Starling Marte

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Capitalize Against Bad Nationals Team

The New York Mets opened their season on the road against the Washington Nationals, and they came just this close to a four game sweep. It was a pretty good start which could’ve been better:

1.  Here’s how good the Mets starting pitching was. They didn’t miss Jacob deGrom, and Max Scherzer was their worst starter in the series, and he had a quality start.

2.  If Carlos Carrasco is what he was on Sunday, which was the same pitcher we saw in Cleveland, than the rest of baseball is in trouble.

3.  Trevor Megill was simply awesome. Not only did he dominate picking up the win on Opening Day, but he stared down Juan Soto and Nelson Cruz in a big spot.

4.  Mets pitching held Soto to 3-for-14 with his homer coming off a mistake pitch from Trevor May. That is extremely impressive with Soto being one of the best in the game. With respect to May, he’ll be fine. It was just one pitch.

5.  In terms of Soto, the Apple TV+ game was a mixed bag, but the one thing they did well was try to promote star players like Soto. Trying to promote him and the images broadcast were definitely pluses. As for the rest, we will see how they improve after this game.

6.  Francisco Lindor has gotten off to a very good start at the plate which was something he and the Mets needed after last season. He had two errors, but we know his defense isn’t remotely an issue.

7.  The HBP were a significant issue with C-flaps saving Lindor and Pete Alonso from serious injuries. And no, this was not a sticky substance issue. The Mets managed to get through that series without hitting any batters.

8.  The HBP did prove an early season galvanizing moment with Buck Showalter and Jeremy Hefner leading the charge after Lindor’s HBP. It did lead to Steve Cishek‘s ejection, and we didn’t see more after that.

9.  There was a lot of good with Showalter this weekend, but his issues with bullpen management and giving veterans a long leash are still present.

10. Not pinch hitting for Robinson Cano and having Trevor Williams face Soto and Cruz helped cost the Mets a game. That isn’t something you want on your manager.

11. Alonso didn’t look great defensively this weekend, and that underhanded toss was something else. If he doesn’t button it back up defensively, the Mets are going to have to play Dominic Smith everyday at first. On that note, Smith was good in his game at first.

12. With respect to Alonso, he was one of two horrible sends from Joey Cora in this series. Remember, Cora was the worst third base coach in the majors last year before the Pittsburgh Pirates fired him. He got off to a very bad start to this season.

13. Eduardo Escobar looked very good in the series, and he is the early Major League leader in doubles. His defense looked better than career norms.

14. Mark Canha was excellent in the series going 7-for-10 with three walks. He also filled in as the center fielder in a pinch. Not too bad.

15. On the subject of how Mets new additions performed, Chris Bassitt was phenomenal in his start. In many ways, he could be the best addition the Mets made this offseason, and perhaps, they should be talking extension right now.

16. Who had Starling Marte as the only Met with a caught stealing and with Travis Jankowski having two stolen bases? Baseball is just funny sometimes.

17. Overall, despite one pitch from May and the Williams meltdown, this bullpen looked good albeit without much pressure. It will be interesting to see how they fare over the course of the season.

18. Jeff McNeil is back. Not only was he 7-for-16 with a homer, three RBI, and three walks, but he showed his versatility playing left field on Opening Day. If he’s McNeil again, the Mets lineup got much deeper and more dangerous.

19. Fortunately, it appears Brandon Nimmo‘s neck is alright. After missing the opener, he was 4-for-14 with a double and triple. He also survived a collision with the outfield wall. One odd thing with him is he only walked once and struck out five times.

20. It was easy beating what promises to be a very bad Nationals team. We’re about to find out more about this team as they travel to Philadelphia against that vaunted Phillies lineup and will face old friend Zack Wheeler.

Pete Alonso Has Mets Feeling Grand

You’d never know the New York Mets miss Jacob deGrom with the starting pitching they’ve gotten to start the season. Tonight, it was Chris Bassitt‘s turn to dominate.

Over six shutout innings, he only allowed three hits and one walk while striking out eight. He was never really challenged, and he was in sync with James McCann.

In terms of McCann, he’s looked better behind the plate than last year. He’d also get the game winning rally started with a leadoff single in the fifth.

After McCann singled, Brandon Nimmo walked. Starling Marte flew out for the first out of the inning bringing Francisco Lindor to the plate.

