We can all reasonably debate whether Marcus Stroman or Trevor Bauer is better. There are arguments to be made for either pitcher, and on that front, we should all be able to agree to disagree while waiting for the next few years to play out.
However, one area where Mets fans should be unanimous is extending Stroman before he hits the free agent market.
Looking at the Mets 2021 rotation, only Jacob deGrom is a sure thing. After him, David Peterson earned a spot. From there, your guess is as good as anyone, especially with the Mets having to make a critical decision on Steven Matz.
That’s 2-3/5 of a rotation to fill. Beyond Stroman and Bauer, the market has a lot of question marks. It’s one thing to take a shot on Rick Porcello again or signing a Kevin Gausman. It’s a whole other thing to sign both and count on them leading you back to the postseason.
No, if you’re the Mets, you need another top flight starter to pair with deGrom. We know Stroman has been that in his career. We also know he can handle New York.
Getting Stroman signed now allows the Mets to have less uncertainty entering the postseason. It ensures a strong rotation for the 2021 season. It allows them to focus on other areas of their team which needs upgrades and improvements. It’s also gives the Mets a chance to be a little creative.
The problem is with Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers winning last night, they’re one game away from winning the World Series. As it stands, the World Series either ends tomorrow or Wednesday. Five days after that, free agency begins.
This gives the Mets a little less than a week to extend Stroman much in the way the Mets once did with Mike Piazza. That’s not to say Stroman is a future Hall of Famer like Piazza. Rather, it illustrates if you give a player what they want in a deal, they’ll happily agree to stay.
Certainly, Stroman is a native New Yorker who has enjoyed pitching in New York. It’s now time to take advantage of that and Steve Cohen’s deep pockets and keep him in New York.
If they don’t, the Mets rotation in 2021 could look even worse than it did this year. Certainly, that’s not how anyone wants the Cohen era to begin. With that being the case, get to work and sign Stroman.
Make no mistake, Steven Matz was an unmitigated disaster in 2020. He had a very good start on the second day of the season, but he just kept getting worse and worse.
He had a 44 ERA+ and a 7.76 FIP. He allowed 4.1 homers per nine. His 9.68 ERA was unseemly.
Under no circumstances would you tender a pitcher like him a contract. You non-tender him and make decisions from there. However, the Mets are not really in a position to non-tender him, and aside from that, it would be unwise to non-tender him.
For starters, the free agent starting pitching market is a mess. Beyond Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer, the pitchers available are really not guaranteed to be any better than what Matz could give you on what will essentially be a one year deal.
As an organization, you’re in a better position to take a pitcher you know and work with him than go with another pitcher and start from square one. On that note, the Mets should be better equipped to get Matz right.
Entering next season, Steve Cohen has promised to beef up the Mets analytics departments and to upgrade the Mets technology. This means Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, and even Phil Regan have more at their disposal to get Matz pitching to how we know he can.
We’ve seen that Matz not too long ago. In the second half of the 2019 season, he seemingly turned the corner.
While working with Regan and Accardo, Matz finished the season going 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA over his final 13 starts. This wasn’t a complete anomaly for Matz. At different points of his career, he’s shown this ability.
Matz was this good in 2015 through the first half of 2017. Again, he had a strong first half in 2018.
There’s a lot you can take away from this. It’s certainly possible injuries took their toll. Maybe, even to this point, he’s battling inconsistency. It’s also possible the Mets increasingly worse defense have had an impact on him. There’s many possible theories and explanations which can be proffered.
Lost in any of them is Matz is a good pitcher who has shown the ability to be a quality Major League starter. For a brief moment, it did appear as if 2020 was going to be the year he took his game to the next level.
During Spring Training, there were reports of his having increased velocity and being ahead of where he’s been in previous seasons.
The first thing Luis Rojas mentioned about Steven Matz's performance in Camp: his increased velocity.
Said he's been mid-to-upper 90s with really good velo differential on his curveball.
