Truth be told, Steve Cohen has been spending at a level no one anticipated. We should have anticipated there would be backlash to that with Major League Baseball trying to establish a system to discourage spending to build a team.
To some degree, you have to give the other owners credit. They were tight-lipped last offseason when the New York Mets free agent spree was highlighted by Max Scherzer and Starling Marte in addition to the Mets trading for Chris Bassitt.
They bit their tongues as the Mets signed Justin Verlander, José Quintana, David Robertson, and Koudai Senga in addition to re-signing Edwin Díaz and Brandon Nimmo. It’s fair to assume they weren’t happy, but they didn’t react publicly. Then, Carlos Correa happened.
Cohen and the Mets initially made a too late push for Correa, and Correa signed with the San Francisco Giants. To be fair, the Giants offered more than the Mets were willing to offer. If you were a skeptic, you were left believing Scott Boras was using Cohen and the Mets to extract every last dollar from the Giants.
After that, Correa “failed” his physical leading the Giants to try to renegotiate the deal. Boras being Boras treated this as an opportunity to re-open the bidding for Correa with the Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers re-entering the picture. In the end, it would be the Mets who signed Correa to a 12 year $315 million deal.
This is what caused the rest of baseball to snap. In an article from The Athletic by Evan Drellich, the other owners, who did not go on record, spoke about this disdain about how Cohen has conducted his business this offseason. There were a few choice quotes speaking about how Cohen was not stopped by control measures put in place for him to not outspend what other owners and markets were willing to do.
Note, the choice of the word willing isn’t of able. That choice was highlighted by an unnamed source who said, “There’s no collusion. But . . . there was a reason nobody for years ever went past $300 million. You still have partners, and there’s a system.” Another choice quote was, “We’ve got somebody with three times the median payroll and has no care whatsoever for the long-term of these contracts, in terms of the risk associated with any of them.”
Essentially, owners don’t like or feeling comfortable going to the lengths Cohen has been willing to go. That’s not the same as can’t go. They don’t want to go there, and as Drellich astutely points out, owners are not happy Cohen is raising the price of player contracts.
This is much in the same way the Wilpons restricted player salaries. They had a team in the largest market in the world, and they couldn’t spend on players. Having a very large market out on a player suppressed player salaries, which is why other owners had zero issues with the Wilpons.
They didn’t care about the psyche of Mets fans or what not having a large market non-competitive for all but two years in a decade was doing to the growth of the sport. All they cared about is players were cheaper. They left money and growth at the table to make their bottom line better. Now, they’re faced with the choice of spending a little more to be competitive, or as we see with the Tampa Bay Rays, find real ways to be competitive other than artificially suppressing player salaries.
Make no mistake here, the other 29 owners didn’t give a damn about their fans, especially Mets fans. It was all about their profit margin, which is what Cohen is directly impacting despite their efforts to stand in the way. In the end, not one fan should care what they think because they certainly didn’t care about Mets fans when the Wilpons were actively destroying baseball.
Before the season, there were 60 bold predictions made heading into the New York Mets 60th season. Here is a look back at how those bold predictions worked out:
1. The New York Mets will win the 2022 World Series.
While they won 101 games, they collapsed late in the season, and they would lose in three games to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card round.
2. Howie Rose will retire after the season. The Mets have already tabbed their replacement in Jake Eisenberg, and Rose could not pass up the opportunity to go out calling a Mets World Series victory.
Fortunately, Howie has not announced his retirement.
3. Rose will return in some limited fashion to SNY and will be a fill-in replacement in 2023 and beyond.
Lindor did have a huge second year, but a broken finger cost him any chance of winning the award.
5. Dominic Smith will force his way into the lineup. Yes, he’s battling with J.D. Davis and Robinson Cano for the DH spot, but like he did in 2019 and 2020, he’s going to force his way into the everyday lineup and not relinquish his spot.
As it turned out, Smith was not given a real shot to be the DH. Not only did he not force his way into the lineup, but he was demoted to Triple-A, and he was not called up even with the expanded rosters. He was non-tendered after the season.
6. Edwin Diaz will be an All-Star. Diaz has been an every other year pitcher in his career, and following that pattern, this is his year.
Diaz was an All-Star.
7. The Mets All-Stars this season will be Diaz, Lindor, and Max Scherzer.
Diaz was the only All-Star from this group. The other Mets All-Stars were Pete Alonso, Starling Marte, and Jeff McNeil.
It started that way, but deGrom wasn’t quite as sharp when he returned. He did not receive any votes.
9. Jeff McNeil will finish the season as the left fielder. That is an injury prone outfield, and McNeil will eventually be forced to move out there.
As it turned out, he finished the season as the right fielder, but he moved back to second when Marte returned from injury for the postseason.
10. Robinson Cano will reclaim a starting job. We forget that when Cano played he was actually good in the field. If the outfield is as injury prone as we think, we will eventually play almost every day at second or DH.