Lindor fell behind in the count 0-2 to Washington Nationals starter Joan Adon. Lindor battled back fouling off four pitches before drawing a walk to load the bases. Pete Alonso then unloaded them:

It was Alonso’s first career grand slam. Also, after he and other Mets have been plunked in this series, including Marte tonight, he had quite the bat flip.

In this game, and so far this season, Buck Showalter has been looking for everyone to contribute. That included Luis Guillorme, Travis Jankowski, and Dominic Smith getting the start.

Like everyone else, they would each contribute. That includes Jankowski who became the first Met to steal two bases in his first start.

That 4-0 lead grew to 5-0 in the ninth as Nimmo went to work. He hit a leadoff double, and he went to third as he tagged up on a Marte fly out. That put him in position to score when Andres Machado threw a wild pitch.

Again, the Mets bullpen did its job. Drew Smith (1.0), Joely Rodriguez (1.2), and Adam Ottavino (0.1) kept it scoreless. That made it an uneventful final three innings in the Mets 5-0 victory.

Game Notes: Edwin Diaz was unavailable as he was on the bereavement list after his grandfather’s death. Lindor made his second error of the season. For the first time since 2015, the Mets begin the season 3-0.

Mad Max And Madder Buck In Mets Win

We’ve heard the different ways Buck Showalter would be different. One of the things we didn’t hear or expect would be Buck challenging all the Nationals to a fight.

On Opening Day, three New York Mets were hit including Pete Alonso getting hit way up and in causing a busted lip. Tonight, it was Francisco Lindor getting hit in the helmet.

In both cases, the C-flap prevented serious injury. Like Alonso, Lindor left the game and cleared concussion protocols.

Instead of showing remorse, Steve Cishek was screaming and yelling. Keep in mind, he hit a player in the helmet. He was rightfully kicked out of the game.

As for that game, well, the Mets again beat the Washington Nationals pretty comfortably, and they did it on a night Max Scherzer wasn’t at his best.

Scherzer allowed a two run homer to Josh Bell as part of the three runs he allowed. Keep in mind Scherzer is so great a quality start qualifies as an off night.

All told, he allowed three earned on three hits and one walk while striking out six.

One fun note here is not only was he facing former teammates like Juan Soto, but in opposing pitcher Josiah Gray and catcher Keibert Ruiz, he faced the players the Nationals received when they traded Scherzer to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

For the first two, Gray looked nearly unhittable. In the third, after Mark Canha ran himself into an out trying to stretch a single into a double, Jeff McNeil gave himself a 30th birthday gift.

The Mets put two more up in the third. Lindor started the rally with a walk, and it was second and third with one out after an Eduardo Escobar double. Robinson Cano, the DH, brought them home with an RBI single.

After Canha walked, Tomas Nido singled. This led to another horrible send by Joey Cora as Dee Strange-Gordon easily threw out Cano at the plate to end the inning.

In the fifth, the Mets knocked out Gray. Brandon Nimmo, playing his first game of the season, hit a leadoff triple, and he scored on a Starling Marte RBI double.

After that, Lindor was hit and removed from the game. However, the Mets could not further capitalize. It would not come back to haunt them.

In the sixth, Canha and McNeil led off with consecutive singles and were sacrificed over by Nido. After Nimmo struck out, Marte delivered a key two out RBI single expanding the Mets lead to 6-3.

It was a three RBI night for Marte. We’d also see multiple RBI from Cano and McNeil.

McNeil’s second RBI came in the ninth. Alonso doubled and Escobar walked to start the inning, but Dominic Smith and Canha could not drive them home. McNeil would bring home Alonso with a patented slap hit expanding the Mets lead to 7-3.

With Drew Smith, Seth Lugo, and Sean Reid-Foley doing their jobs over the final three innings, that would be the final score.

So far, this is all exactly how the Mets drew it up. The Mets just look that good right now.

Game Notes: This is the second straight game all Mets starters reached base at least once. Smith was the Mets last position player to get an AB this season. This was Apple TV’s first game. Scherzer is 13- 0 against former teams.

Mets Opening Day Tylor Winning Continues

Nothing about this Opening Day was as the New York Mets expected. It was delayed by the lockout, and then, it was pushed back to 7:05 only to be rain delayed to 8:21.

Jacob deGrom is out for months, so Tylor Megill got the start. Brandon Nimmo has neck issues meaning Mark Canha was in center, Jeff McNeil in left, and Robinson Cano at second.