"I was pumped," Rojas said.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 21, 2020
The best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom, was impressed with Matz before the 2020 started saying Matz was pitching “maybe the best I’ve seen him in a long time.” (William Bradford Davis, New York Daily News). He also said of Matz, “I think the upside’s unbelievable.”
That’s the real issue with Matz – the upside is there. It’s incumbent on them to unlock it.
Again, based on the free agent market, there’s not a definitive better option. Also, due to Brodie Van Wagenen’s stripping the Mets pitching depth for no good reason, there’s no one coming through the Mets pipeline to help in 2021.
That leaves keeping Matz as a necessity. They need to figure him out, or possibly, make him a left-handed Seth Lugo in the bullpen. With the state Van Wagenen will be leaving the Mets, that’s it.
Matz is a real asset. With Cohen, they’ll have the people and technology in place to help Matz take his game to the next level. With Sandy Alderson, they have the people in place who were able to help get consistent performances from Matz.
In the end, the Mets need Matz. They should be preparing to tender him a deal and set him up for his best season yet. If for no other reason, there’s really no better option available.
As the season wound to a close, there was much talk about how the Mets were too talented for this season to have unfolded the way it did. Certainly, some players struggled, but in the end, the Mets missing even an expanded postseason should not have shocked anyone.
Things changed dramatically for the Mets the day Noah Syndergaard had to shut it down due to Tommy John surgery. It was at that point the Mets went from possible postseason contender to a team who was likely going to miss the postseason.
Syndergaard presented, along with Jacob deGrom, two top of the rotation, swing and miss pitchers. The Mets desperately needed this as this was a team with far too many pitchers who pitched to contact in front of a terrible defensive team.
In 2019, the Mets were last in the National League with an 86 DRS. Despite planning on going into 2020 with Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello, two pitchers who pitch to a high rate of contact, the Mets affirmatively opted not to improve their defense. In actuality, they probably made t worse.
Remember, the plan was to always have two first basemen in the field with Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis. Based on what we saw of Robinson Cano in 2019, you could’ve argued, the Mets were really putting three first basemen in the field. That’s beyond ill advised.
An important thing to remember here was not only were the Mets playing three first basemen, they were playing three poor ones at that, at least in terms of their respective positions.
By OAA, Alonso was the worst defensive first baseman in the NL last year. Davis was the 26th ranked LF with the second worst success rate. Cano was also ranked 26th.
The good news is Cano rebounded by OAA but not DRS. Past him, well, it was a complete disaster.
Davis didn’t last long in LF because he was even worse, which you could not imagine to be possible. He then moved to third where he was again an unmitigated disaster. That was a precipitous drop from the good, albeit declining defense, provided from Todd Frazier last year.
Alonso too regressed leading him to lose his everyday job at first. Instead, he split time with Dominic Smith at the position. When Dom wasn’t at first, he was in left. That meant the Mets had FOUR first basemen in the field.
You can’t win games that way.
What makes this even worse is the Mets didn’t really surround these players with plus defenders to offset the terrible defense.
Brandon Nimmo isn’t a center fielder. That was again proven by his -4 OAA and -5 DRS. Wilson Ramos was just about the worst catcher there was in baseball behind the plate. His framing numbers were poor, his ability to block the ball worse, and his ability to tag out runners nonexistent.
Essentially, that made the pitchers mound look more like a tiny island with a bunch of people around him just letting him drown.
Really, when you look at the Mets, the only position they had good defense was short with Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario providing very good defense there. Other than that this was a terrible defensive ballclub with the fourth worst DRS in all of baseball.
The sad thing is it didn’t have to be this way. There were very good defenders on this roster who earned playing time. Case in point was Luis Guillorme. He had a very good defensive season with a 1 OAA and DRS, and he posted a 144 wRC+ at the plate. Playing him up the middle with Gimenez or Rosario could’ve had a profound impact on this suspect pitching staff.