Wow, this one was way off the mark and couldn’t have been more wrong.
It was the opposite for Bassitt. He was strong all season until the very end.
12. Starling Marte is going to have a fast start and quickly become a fan favorite. When he’s snubbed at All-Star time, fans are going to be livid.
Marte was a fan favortite, and Mets fans would not let him be snubbed with their voting him in as a starter.
13. Mark Vientos will have a thrilling MLB debut. Vientos’ bat is arguably Major League ready, and he’s going to get some run during some point of the season as a third baseman or DH. He may not relinquish a spot.
For whatever which reason, the Mets were reluctant all year to give him a shot. After the Darin Ruf trade disaster, he finally got a shot in a pennant race and was less then thrilling.
14. Brett Baty will be moved at the trade deadline. With the emergence of Vientos and the ground ball problems, the Mets feel comfortable moving him for that big piece at the trade deadline.
Baty was not moved, and he would be called up to be the team’s everyday third baseman until his own season ending injury.
15. The Mets everyday catcher is not on the Opening Day roster. At some point, the Mets will swing a deal or call up Francisco Alvarez to take over as the everyday catcher.
With his ankle injury, Álvarez was only called up to DH late in the season. Tomas Nido did supplant James McCann as the starter.
16. The Philadelphia Phillies will be the Mets main contenders. Last year, the Atlanta Braves were dead in the water until the Mets were too injured. The Mets won’t do that again this year, and the Phillies pitching and hitters will give people more of a run than we think.
Well, the Phillies won the pennant, so this was only true to that extent. However, the Mets missed their every chance to bury the Braves and would eventually collapse.
This was very true in June. It was not true at all after that.
18. Tylor Megill will last the entire season in the rotation. Now that he’s here, it is going to be difficult to remove him from the rotation. If need be, the Mets will go to a six man rotation to keep him in the majors.
Megill had a good run as a starter until he was injured. He returned late in the season and moved to the bullpen. He is likely in the mix for the rotation next season.
19. Carlos Carrasco will rebound and will pitch like he did with Cleveland, but he will not make more than 20 starts.
Shockingly, not only did Carrasco rebound, but he also made 29 starts.
20. Trevor Williams will become a huge part of the Mets bullpen as he becomes more of a fastball/slider pitcher.
Williams was a vital part of this team all season.
21. Steve Cohen will purchase SNY during the course as the 2022 season as the Wilpons are scared off by the increasing rights deals with streamers.
This did not happen.
22. The Mets will have multiple Gold Glove winners with Lindor and Marte.
The Mets did not have any winners with only Nido being a finalist. In terms of the voting, there were multiple Mets who were snubbed despite excellent defensive numbers.
23. Hefner will get interviews for managerial positions with other teams after this season.
His name has not surfaced as a managerial candidate.
24. So will Eric Chavez.
Neither has him.
25. The Mets will not have any player at DH for more than 40 games this season.
This was very close to being true. J.D. Davis was a DH in 41 games before the team mercifully got rid of him. After the trade deadline, Daniel Vogelbach was the DH in 46 games.
26. J.D. Davis will make multiple relief appearances for the Mets this season.
He did not.
While Rodriguez had his moments, he had an 87 ERA+ making his largely true.
28. None of the Mets outfielders will play over 135 games this season.
To our collective surprise, Brandon Nimmo played a career high 151 games. Mark Canha would play 140.
For a one week stretch, when Plummer hit that ninth inning homer against the Phillies, Mets fans did fall in love with him before he stopped hitting as a part time DH. No Mets fan paid any attention to Lee.
30. Mark Canha will play more games than any other Mets outfielder, but he will have the lowest WAR out of all the regular outfielders.
Canha played fewer games than Nimmo, but he did have the lowest WAR among outfielders.
31. There will be an issue over Marcus Stroman not receiving a video tribute when the Chicago Cubs visit the Mets in September.
There wasn’t any issues with Stroman during the season, and he did not pitch against the Mets this year.
32. Old Timers’ Day will have one team wearing the 1986 Mets jerseys and the other team wearing the black jerseys.
That did not happen.
Sadly, this was true.
34. The loudest ovation on Old Timers’ Day will go to Piazza. The second loudest will go to Nolan Ryan, who will be a surprise attendee.
It was difficult to ascertain who got the loudest ovation which was a great thing.
35. The defensive highlight of the season will come from Luis Guillorme.
This award probably goes to McNeil for robbing the Oneil Cruz homer, but Guillorme had more than his fair share of highlights.
36. Pete Alonso will take a step back defensively, and he will see more time at DH than initially expected.
Alonso took a big step back defensively, but the Mets hesitated to give him more time at DH even to give him rest late in the season.
37. A week or two into the season, we will hear some rumblings about Michael Conforto looking to return to the Mets. He won’t return, and likely, he will not sign with anyone until after the Major League draft.