Maybe things are different with Buck Showalter, and maybe this is just the Mets Opening Day mojo. Whatever it was, it worked.

It all started with Megill. He was amped throwing 99 MPH in the first, and he was pacing the dugout like Max Scherzer. He had the results to back that up.

In his five shutout innings, Megill easily dealt with the little adversity he faced.

In the second, after a one out double by Keibert Ruiz, Francisco Lindor made an error putting runners on first and second with one out. Megill got out of it by getting Mets killer Maikel Franco (he would have five unassisted put outs at third) to hit into an inning ending double play.

In the third, the Nationals had runners on the corners with one out. Megill was extremely impressive striking out Juan Soto before getting Nelson Cruz to hit into an inning ending fielders choice.

Megill needed to keep the Mets off the board because Patrick Corbin was keeping the Mets off the board for the first four innings despite not really having anything.

There could’ve been a run in the fourth. Eduardo Escobar doubled, and Joey Cora had a bad send leading to Pete Alonso getting thrown out at home.

Then, the Mets first rally of the season started with Cano getting a bunt base hit against the shift. Canha walked, and McNeil singled loaded the bases with no outs.

In 2021, this was a death knell for the Mets. Those concerns were abated when James McCann was hit with a pitch giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Starling Marte followed with what could’ve been an inning ending 5-5-3 double play, but Franco’s throw to first was wide giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.

At that point, Victor Arano was in for Corbin. With J.D. Davis getting the start at DH because he kills Corbin, everyone, including GKR wondered why Dominic Smith wasn’t pinch hitting. We all wondered why all the more when Davis hit into the inning ending double play.

In the sixth, Alonso had a one out single, and Cano had a two out walk. Finally, Canha delivered the Mets first RBI hit with a single giving the Mets a 3-0 lead.

McNeill followed him with a two out RBI single of his own. For McNeil, it was a return to what we saw from him before his down 2021 season. He was 2-for-4 with an RBI and strikeout.

The Nationals got one back in the sixth when Trevor May yielded a bomb to Soto. The Mets got that run back in the top of the seventh on a Lindor RBI single.

The Mets bullpen did their job from there with Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo, and Edwin Diaz locking down the final three innings to secure the Mets 5-1 win.

This is a game where nearly everyone contributed. That included Travis Jankowski who pinch ran and stayed on to play center moving McNeil back to second. Jankowski had pinch ran for Cano who was 2-for-3 with two runs and a walk. McCann was the only Mets starter without a hit, but he was hit by pitches twice.

Overall, this is Mets Opening Day baseball. They win, and they tend to dominate with Megill being the fourth straight Opening Day starter to not allow a run.

Game Notes: Megill had the fewest career innings of any Mets Opening Day starter. Scherzer was the first Met introduced to a warm ovation from Nationals fans. With Marte wearing 6, McNeill switched to 1. Alonso was lifted in the ninth after getting hit by a pitch in the shoulder which ricocheted off his mouth.

Bold 2022 Mets Predictions

The New York Mets will be led by Buck Showalter as the team sets to try to win their first World Series since 1986. Since this is their 60th season, here are 60 bold predictions for the season.

1. The New York Mets will win the 2022 World Series.

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.

3.  Rose will return in some limited fashion to SNY and will be a fill-in replacement in 2023 and beyond.

4. Francisco Lindor will be the NL MVP. Like Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran, he’s going to have a huge second year. Unlike them, he wont’ be denied 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.

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.

7.  The Mets All-Stars this season will be Diaz, Lindor, and Max Scherzer.

8.  Jacob deGrom will receive some Cy Young votes. Whenever he comes back, he’s going to be deGrom, and he’s going to be so great, he’s going to appear on ballots.

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.

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.

11.  Chris Bassitt will have a slow first month frustrating fans, but he will have a terrific stretch starting in the middle of May as he adjusts to working with the new catchers and Jeremy Hefner.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

17. The Atlanta Braves will not challenge the Mets at all for the division. They’ll really miss Freddie Freeman, the bullpen will falter, and they will not get Ronald Acuna Jr. back in time.

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.

19. Carlos Carrasco will rebound and will pitch like he did with Cleveland, but he will not make more than 20 starts.

20. Trevor Williams will become a huge part of the Mets bullpen as he becomes more of a fastball/slider pitcher.

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.

