, Wheeler would take matters into his own hands.

After a Luis Guillorme two out single, Wheeler would double him home to give him a 1-0 lead. This would make the second straight game he has hit a double, which would make him a much hitter than Jose Reyes:

In the top of the seventh, Mickey Callaway would have a decision to make.  The Mets had runners on second and third with two outs and Wheeler’s spot coming up.  Even with Wheeler being one of the better hitters in the lineup, Callaway opted to go with Michael Conforto.

Conforto would not start the game because he jammed his thumb.  Even with the jammed thumb, the Pirates were scared enough to intentionally walk him to face Amed Rosario.  Rosario didn’t come through, but he Mets bullpen would.

First, Seth Lugo pitched two scoreless before giving the ball to Anthony Swarzak, who converted his second save chance with the Mets.  With respect to Swarzak, he’s been much better since Jeurys Familia was traded.  There may be any number of factors, including his getting fully healthy and his making adjustments.  Whatever the case, he’s looked and been dominant, giving the Mets a real weapon in the ninth inning.

But the story was Wheeler, who for the first time in his career, has won three consecutive starts.  In those games, he has a 2.61 ERA, 1.016 WHIP, and a 4.25 K/BB ratio.  This has left the Mets with a dilemma.  Do you keep him and have him take a step further forward next year, or do you cash in now?

Given how he wants to be here, and how he’s pitching, it may just make sense to keep him.

Game Notes:  With the split, this marks the first time the Mets did not lose consecutive series since May 15 – 20 when they split a two game series with the Blue Jays and swept the Diamondbacks.

Mets Young Bullpen No Relief

Heading into this series, Mickey Callaway said how he wanted to get a better look at his younger relievers and put them in higher pressure spots. With Jason Vargas starting for the Mets, you knew today was going to be the day.

That was even the case with Michael Conforto hitting a first inning three run homer.

Vargas would get through the first unscathed, but he would allow David Freese to hit a two run homer. This would be the first two of the five runs Freese knocked in on the day.

While Vargas somehow got out of a fourth inning bases loaded jam, Callaway would lift him after he issued a one out walk to Jordan Luplow. At that point, Vargas had already thrown 84 pitches, and the Pirates were about to go through the lineup a third time.

First up was Seth Lugo, who wasn’t as sharp as he’s been all season. After loading the bases, he allowed a two out two RBI single to Freese to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead.

One of the two runs were charged to Vargas, who somehow lowered his ERA after allowing three in 4.1 innings. His season ERA is now 8.13.

After his two-thirds of an inning, the Mets got him off the hook in the sixth in what was a rally that most fell short.

After back-to-back walks to Conforto and Jose Bautista, Jeff McNeil laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt, which after a Edgar Santana error, loaded the bases with no outs.

Kevin Plawecki struck out, Jose Reyes lined out, and Phillip Evans grounded out.

Fortunately, the Mets would inadvertently score on the Reyes line out. On the play, Conforto faked down the line leading to Luplow trying the ball nowhere near home. As it rattled around the backstop, Conforto did score.

In the bottom of the inning, Tyler Bashlor would get himself into trouble by loading the bases, partially due to him walking two batters. Bashlor got out of the jam by getting Josh Harrison to hit into an inning ending double play.

After that, Bashlor would pitch a scoreless seventh.

Jacob Rhame struck out two in a scoreless eighth leaving it up to Tim Peterson to get the Mets into extra innings.

Harrison led off with an infield single. Amed Rosario made an incredible play to stop the ball, but he couldn’t get it to first with him on his backside. Gregory Polanco then ripped a line drive through the shift to set up runners at the corners with no outs.

After walking the bases loaded to set up an out at any base, Freese hit a deep fly to right to end the game 5-4.

Overall, there as some good work from these young Mets arms, but there was still speed bumps, even from those who pitched scoreless innings. Given where the Mets are, the team starting to get a real look at them made this a good game for the team.