There were some rumblings about Conforto, but he wasn’t tied with the Mets. He also did not sign with any team.
38. Some team will crack the frequency on the pitch calling device, and we will eventually know it is them because they will be the surprise team of the 2022 season. It won’t be the Mets.
We heard nothing on that front, but we should give this one time.
39. Mets fans will actually enjoy the Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts this season.
Nope, we didn’t, and it didn’t help that David Cone was saying Mets fans would complain about them not being GKR.
40. Showalter will be the 2022 NL Manager of the Year, and it might be unanimous.
41. Seth Lugo will return to his dominant form, but he will only be a one inning reliever. The multiple inning role will be assumed by Williams.
This one was actually true.
42. The Tom Seaver statue will be perfect.
This one should’ve been true. However, Paul Lukas of Uniwatch found the flaw.
Smith was well on his way until injury. May did not have a great year, but that was mostly due to injury. It should be noted he stepped up late in the season and in the postseason.
44. People will talk about how Scherzer isn’t what they thought he’d be and the contract was a mistake. Those people will be idiots.
With Scherzer dealing with an oblique injury and faltering against the Braves and Padres, this ultimately proved true.
45. The Mets are going to have a monster second half with them running away with the division.
The Mets did have a monster second half until they faltered against the weakest September schedule. Truth is they should have run away with the division.
46. With the Toronto Blue Jays winning the division, the Mets are going to make a push to get their unvaccinated players vaccinated to ensure their availability for the World Series.
The Blue Jays made the postseason. With them and the Mets losing in the Wild Card round, this was not remotely an issue.
47. Jeurys Familia will receive a tribute video when he returns to Citi Field, and there will be a mix of cheers and boos with probably more boos.
It was a chilly reception.
48. The Wild Card round will be a complete dud and fans will be clamoring for the return of the winner-take-all Wild Card Game.
So far, fans seems to be unhappy with the postseason changes.
49. We will see David Peterson bounced around between starting and relieving due to the injury issues with the Mets starting staff. He will struggle for it.
Peterson did quite well even if he had some struggles, and he stayed in the rotation for the most part.
Holderman emerged as a quality relief option, but he would be traded for Vogelbach. Szapucki was moved to the bullpen with Syracuse with an eye towards using him in that role. He too would be traded for a platoon DH option (Ruf). The Mets only added Mychael Givens at the deadline while espousing they liked what they had.
This proved true with Nido finally taking over full duties at the very end of the season.
52. No New York baseball player will sign an in-season extension. That includes deGrom and Nimmo, and it also includes Aaron Judge.
True, but Diaz was signed before the start of free agency.
53. There will be no negative articles written about Showalter this season even during a time in the season where the Mets slump (as even the best teams in baseball always do).
True even as his team collapsed.
54. Taijuan Walker will make the fewest starts of anyone in the Mets pitching rotation.
Walker tied for the second most starts. deGrom would actually make the fewest starts.
55. The Mets will have a no-hitter this season, but it will not be from a starting pitcher going all nine innings.
On April 29, the Co-No happened.
56. This will be the last Major League season with nine inning double headers. We will see the return of seven inning double headers in 2023.
This likely will not happen.
There was no such announcment, but there was the announcement of Willie Mays and Keith Hernandez having their numbers retired.
58. Mets fans will not care about the Apple TV game, but they will be absolutely livid about the game on Peacock. Of course, MLB will not care one iota about the blowback.
MLB did not care about the lack of quality with the games, and honestly, while there were complaints, Mets fans didn’t complain nearly as much about the streaming games as you’d anticipate.
59. Showalter is going to get Guillorme in a lot of games for late inning defense.
It actually proved to be more than just that. Showalter got Guillorme into the lineup due to his glove.
60. To reiterate, the Mets will win the World Series, and they will not have to wait another three decades for their next World Series.
To reiterate, I’m an idiot, and I’ll probably make the same prediction next year.
Looking at the New York Mets, there’s surprisingly a lot of work to do for a 101 win roster. Aside from having to completely rebuild a pitching staff, the Brandon Nimmo free agency complicates matters.
With Nimmo a free agent, the Mets need to re-sign him or get creative (which never ends well). Aside from that, re-signing Nimmo of not, the Mets have to address their relative lack of power.
On both of these fronts, there are rumors the Mets have interest in Trea Turner. While Turner is a great player, it doesn’t make much sense.
Look, Turner is a great player, and if you have an opportunity to add him to your roster, you do it. However, you have to ask why Turner fits with the Mets and whether the money can be better invested (i.e. Nimmo).
Start with Francisco Lindor being entrenched at short. Lindor is younger and a better defender. You’re not moving him for Turner leading to find him another position. With Turner being 29 and already declining defensively, that’s probably a good idea anyway.