22. The Mets will have multiple Gold Glove winners with Lindor and Marte.

23. Hefner will get interviews for managerial positions with other teams after this season.

24. So will Eric Chavez.

25. The Mets will not have any player at DH for more than 40 games this season.

26. J.D. Davis will make multiple relief appearances for the Mets this season.

27. The Joely Rodriguez trade will work out as well as the Alex Torres trade did for the Mets.

28. None of the Mets outfielders will play over 135 games this season.

29. Fans will fall in love with Nick Plummer and get more frustrated by Khalil 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.

31. There will be an issue over Marcus Stroman not receiving a video tribute when the Chicago Cubs visit the Mets in September.

32. Old Timers’ Day will have one team wearing the 1986 Mets jerseys and the other team wearing the black jerseys.

33. Carlos Beltran will not return to Citi Field for Old Timers’ Day. We also will not see Carlos Delgado.

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.

35. The defensive highlight of the season will come from Luis Guillorme.

36. Pete Alonso will take a step back defensively, and he will see more time at DH than initially expected.

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.

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.

39. Mets fans will actually enjoy the Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts this season.

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.

42. The Tom Seaver statue will be perfect.

43. Drew Smith will take over the eighth inning and will be groomed as the next closer. He will not take over the eighth due to any fault of Trevor May who will have another good year.

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.

45. The Mets are going to have a monster second half with them running 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.

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.

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.

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.

50. The Mets will not need to add bullpen pieces at the deadline because we will see pitchers like Colin Holderman and Thomas Szapucki emerge as quality relief options at the Major League level.

51. James McCann will have very similar production to what he had in 2021, and in short order, he will find himself in a catching rotation with Tomas Nido.

52. No New York baseball player will sign an in-season extension. That includes deGrom and Nimmo, and it also includes Aaron Judge.

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).

54. Taijuan Walker will make the fewest starts of anyone in the Mets pitching rotation.

55. The Mets will have a no-hitter this season, but it will not be from a starting pitcher going all nine innings.

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.

57. The Mets will announce their next Hall of Fame class, and it will include Al Leiter and Johan Santana.

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.

59. Showalter is going to get Guillorme in a lot of games for late inning defense.

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.

Mets Can’t Win In 2022 With deGrom Hurt

After dealing with injuries for two straight seasons, Jacob deGrom had to be scratched with a shoulder issue. With deGrom injured, there’s just no way the New York Mets can win this year.

Pitching is everything in baseball, and that goes double for the Mets. This team was built to win with their starting rotation, especially the two-headed monster of deGrom and Max Scherzer.

Right away, those plans have been blown up. What’s left is an interesting roster, but one with holes across the board.

Instead of building a great bullpen, the Mets let Aaron Loup go and replaced him with Adam Ottavino and Chasen Shreve. With that they took an under-performing unit in 2021 and made it worse. Basically, they’re relying on Seth Lugo and Drew Smith to stay healthy, which is like expecting deGrom to be healthy as well.

Lugo and Smith aren’t the only injury concerns. There is also their entire starting outfield of Mark Canha, Starling Marte, and Brandon Nimmo. That trio never lasts a full season, and to compound matters, the team isn’t carrying a real fourth outfielder on the roster.

Fielding is also an issue. Eduardo Escobar isn’t a third baseman. Jeff McNeil refused to follow the defensive alignments. Then, there is the matter of James McCann behind the plate. He wasn’t what the Mets anticipated what he would be, and instead, he was McCann from before his career year.

Other areas of concern include exactly how the DH situation will be resolved. Robinson Cano probably has the best bat, but that is also when he is using steroids. Dominic Smith is a better first baseman, but the team won’t relegate Pete Alonso to DH because he is the crown jewel. Lets not mention J.D. Davis here either.

On that DH and fielding point, you wonder just how much the Mets are going to put out their best alignments in the field. There is some promise with Marte being named the right fielder, but then again, the team isn’t trying McNeil at third despite the fact he’s the best third baseman and really the only one on the roster. Looking at this Mets team, they could put out a Gold Glove caliber defense across the board, but they just refused to do so.

Likely, it is because even with the Wilpons gone, this team still isn’t just letting the baseball people make all the decisions. To be fair, that was a Sandy Alderson calling card. After all, he’s the guy who was rumored to have offered Michael Jordan a Major League deal when he was the Oakland Athletics GM, and Alderson did sign Tim Tebow. In the end, Alderson can’t just shake that carnival act part of the job. When and if he does, this Mets team will finally be special.