On that note, Porcello struggled with terrible defense behind him. Stroman opting out certainly hurt, but he also might’ve struggled in front of a flat out terrible defensive team.
Truth be told, the only way this team could’ve competed was by having a starting staff of swing and miss pitchers who induced soft contact. Unfortunately, Syndergaard was injured, and the Mets didn’t want Zack Wheeler. Once the latter two were gone so were the Mets chances.
In the end, Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon treated the Mets like they were a fantasy team. With the Mets having an MLB best team 122 wRC+, they probably won their fantasy league.
However, on the field, where things like defense and base running matter, they built a flawed and arguably bad baseball team. Certainly, this was not a team truly built to compete, and in the end the Mets didn’t.
That’s why Van Wagenen will be gone and why Steve Cohen has zero interest in keeping Jeff Wilpon around in any decision making capacity when the sale is officially ratified by MLB.
Overall, the 2020 New York Mets didn’t underachieve. No, this team did EXACTLY what they were built to do. That was have deGrom be great, the offense hit, and get horrendous defense and suspect starting pitching.
Could you believe all the things the Mets needed to happen for them to make the postseason actually happened? It literally had a less than 2% chance of happening at one point, but it did happen!
Actually, no, that’s not entirely correct. The Mets making the postseason was contingent on them winning out. The Mets didn’t do that part. In fact, they lost their last three, four of five, and seven of their last 10.
By losing their last three games, they finished in last place in the NL East. To add insult to injury, they got completely blown out in the final game of the season.
While it’s terrible having to watch the Mets lose a game like this, there is solace in the fact this is the last game of the Wilpon era. For all they put this fanbase through for nearly two decades, their lasting memory as majority owners is getting their doors blown off with their team being completely embarrassed.
Yes, the Mets will lose games like this is the future. It’s unavoidable. That said, we’ve just seen the last time the Wilpons get to react to this kind of loss. Actually, that time has already passed. Now, they just have to watch and be powerless to do anything about it.
Now, Mets fans have an owner with actual resources to operate a baseball team. He’s hired someone who knows what he’s doing, and he’s going to show both Jeff Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen the door, which will make the Mets infinitely better.
As Brandon Nimmo said before the game, “I’m glad that somebody who is a lifelong Mets fan is going to end up owning the team.” We all feel the same way.
The Wilpons being gone wasn’t the only highlight of the day. Luis Guillorme sports an incredible fu manchu, and he was 2-for-3 with a double, walk, and run.
Pete Alonso was also great hitting two homers. It was fun seeing fan favorites perform this way. It’s even better when it leads to a Mets win. But that didn’t happen.
Instead, we saw the Mets lose just like Jeff Wilpon did. Now, (we ,@6$!@)see him go witwell is as
No, the Mets have not been eliminated from the postseason . . . yet. Sadly, even with some things breaking their way, they couldn’t take advantage:
2. Again, putting deGrom up against pitchers not pitching in the NL or AL East is absurd as NL Central and West pitchers face completely different competition.
3. On that note, the level of competition the two pitchers have faced is completely different with Bauer dominating some of the absolute worst offensive teams in the game.
4. You do have to wonder how different things would be with deGrom’s campaign and really this entire Mets season of Wilson Ramos was capable of tagging a guy at home plate.
5. Edwin Diaz finally has more saves than blown saves this year.
6. Mets continue to be the Mets first announcing Michael Conforto was getting a day off for a must win game and then finally admitting he had a hamstring issue.
7. Conforto’s chances of signing an extension increased not just with Steve Cohen buying the Mets, but also with Sandy Alderson returning to the organization.
8. Should Conforto sign an extension, he’s going to knock David Wright off the top of the Mets all-time leaderboards.
9. It’s a shame Conforto broke down and Dominic Smith went in a slump for the final last ditch push. It’s a downright shame no one was really able to pick them up like they picked up the team this season.