In terms of CF, Turner hasn’t played the position since 2016. That effectively means he’s not an option there. This is also where things get slightly complicated for the Mets.
Arguably, the versatility of Jeff McNeil permits the signing of Turner. However, that may create more problems than it solves.
Turner has never played third in his career, and the Mets seem resolute in never playing McNeil there again. As a result, this does nothing to solve the Mets third base issues (which may eventually be Brett Baty anyway).
Turner sparingly played second in 2021 and was quite good. That would force McNeil to left or right, which is also fine because he’s a slightly above average corner outfielder.
Moving McNeil to left also is what causes a problem for the Mets.
Shifting McNeil to a corner spot forces Starling Marte to center. That is something the Mets specifically sought to avoid when they signed Marte. In fact, if that was their plan, they would’ve had Nimmo play right field last year.
Marte was already declining defensively in center, and his sprint rate was dropping. Moreover, he’s a bit injury prone making center a problematic position for him for the long term.
This would also have the Mets looking to play Mark Canha everyday again. Playing everyday goes to the heart of the Mets power issue.
Canha slugged .403 last year and has slugged .397 over the last three years. As a fourth outfielder/platoon option, he’s phenomenal depth. As an everyday player, there are some issues.
On the power front, Turner would solve their problems a bit even if he is not who is was in 2020 when he posted career bests in exit velocity and barrels. As an aside, his exit velocities have trended down since that 2020 season.
Keep in mind, Turner will be 30. He’s nearing the end of his prime, and he’s already showing some signs of decreased production. No, this does not mean his prime is over or that he won’t be great.
Rather, it’s a warning. We don’t know how well he’ll age or how many years remain in his prime. We just know he’s showing signs he should move off short sooner rather than later and that the power has a very slight dip.
Taking it all into account, the Mets have to ask whether Turner is worth it. Arguably, signing him means they part ways with one of Nimmo or Jacob deGrom. Maybe both.
Moreover, while it helps with the power (and certainly the speed), the Mets have to ask if that’s enough. That does double when you consider Nimmo is the only everyday CF on the market. Does signing Turner over Nimmo actually make the Mets better?
Of course, we shouldn’t discount that this is Steve Cohen. If he can sign deGrom, Nimmo, and Turner, he will. If he can do that, the Mets would be scary, and you’ll be hard pressed to come up with reasons why they won’t win the World Series.
Short of signing all three, it would seem Turner makes the least amount of sense for the Mets especially considering the real gaps in the rotation and center.
Billy Eppler joined Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman on a New York Post podcast to discuss the New York Mets offseason plans. In reviewing the podcast, Eppler didn’t say anything really all the surprising, which we should expect from a seasoned front office executive.
The Mets want Edwin Diaz to return. They also want Brandon Nimmo, but if they can’t keep him they will consider Starling Marte in center. They want and can keep Jacob deGrom. Basically, everything you expect is in there inclusive of Eppler saying he is in charge of the baseball operations.
That’s where things get a little dicey based on past performance.
In 2014, Jerry Dipoto built a Los Angeles Angels team which finished atop the American League West division before they were swept in the ALDS by the Kansas City Royals. Unfortunately for him, he clashed with Mike Scioscia, and he lost leading to him resigning the following season. That led to Billy Eppler’s hiring.
When Eppler took over, he had Mike Trout, but he already had that albatross Albert Pujols contract. It was a roster that was somewhat flawed, but it had a good, young, and emerging starting staff with Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago, and Andrew Heaney. They also had a very good bullpen with Huston Street, Joe Smith, and Fernando Salas.
In many ways, this was a great job to have. There were pieces in place to make the Angels a winner and a deep pocketed owner. There is the caveat the farm system was not great, but overall, this was a good job to have. Well, while it looked like it was a good job to have, things would completely unravel.
The Andrelton Simmons trade did not pan out as he had hoped. That would become a habit for him with the same happening in future years with Cameron Maybin, Danny Espinosa, and Ian Kinsler. His signings never really panned out with Justin Upton never working out for the team. He began dabbling on the fringes of the pitching markets getting players like Matt Harvey for far too much while eschewing the higher priced and more established starters.
Making matters worse was the Angels farm system never really improved under Eppler. They were bad when he took over, and when he left, they were still bad. During his tenure, he never really had a player he drafted come up to the majors and be an impact player for him.
All told, Eppler only had three real accomplishments. First, he signed Trout to an extension. Second, he landed Shohei Ohtani. Finally, he did what Dipoto wasn’t able to do by outlasting Scioscia. Despite all that, his tenure was largely a disappointment and failure.
With the Mets, the good news is he built a very strong roster in his first season. He added Chris Bassitt, Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte, and Max Scherzer. His peripheral moves to address the bullpen like Adam Ottavino worked. All told, it was a 101 win team that tied atop the NL East (still losing the division due to Rob Manfred’s gimmick rules and postseason).