Sooner or later, things will change and people will catch-on. Until that point, we just have to move past today and look forward to the day when the Mets can sustain more than just one big injury to be contenders. To that point, Michael Conforto is still out there, and the team does have the money to address other areas. However, at this point, who knows?

Mets Showing They Can Be Great In 2022

Look, we should not get too over excited about Spring Training results. Yes, that is even the case when the New York Mets annihilate the Miami Marlins and their starter Pablo Lopez, who is coming off a very good year. The same goes with the Marlins having many of their Opening Day players in the game.

But . . .

The Mets didn’t just look great in the game. They have looked great all Spring. More importantly, the players they need to be great have looked great.

Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer are deGrom and Scherzer. Chris Bassitt has not allowed a run this Spring. Right there, the top three in the league look ready to run, and if they pitch like they can, the Mets don’t need much more help.

And yet, they are getting that help as Francisco Lindor seems poised to have his 1999 Mike Piazza or 2006 Carlos Beltran season. Lindor has been a man possessed hitting four homers this Spring, posting high exit velocities, and playing great defense even by his own standards:

Jeff McNeil seems poised to put a down year behind him, and he looks to be playing the best defense we’ve seen from him. We’ve also seen James McCann ready to put a bad year behind him as well as he’s been hitting the ball hard this Spring, and he seems to be getting back to the catcher we thought he was after the 2020 season.

Dominic Smith came to camp ready to win a starting job, and really, at this point, it’s impossible not to give him one. Starling Marte put injuries behind him, and he’s literally hit the ground running. Up and down the lineup, the Mets appeared like they came to Spring Training with World Series aspirations, and they are not going to leave anything to chance.

That goes down to Luis Guillorme and Tomas Nido, who have also had strong Springs. Really, you have to look deep at the Mets roster to find someone who is not contributing and who has not done something to claim a job.

Maybe this is the retooled roster. Maybe this is the excitement over the Scherzer and Marte signings. It could be a Buck Showalter or Steve Cohen effect. Whatever it is, right now, it looks great. If this carries over to the season, the Mets are going to run away with the division.

Mets Roster Still Feels Very Incomplete

The New York Mets have the rotation which can win them a World Series. That goes double when the top of your rotation is Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. That said, this is a roster which still needs help.

The outfield is more than set with Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte, and Mark Canha. However, they are not a trio who historically lasts a season. That is going to leave the team shallow for good chunks of the season just hoping Khalil Lee figures it out or Nick Plummer can prove last season was him making his march to the majors.

The infield is also set, but that could be a problem as well. Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor seem to be well past their issues, and they promise to be an elite double play combination on the field and at the plate. Pete Alonso made strides defensively and has likely dedicated himself to be even better. However, Eduardo Escobar has always been a poor third baseman, and now, he is going to be asked to play there everyday.

The catching situation is a bit of a mess. James McCann regressed in all areas of his game last season. Unless he starts hitting or framing better, the Mets are going to have to try to pivot to Tomas Nido depsite McCann’s big contract. On that note, Nido remains elite defensively, but he still has issues at the plate.

Looking at the bench, Dominic Smith is a first baseman, and J.D. Davis has no position, which admittedly is much less of an issue with the DH. Robinson Cano has the contract and bat to justify playing everyday, but that is only if he is Cano. Really, at this point, no one knows if he can, but you have to assume with the backing of Buck Showalter he just might get the opportunity to prove he still is.

Luis Guillorme is a great defender who will struggle to find playing time. His pinch hitting ability has also been neutralized with the universal DH. Fortunately, he does seem to finally have a believer in what he brings to a team in Showalter.

Honestly, the concerns over the bullpen is muchado about nothing. Edwin Diaz can close even if he’s not the most reliable. Trevor May is a very good late inning reliever. With the injury concerns past him, Seth Lugo can get back to being Lugo. Drew Smith is on the verge of a breakout. Miguel Castro is good against left-handed batters, and Adam Ottavino gives a different look.

With all the pitching the Mets have a great mix and actual depth which goes down to the Triple-A level. It is something they have not had in quite some time. However, as noted, from a position player standpoint, this team needs some real help. It’s another reminder Michael Conforto is still a free agent, and maybe, it’s a call for one of the players in the organization to step forward and claim a spot.

The Mets need that to happen because the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers continue attacking this offseason looking to push towards winning the 2022 World Series. The Mets have the pitching to get there, but now , they really need to make sure they have everything else.

Robinson Cano Is Back, Now What?