Game Notes: The Mets played one man short as right before the game Asdrubal Cabrera was traded to the Phillies.

Mets Will Have At Least $64 Million To Spend In Free Agency

As a second straight Mets season has completely fallen apart, there has been discussions about whether the Mets should blow the whole thing up. Those discussions have been ramped up with Yoenis Cespedes being out for at least 10 months with his having double heel surgery.

What’s odd about that is the Mets arguably have the best starting rotation in baseball with the top 1-2 combination with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

Brandon Nimmo has played like an All Star caliber player, and lately Michael Conforto has returned to his All Star form.

The Mets have two potent weapons with Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo.

There’s also good talent close to the majors with Peter Alonso, Justin Dunn, and Andres Gimenez. Of course, Jeff McNeil was just called-up.

There’s talent present which could make the Mets winners in 2020 or even 2019. However, for that to happen, the Mets will need to add some pieces.

Fortunately for the Mets, this could go down as one of the most consequential free agent classes in Major League history. Teams will be lining up to throw money to Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel, Clayton Kershaw, and A.J. Pollock.

Given all that has happened, the Mets will have the money to be competitors on the free agent market.  In fact, they are going to be quite flush with cash.

Expiring Contracts

Even if the Mets do not trade anyone who is due money past this season, the Mets will have money freed up because there are a number of contracts expiring after this season:

With respect to Mesoraco, there was an undisclosed amount of cash provided by the Reds when they obtained Harvey in exchange for Mesoraco.  While Mesoraco is due $13.12 million this year, it was Harvey’s $5.625 million salary that was part of the Opening Day roster.  Therefore, for the sake of calcualting how much money will be available, Harvey’s salary is used as the placeholder.

With the Harvey/Mesoraco caveat, the Mets will have $32.1 million coming off the books just from contracts currently on the books expiring after the season.

Subtotal $32.1 million

Familia Trade

With the Mets trading Jeurys Familia, the team not only was able to acquire two prospects in Bobby Wahl and William Toffey, both of whom will be earning de minimis minor league salaries, but the team was also able to remove Familia’s $7.925 million from the books with the team getting some cash savings this season with the Athletics taking on the remainder of Familia’s 2018 salary.

Subtotal $40.025

Insurance Money

David Wright has not played a Major League game since May 27, 2016.  With each passing day and each additional set-back, it becomes increasingly unlikely we will ever see Wright play in another game for the Mets.  Now when it comes to Wright, there are two factors at play which would give the team an avenue to spend more money this offseason.

First and foremost, Wright’s salary goes from $20 million in 2018 to $15 million in 2019.  Right off the bat, that gives the Mets an additional $5 million to spend this offseason.

Additionally, Wright’s contract is fully insured with insurance paying 75% of Wright’s salary.  As a result, the Mets will have an additional $11.25 million available to spend due to Wright’s inability to play.

But Wright is not the only injured player insured.  In addition to Wright, Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract is also insured.  That’s important in light of the announcement Cespedes will have double heel surgery and will be out at least 10 months.  For what it’s worth, the Mets suggested he may be out longer than that.

Remember, Cespedes is out from 10 months from whenever he has the surgery.  Not from the date of the press conference.  With that in mind and for the sake of being conservative in the estimates, lets assume Cespedes is out for half the season.

With the Mets saying there is insurance that picks up over 50% of the salary owed to Cespedes, that means, the Mets will be able to recoup roughly 50% of a  half’s seasons salary.  With Cespedes due $29 million next year, insurance will pay at least $7.25 million.  With each passing day that number will grow.

When combining the monies covered by insurance for Wright and Cespedes, the team will have an additional $18.5 million available to spend.  When you include the $5 million drop in Wright’s salary, that number is $23.5 million.

Subtotal $63.525

Other Factors

As noted by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, ownership says it considers Wright’s contract part of the payroll, and the team does not reinvest the money saved into baseball operations.  Putting aside what that means in terms of money available for a second, what this does mean is the team has saved and socked away $15 million of the $20 million due and owing to Wright this season.