In year one, we saw Eppler have a stronger offseason than he ever had in any year with the Angels. Part of that was Cohen having the checkbook to add players like Marte and Scherzer. With Joely Rodriguez, Tyler Naquin, and Darin Ruf, you saw he still has a lot of work left to do in terms of trades, we should give him a lot of credit for Bassitt.
Overall, it is still difficult to ascertain if Eppler has learned from his previous mistakes and errors as the Angels GM. What we do know is Cohen is a better owner with more money than Arte Moreno. We also know the Mets have a far better farm system with Francisco Álvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos nearly ready to be Major League contributors.
Put another way, we are going to learn a lot about Eppler this offseason. We will see how he handles players like deGrom, Diaz, and Nimmo. We will see how he address the Mets need for power while having contracts like Canha and Daniel Vogelbach seemingly standing in the way of doing that.
This is a critical offseason for the Mets and Eppler. This offseason will go a long way to determining if the Mets can contend in 2023 and beyond until the farm is fully up to speed to provide depth to the Major League roster. It will also go a long way in determining just how good of a GM Eppler truly can be.
We can dicker over which one of the New York Mets free agents is the most pressing. Honestly, when looking at it, Jacob deGrom is an absolute necessity. Same goes for Edwin Diaz. And yes, that also applies to Brandon Nimmo.
There are some who may want to disagree, but that’s not surprising. After all, no matter how productive Nimmo is atop the lineup or how much he improves defensively, he will forever have naysayers. To them, the question is if not Nimmo, then who?
Looking at the MLB free agents, Nimmo is far and away the best center fielder. In fact, he is the only everyday center fielder. Sure, you can say it’s Aaron Judge, who is a far superior players, but Judge is really a right fielder and will be so next season.
You could argue the Mets can shift Starling Marte back to center, but that may not be the best idea for a 34 year old who has trouble staying on the field. It should also be noted he was again slower in 2022. Yes, part of that was his leg injury. However, again, injuries are an issue for him, which is why the Mets moved him to right field in the first place.
There’s also the matter of just how good Nimmo is. In fact, Nimmo was the best center fielder by WAR in 2022 (again, assuming Judge moves back to right field as will all further points). His wRC+ was second only to Julio Rodriguez. He was tied for 11th in OAA. What’s scary about this is we can all agree this was somewhat of a down year offensively for Nimmo.
Consider that for a moment, despite a relative down year, Nimmo was the best at his position in 2022. He is a prototypical lead-off hitter. He continues to improve in the field year-in and year-out. He is a fan favorite. He is the best and really only available at his position this offseason.
Going back to Rodriguez for a second, the Mets don’t have a real center field prospect in the pipeline. Really, they don’t have any outfield prospects close to the majors. When it comes to the Mets, their only option is Nimmo.
If this were the Wilpons, Nimmo would be as good as gone. However, this is Steve Cohen’s Mets. Scott Boras or no Scott Boras, Cohen has the ability to make sure Nimmo stays with the Mets. Surveying the landscape, the Mets have no other choice than to make it happen. Brandon Nimmo needs to stay with the Mets.
The Sporting News has begun releasing their year end awards, and New York Mets manager Buck Showalter was named the National League Manager of the Year. Whomever made up the electorate has a lot of explaining to do about that.
Before delving further, there needs to be an important clarification about this Mets team. The roster that was assembled was a very good roster built to win the division and the World Series. This was not remotely the team which fell apart under Luis Rojas.
Look at the team again. There were four All-Stars with Pete Alonso, Starling Marte, Jeff McNeil, and Edwin Diaz. The team had five Silver Slugger finalists in Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Marte, McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo. Over half of their lineup was viewed upon as amongst the best at their position, and for absolutely none of those players was that remotely a shock..
This was also a team with the strongest and deepest rotation in baseball. They were second in baseball in payroll. This was an exceptional team across the board. Treating them like the Major League roster with Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn and Willie Mays Hayes was always been a farce.
However, narratives are narratives. It is with that prism people want to proclaim Showalter the best manager in the National League. Like most narratives, they fall to even the slightest bit of scrutiny.
Again, this was a very good team. It is why the Mets had a 10.5 game lead in June. Keep in mind, that meant Showalter was the skipper for a team which blew a 10.5 game lead. That is the largest blown lead over a full 162 game season since the inception of division play. What makes it all the worse is the Mets had the easiest closing schedule in baseball and only needed to take one game from the Atlanta Braves the final weekend of the season.
Put another way, Showalter led the Mets to an unprecedented collapse. It is bizarre they would give this award to a manager who was in charge when the Mets collapsed. More to the point, it is farcical Showalter would win the award over Brian Snitker, the manager who led the team from the 10.5 deficit to overtake Showalter’s Mets.