Robinson Cano came back, and he apparently offered an apology to the team and the press. Now, he wouldn’t tell us why he took the PEDs, but he said he might tell us one day. Of course, the answer was to return to form, but we’ll let him say it or his other excuse another day.

According to Buck Showalter, Cano is a guy who can hit until he is 50. That was actually something we used to say about former Met Julio Franco, and he nearly did. What is notable with Franco was he was a solid pinch hitter and clubhouse presence for that 2006 NL East winning New York Mets team. In some ways, you could compare him to 1985 Rusty Staub.

Of course, that pinch hitting role doesn’t quite exist anymore, at least, not in the same way it used to exist. Now, we have the universal DH. As a result, you’re not quite burning that guy who should be pinch hitting and not quite stepping on the field. Even if these Mets seem to acknowledge a sunk cost, it is difficult to imagine them paying Cano $20.25 million to fulfill that role.

That begs the question as to what his role will be. Jeff McNeil was announced as the starter for second base, which as we all know, is Cano’s position. The Mets gave Eduardo Escobar starter money, and as a result, we can assume he will be the everyday third baseman. That pretty much leaves Cano with either the DH or a utility role.

On the later, Cano is said to be working at second and first. We know he has played some third, and there are indications he could be good there. However, lost in all of that is the fact Cano is 39 and did not play at all last year. Overall, we don’t know where his conditioning is and just how much he can withstand the 162 game grind anymore.

Maybe, Cano can be the DH. However, the Mets have Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. There is also the fact their starting outfield of Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte, and Mark Canha have all had durability issues in their career, and they could probably use the DH break every now and then while the Mets keep their bats in the lineup.

In the end, there is really no clear role for Cano. Ultimately, that may just mean Cano sits around with the Mets picking and choosing his spots until an injury happens or someone struggles necessitating Cano to be plugged into the lineup. Whatever the case, Cano’s role isn’t so much a problem for this team inasmuch as it is something which needs addressing to make sure it won’t be an issue during the season.

Mets Still Need Michael Conforto

The New York Mets have done a lot of work this offseason, and they have transformed their team. The Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt additions have made the rotation deeper, and with Jacob deGrom atop the rotation, the Mets are going to be extremely tough to beat.

The lineup was retooled with Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, and Starling Marte. Despite that, even with the return of Robinson Cano from his suspension, the Mets likely find themselves one player short from being a real complete team. That player is Michael Conforto.

As detailed first on the Simply Amazin podcast, the Mets outfield really does remain a question mark. We got the first glimpse of that when Marte reporting to Spring Training with a strained oblique. For as good as he is, Marte has played over 132 games in a season once since 2016.

Brandon Nimmo presents a similar problem. Nimmo is arguably the Mets best hitter, and he showed the ability to be a good center fielder in 2021. However, he carries the same injury problems as Marte. In 2018, Nimmo played 140 games. That is his career best with 92 games being his second highest. Like Marte, you can’t trust Nimmo to stay on the field and be healthy for 162 games.

Canha played 141 games last season. That was a career high with his previous career high being 126. Canha is also going to be 33, and he has shown real signs of decline in his career. When healthy, this is a good outfield, but they’re not always healthy, and at their ages, there is some risk with Marte and Canha in decline.

This is where the universal DH can help the Mets. Instead of signing a player like Kyle Schwarber to be the DH, using it for Pete Alonso to get Dominic Smith to play first, trying Cano, or really any other iteration, the Mets could sign Conforto and use the DH to rotate between these outfielders to keep them all fresh and healthy.

With Conforto, you still have a player in his prime, and when healthy, Conforto is a great hitter and defender. Yes, Conforto had a down 2021, but that was in part due to his COVID infection and ensuing injuries. Despite that, Conforto still had a 118 wRC+ in the second half. Again, he showed us he can still hit.

This is also a player who has not only been a leader for the Mets, but he has also shown he can handle New York. That is something which gets lost in the shuffle sometimes. Conforto has seen it all with the Mets, and he has been a player with no controversy, emerged as a leader, and has been an All-Star. He knows what it’s like to play on the biggest stage in the biggest city in the world.

Believe it or not, even with all the moves to move on from Conforto, this roster is likely a left-handed batter short. They’re also an everyday outfielder short. Really, when you break it all down, they are a Michael Conforto short. Luckily for them, he’s still out there giving the Mets the chance to bring him back and let him lead the team to the World Series.