10. Between J.D. Davis batting second or third despite his not hitting and Michael Wacha making starts despite his having no business pitching another inning for this team, it’s clear Brodie Van Wagenen decided to make this season about showcasing his acquisitions in the hopes of getting a new job.
11. Steven Matz went from breaking out in the second half last year to a great Spring Training to maybe pitching his way to a non-tender.
12. Matz is a clear example of a guy Jeff Wilpon would instruct dropped from his team with him being shocked the player succeeded away from the team. For some reason, despite this having happened continuously, there is still a contingent of Mets fans who still defend the team on this type of dumb decisions.
13. Ultimately, the juiced ball last year and the abbreviated 60 game season have made it near impossible to have a real evaluation and analysis of players.
14. Speaking of which, it was great to see Pete Alonso remind us how great he can be. The question is if he can be that over a 162 game season without the juiced ball. There are many indicators which suggest he can, but we still don’t know.
15. The Rays showed the Mets all the things this organization has flat out ignored with defense and good base running actually matter, and the end game isn’t to collect a bunch of bats to plug and play regardless of fit.
16. Again, we see in this series Seth Lugo can be a starter. However, the bullpen is a flat out mess without him.
17. Fortunately, the Mets have the deep pockets of Steve Cohen, and the beginnings of the right front office to address not only the bullpen, but also catcher, third, center, and the rotation.
18. It looks like Alderson is going to get his chance to do what he wanted to do when he took over the Mets. Essentially, that’s exactly what the Dodgers did.
19. After these last four games, it’s good riddance to the Wilpons. That’s both with the Mets and the horrendous SNY they created.
20. There’s no more fitting end to the Wilpon era than the team finishing below .500 despite having a top offense, the best pitcher in baseball, and an expanded postseason.
It’s important to remember Michael Wacha was not good in 2019. He had an 89 ERA+ and a 5.61 FIP. Despite this and his shoulder problems, Brodie Van Wagenen went out and brought in this CAA client.
With Wacha having a 63 ERA+ and a 5.03 FIP this year, you’d think it would be an easy decision to keep him in the pen. Instead, he got the ball over better pitchers or pitchers more deserving of an opportunity.
Wacha was incapable of keeping the game tied or getting his first quality start of the season. Those hopes went away when he allowed a two run homer to Randy Arozarena.
Things went from bad do worse when Chasen Shreve, another CAA client , entered the game. He allowed three in the eighth putting the game out of reach, and as a result, putting the Mets outside postseason hopes out of reach.
The Mets rallied for three in the ninth, but all it did was make the 8-2 game look much closer and competitive.
In the end, the Mets lost 8-5. They’re against endured a losing record, and they’re moving closer to having absolutely zero chance to making the postseason.
But hey, Van Wagenen used the opportunity to boost up the value of the players who are former clients and pending free agents. Hopefully for him, it was well worth missing the postseason.
According to reports, Steve Cohen is bringing Sandy Anderson back to the Mets as an advisor, and he is planning on finding a replacement for Brodie Van Wagenen. Both are excellent and needed decisions.
When it comes to Van Wagenen, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much damage he has done to the well built and talented Mets organization gift wrapped to him from Alderson. Essentially, all that Alderson built needs to be rebuilt.
Van Wagenen was given a starting staff comprised of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz. Behind them were well regarded prospects in Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson.
The Mets rotation over the final week of the 2020 season will be deGrom, Rick Porcello, maybe Matz, and who knows what else?
The position player core was remarkably cheap and talented. There was Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and Amed Rosario. Behind them was Andres Gimenez and Jarred Kelenic.
Sure, there were some bad contracts, but they were short term in nature, and they were not going to serve as an impediment to either building on or retaining this core.
For example, the Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes contacts were set to expire after this season. That coincided perfectly with having to have the money to re-sign deGrom and to have extension talks with Conforto, Matz, and Syndergaard.
Instead, the Mets no longer have Kelenic giving them a buffet against losing one of Conforto or Nimmo. They also have Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract on the books which already served as an impediment to re-signing Wheeler.