There is also the fact Dave Roberts led the Los Angeles Dodgers to the best record in all of baseball. He did that doing his usual platoon side mixing and matching. He also did it getting nothing from Walker Buehler and abbreviated seasons from Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, and Andrew Heaney. However, he doesn’t nearly get any credit. It’s probably because he is still tainted by the Dodgers past postseason failures.
Of course, for some reason, Showalter never had to deal with that reality when people looked at voting him Manager of the Year. Looking at him late in the season and the postseason, he was still every bit the manager who didn’t use Zack Britton. A large part of that may well be he has been great with the media and was great in the media.
This is a large part of the reason why he was not put under the microscope for his and his team’s failures. It is why he won Manager of the Year over the guy who beat him (Snitker) and the manager who probably did the best job (Roberts). In the end, people wanted to pretend it was Showalter who transformed the Mets and not the fact Steve Cohen opened his wallet to build a very good Mets team.
With Showalter getting a pass and people overlooking just how good this roster was, Showalter wins even though his team lost. All you can do is shake your head and laugh.
When Steve Cohen purchased the New York Mets, there was a ton of excitement from the fanbase. We were finally getting an owner who knew what it was like to be a Mets fan. We were getting an owner with the resources to do what was needed to win.
Well, the first year did not go nearly as planned. We saw the type of influence Cohen could have dining with Francisco Lindor and then giving him the largest contract in team history. In a bit of panache, he gave him one million more than the San Diego Padres had given Fernando Tatis Jr.
Still, much of 2021 was “same old Mets.” Jared Porter was fired for harassment. A Cohen directed investigation uncovered more leading to more firings. The replacement GM, Zack Scott was fired after being arrested for a DUI. They would trade a top prospect for Javier Báez. With apologies to Trevor Williams, the trade was a disaster.
This was a Mets team who set the record for most days in first place only to finish the season with an under .500 record. The hated Atlanta Braves overtook them en route to winning the World Series. The Mets players were booing fans from the field. This was all reminiscent of the Wilpon Era.
In the offseason, the Mets once again struck out in their president of baseball operations search leading them to settle on Billy Eppler as the GM. The collective bargaining agreement would actually implement a Cohen Tax designed to stop him from flexing his financial muscle.
Cohen would be undaunted, and in fact, he would prove to Mets fans and all of baseball this is definitively not the same old Mets.
Cohen opened up the wallet. In the offseason, he paid for the Mets to sign star players in Starling Marte and Max Scherzer. They were not just great, but they changed the culture of a team which fell apart the previous season. That was part of an offseason which also saw the Mets overhaul their lineup and approach at the plate.
Cohen wanted and made sure to land Buck Showalter. The organization wanted to change their offensive mindset and approach, and they were able to hire Eric Chavez away from the New York Yankees to do it. They also continued to grow their analytics department, and late in the season, they purchased one of the famed hitting machines which can replicate pitcher deliveries.
Cohen understood the best thing an owner can do for the fans is to put a winner on the field. He gave the organization all the resources they needed, and they built a 101 win team. However, Cohen was not done there.
Being a Mets fan himself, he loved and appreciated the Mets history. He brought back Old Timers’ Day and would retired Willie Mays‘ number because he believed it to be the right thing to do (making this a complete departure from the Wilpons). He would also retire beloved player and broadcaster Keith Hernandez‘s number.
In essence, Cohen has given Mets fans everything they’ve ever wanted. Fans wanted this team to matter and be a contender. They were. They wanted the team history to be recognized and celebrated. It was.
The best news yet is Cohen is far from done. Eppler has already talked about getting the resources needed to improve upon this season. The organization has talked about spending to bridge the gap to sustained winning much in the vein of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
No, the 2022 season did not end the way Mets fans had hoped. More important than that failure is the future. With Cohen, the future is bright, and we see how the focus is winning and making the Mets as fan friendly as possible. Seeing the totality of the season, Cohen did all he promised and more. That should leave all of us Mets fans excited to see what comes next.
When seasons don’t end the way you want or expect, people look for a reason or a scapegoat. To wit, the New York Mets announced both Billy Eppler and Buck Showalter were returning next season. On the one hand, it would seem obvious that was the case, but there was a collapse, so it was best to state it outright.
Certainly, both Eppler and Showalter have their fair share of the blame for what happened. However, it is much deeper and much more layered than that.
The seminal moment most Mets fans point to is Starling Marte‘s hand injury in the September 6 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ask a Mets fans, and they staunchly believe the Mets win the division if Marte doesn’t get hurt. To a certain extent, there is truth to that.
After all, it meant more Tyler Naquin, who was terrible in September batting .185/.232/.308. He was so poor he was left off the postseason roster despite his terrific numbers against Yu Darvish, a pitcher the Mets never hit.
Looking at Naquin, that should have us revisit the Eppler point. There was a post hoc analysis of the Mets trade deadline moves (which were debated in real time). Prior to the Daniel Vogelbach trade, Mets DHs had a 79 wRC+. From Vogelbach’s firsts game with the Mets to the end of the season, that mark improved to a 102 wRC+.