The same likely applies to whatever the team can and will recover from insurance from Cespedes’ $29 million contract this season.

Additionally, the team saw savings of roughly $3 million for trading Familia, and they will likely see the same savings when other players are traded for the roster.  Presumably, since that money is not being invested into baseball operations this season that would make that money available for 2019 and beyond.

For a moment, we can presume for a moment the $3 million saved on Familia can offset the $3 million pay increase due to Jay Bruce next season. Of course, the pay raises due in arbitration and the like will very easily be offset by the money saved on the Wright and Cespedes insurance policies.  Really, there should be money to spare.

What This All Means

Looking at the Mets as currently constituted, they have tw0-third of their outfield set with Conforto and Nimmo.  On the infield, they have Todd Frazier and Amed Rosario.  They will also have Wilmer Flores, T.J. Rivera, and Jeff McNeil, who could become part of a time sharing at either first or second.  If he can get healthy, the team could have Bruce at first or right depending on the development of Alonso, or yes, even Dominic Smith.

All told, this means the Mets have the payroll room and the spots on the roster to add at least one player of significance.  Perhaps even two.

With that in mind, with the Mets having $63.525 million to spend this offseason, there is no excuse why this team shouldn’t aggressively pursue Machado and Harper.  They should come away with one of them plus an additional piece to help take them over the top like a Kimbrel, Pollock, or yes, even a Daniel Murphy (first base only).

If the Mets do that, this is a potential World Series contender, especially with this starting pitching.  If the team goes out and does this, the fans will pack Citi Field to the gills.

The time for excuses is over.  It’s time to act like a big market club with a chance to win a World Series.

 

 

 

Mets Future Looked Bright Tonight

Today was one of those games where you can see how this Mets team could be really good next year.

Zack Wheeler has clearly turned a corner in his career as evidenced by yet another terrific start tonight.

Through seven innings, he limited the Padres to two earned on four hits and one walk despite striking out just three.

The damage could’ve been worse, but Devin Mesoraco made a heads up play to throw to third on what was an odd decision on replay:

Unlike Jacob deGrom last night, Wheeler was rewarded for his good start because the team scored runs for him.

The driving force of the lineup was once again Michael Conforto, who has been great since the All Star Break.

In the game, Conforto was 2-for-4 with two runs, a homer, and two RBI.

The first run he scored was in the first. He hit a ball hard to the opposite field. Third baseman Christian Villanueva dove to knock it down, but he had no play on Conforto. Conforto would then score on the ensuing Mesoraco three RBI double.

The first runner who crossed the plate on that double was surprise leadoff hitter Amed Rosario.

Rosario has been slowly improving of late, and tonight was another step in the right direction. Not only did he draw a first inning leadoff walk against Padres starter Eric Lauer, but in his next at-bat, he would hit a triple.

Asdrubal Cabrera brought him home with an RBI single giving the Mets a 6-2 lead.

Even with Wheeler dealing, Conforto mashing, and Rosario setting the table, perhaps the biggest news was Jeff McNeil.

Before the game, in a flurry of moves, both he and Phillip Evans would be called-up with Yoenis Cespedes going on the DL and Ty Kelly being designated for assignment.

McNeil would finally make his MLB debut in the eighth. He pinch hit for Evans, and he hit the first pitch he saw for a single.

Despite the Mets assertions to the contrary, McNeil stayed in the game to play third where he would catch a pop out to record the final out of the Mets 6-3 win.

So yes, while this has been a dreadful season, the Mets do have the pieces to be a good team next year. We saw a glimpse of that tonight.

Game Notes: Seth Lugo allowed one run over the final two innings to preserve the win. The Mets still have made no GM or owner available to answer questions about Cespedes injury or second opinion. Instead, they let Mickey Callaway answer questions about it in the post-game.