However, that was mostly Vogelbach. Against left-handed pitching. Darin Ruf had a 20 OPS+ with the Mets. Mark Vientos and Francisco Álvarez were throw into pennant races and struggled. Notably, Gary Cohen was highly critical of the Mets decision making process noting how the Mets didn’t call them up when there was a chance during the season and put too much on them.
To that point, the Atlanta Braves called up Michael Harris and Vaughn Grissom well in advance of September games, and they got much better production. As an aside, the Braves are again extending their young core while the Mets aren’t, but that’s a separate discussion for another day.
All of the above is a worthwhile discussion, however, it is still not getting to the root cause. The Mets collapse began at Citi Field against the Washington Nationals. The Mets would lose two out of three games. It was part of the Mets worst stretch of the season.
From September 3 to September 14, the Mets were 5-6 against the Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins, and Chicago Cubs. During that stretch, the Mets three game lead shrunk to a half game. Over a stretch where the Mets could put the division away, they put the division back in play allowing the Braves to sweep the Mets forcing the Mets to the Wild Card.
Fast-forward for a second to the Atlanta Braves series. There were a number of problems in that series. Chief among them was the starting pitching failed. Figuring out how to prevent this from happening again requires diagnosing how that happened. The answer may be unsatisfying to some, but it is as simple as fatigue.
Carlos Carrasco pitched a combined 121 2/3 innings over the previous two seasons. He would pitch 152 this season. At the 64 inning mark this season, Carrasco had a 3.52 ERA and was averaging 5 2/3 innings per start. After that, he had a 4.30 ERA averaging under five innings per start.
He had one of the Mets bad losses in September. On September 27, he allowed four runs to the Marlins over three innings. That was one of many games the Mets wanted back.
Taijuan Walker again had a poor second half, but he did salvage it a bit in September. Still, he faltered against the Pirates, and he took the loss against the Milwaukee Brewers. Both were big spots, and he and the Mets wish they had those games back.
Of course, neither Carrasco nor Walker were the biggest culprits, the ultimate blame seems to be directed at Chris Bassitt. Last year, Bassitt pitched 157 1/3 innings, and he had only thrown over 100 innings one other time in his career.
After his September 7 start, he hit the 161 1/3 inning mark. At that point, he had a 3.24 ERA while averaging a little over six innings per start. After that, Bassitt fell apart against the Cubs and Braves. He was very good against bad teams in the Pirates and Oakland Athletics.
Max Scherzer dealt with oblique issues. Jacob deGrom had a blister issue. Neither would ever admit it impacted their performances, but essentially, they were compromised pitchers. When you build a team on starting pitching, you can’t have all five starters limping to the finish line. That is exactly what the Mets had.
Unfortunately, they did not have the hitting to overcome this. That was apparent in Atlanta when they scored all of seven runs. Over the final month of the season, in their losses, they averaged 2.5 runs per game. Part of this was the Mets approach at the plate.
The Mets hit 171 homers this season ranked 15th in the majors. Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor accounted for 38.6% of the Mets home run production. The next highest was Eduardo Escobar with 20, and he hit almost half of them in September. Essentially, for most of the season, if Alonso and Lindor weren’t hitting it out of the park, no one was.
Combine that with very questionable managing from Buck Showalter in Atlanta and the postseason, and you have a 101 Mets team who fails to win the division. You have a Mets team who gets one hit in an elimination game.
With the Mets, it was no one thing. It was exhausted starting pitching who faltered. It was an offense overly reliant on two players. It was a manager who struggled in bad games making poor decisions in big games. And yes, it was a front office who failed to fully address the teams deeper issues at the trade deadline.
When all was said and done, this was a team built to sustain the rigors of the regular season. However, it was not prepared and built to last deep into the season and go deep into October. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it is difficult to overlook now.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally published on MMO
As a New York Mets fan, you thought it couldn’t get worse than 2007. Seven in 17. Tom Glavine not devastated after allowing seven runs in 0.2 innings.
That was a horror show we all watched unfold, but at least we could see it coming. There were starts in the final week of the season from David Williams and Phillip Humber. Billy Wagner was battling back spasms, and Aaron Heilman was gassed.
There were many issues with that team, and they were not remotely built to win the World Series. That makes that team vastly different than the 2022 Mets, a team which will also live in Mets infamy.
Make no mistake. The 2022 Mets collapse and choke was far worse than the 2007 Mets. The aftermath may only punctuate that.
On June 1, the Mets led the National League East by 10.5 games. This the third largest blown division lead in Major League history. It is the largest blown lead over a full 162 game season since the inception of division play. Notably. it is only the second such collapse since the inception of the Wild Card.
From a Mets perspective, this was made all the worse by their September. Remember, they had the easiest closing schedule in baseball with a three game lead.
The Mets were 2-6 against the Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, and Miami Marlins at home before the Atlanta Braves series. Really, the NL East never should have been at play when the Mets traveled to Atlanta.
Despite the Mets having their rotation aligned, they were swept by the Braves. This wasn’t Williams or Pelfrey faltering. It was Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Chris Bassitt faltering with each pitching worse than the last.
Yes, Starling Marte was injured, and he was a very good player and emotional leader all year. That said, the Mets should not have needed him to beat the worst teams in baseball. Again, this is far more about the Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Miami Marlins stretch than it was about the Braves series, a series that never should have mattered.
The Mets controlled the division and their own destiny. They completely and utterly failed doing it in historic fashion. As a result, they were the Wild Card and not a division winner.
In the Wild Card series, the Mets only showed up for the second game. It’s a harsh but fair criticism. Note, this isn’t saying they didn’t want to win. Of course, they wanted to win. They were desperate to win . It’s odd to say for a 101 win team, but they didn’t have what it took to win.
Like the Braves series, Scherzer and Bassitt were bad. For his part, deGrom was good but human. It is very clear by now Scherzer’s oblique and deGrom’s blister compromised them. Bassitt was just one fumes after pitching a career high in innings. However, it is more than that.
There’s plenty of blame to go around here. That includes Buck Showalter, who made a series of baffling decisions in the Braves series and the postseason. It’s Billy Eppler who failed at the trade deadline and who failed to call up his prospects in Mark Vientos and Francisco Álvarez who were just not given sufficient opportunity to get acclimated to the majors before being thrown into a pennant race.
What remains is the first 100+ win team to make the LDS since the inception of the series. It is the largest blown division lead in a full 162 game season since the inception of division play. It is a team which managed just one hit in an elimination game, the fewest a team has ever had.
The Mets entered the postseason with the best home winning percentage in the postseason. They lost two out of three getting outscored 16-8. They scored a total of one run in their two losses. ONE RUN.
This was a complete collapse from a team we all expected to be a true World Series contender. It failed because it couldn’t beat bad teams. It failed for so many reasons. In the end, this was a historic collapse in its own right, and yes, it was absolutely worse than 2007 because this team should have won the World Series.
It is well documented the New York Mets have never beaten Yu Darvish. Not once. Now, he is taking the mound in Game 1 of the best-of-three Wild Card Series against the New York Mets. Fortunately, the Mets have Max Scherzer, but as we saw in July, that is not always enough.
While the Mets have not beaten Darvish, there are Mets players on this team who have had success against Darvish. Of course, there are some who have not had much. Here is a look at the overall stats in descending OPS order:
- James McCann (11 PA) 4-for-10, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB 5 K
- Daniel Vogelbach (3 PA) 2-for-3, 2 RBI
- Tyler Naquin (6 PA) 3-for-6, 2B
- Starling Marte (18 PA) 7-for-17, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB 3 K
- Pete Alonso (11 PA) 2-for-10, HR, RBI, 3 K
- Francisco Lindor (19 PA) 5-for-16, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K
- Tomas Nido (3 PA) 1-for-3, K
- Eduardo Escobar (17 PA) 3-for-17, 2 2B, HR, RBI, 7 K
- Darin Ruf (5 PA) 0-for-2, 2 BB, K
- Jeff McNeil (13 PA) 1-for-11, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K
- Luis Guillorme (6 PA) 1-for-6, 2B, RBI, 2 K
- Mark Canha (4 PA) 1-for-4, K
- Brandon Nimmo (7 PA) 0-for-6, 2 K
At the moment, we do not know Marte’s status, but you can see just how much the Mets need him in this lineup. Marte not only is a big part of this team, but he also hits Darvish. This team needs that against a pitcher this franchise has never beaten.
On the bright side, if he can’t go, Naquin has hit Darvish. In fact, both he and Vogelbach were brought in at the trade deadline to hit right-handed pitching. This is a right-handed pitcher they have both hit. In many ways, this is the exact moment the thought process behind these trade deadline moves comes to fruition.
The obvious caveat with those two, or really anyone in this lineup, is these are small sample sizes. However, behind these small sample sizes are illustrative of something.
The first thing which really stands out at you is the strikeouts. That should not come as a surprise. This is not only a team which racks up strikeouts, but Darvish is a pitcher who records a lot of strikeouts. However, there is something beyond those strikeouts.
Like any pitcher, Darvish will make mistakes, and as we see with this lineup, when he makes them, they have capitalized on them. When you have Scherzer on the mound, the Mets may only need for one batter to capitalize on a mistake and drive it out of the ballpark.
So yes, the Mets have never lost to Darvish. However, Darvish has never pitched against the lineup the Mets are going put out there in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series. Seeing this team’s ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark against him, and with Scherzer on the mound, you have to like the Mets chances.