That’s nothing to say of the quality prospect purge in the same of finding a late inning defensive replacement in center for a team who already had Juan Lagares and adding J.D. Davis to a team already overstocked in 1B/DH players.
Couple this with the Mets getting rid of Wilmer Flores for nothing only for him to be more productive than anyone Van Wagenen brought into the organization and signing Jed Lowrie for $20 million to get eight pinch hitting attempts, and the Van Wagenen stint as GM has been an unmitigated disaster.
If you want to point to Van Wagenen’s drafts as a positive, you should. However, in doing that, remember, that was a scouting group built by Alderson and Omar Minaya. The Mets will be keeping both advisors.
When you take everything into account, Alderson built the Mets to be a competitive team in 2019 and 2020. With any luck, he had a deep farm system to make the types of trades he made in 2015 to help get the team over the top.
The real window for this Mets team was supposed to open in 2021. Given the talent on the Major League roster and in the farm system, it promised to be a 1980s like run.
Instead, Alderson is back to figure out how yo fix this mess. Fortunately for him, he won’t have Van Wagenen or Jeff Wilpon standing in his way. Instead, he will have an owner with deep pockets who intends to let smart baseball people like Alderson do their jobs.
Lloyd Christmas may want to say there’s still a chance here, but there isn’t. Any realistic shot the Mets had faded when they lost this series to the Atlanta Braves:
2. People rightfully focus on the starting pitching and pitching staff as a whole when examining what a terrible job Brodie Van Wagenen has done. Looking at it Wilson Ramos‘ production against d’Arnaud, and his other moves, he might’ve bungled the catching position even worse.
3. Yes, we saw d’Arnaud be this player in a Mets uniform previously. Yes, it was fair to believe he’d return to his 2015 form post Tommy John. Yes, he has always been a very good catcher. Anyone saying otherwise is lying to you, pushing an agenda, or just doesn’t know that much about catching.
4. You’ll notice with the Wilpons selling Gary Cohen and Brandon Nimmo were quite vocal in their support for d’Arnaud and wishing he didn’t leave the Mets.
5. Nimmo has every right to talk as he’s come back from injury and proven himself to be a terrific ballplayer. He’s just not a center fielder.
6. On the note of people who have performed well, Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, Andres Gimenez, and Jeff McNeil are part of the still young core who have had good seasons and are very much a part of the Mets future.
7. Seeing that young core, we should all celebrate Steve Cohen bringing back Sandy Alderson to the Mets organization. Hopefully, Cohen will right some other wrongs in due time.
8. David Peterson stepped up big time in what was the biggest start of his career. Hopefully, that’s a sign of his figuring things out and raising his ceiling.
9. Rick Porcello stepped up and was phenomenal yesterday. If the Mets truly invest in infield defense this offseason, he can be a part of the 2021 equation.
11. Sending down Luis Guillorme was stupidity. He did everything to earn not just the role he had but a much bigger one at that.
12. Amed Rosario lost his starting job, and he needed a recent hot streak to improve to a .266./283/.379 hitter. He should’ve been sent down.
13. J.D. Davis is hitting .248/.376/.383 since August 1, and he’s incapable of playing a defensive position. He should’ve been sent down.
14. Instead, it was Guillorme so Franklyn Kilome could allow six earned over 1.1 innings giving the Mets zero chance to win a game at a time when they can ill afford to punt games. Another great decision by Brodie Van Wagenen.
16. The Mets are in a precarious spot with Steven Matz. After last year and in Spring Training, he appeared poised for a breakout. Since the return, he looks like a non-tender candidate. These are critical franchise and season altering decisions.
17. Alex Rodriguez confirming he’d have Jeff Wilpon in the front office in a prominent role shows just how much the Mets dodged a bullet when A-Rod failed to beat out Cohen in the bidding.
18. Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon thinking they’re smarter than everyone and watching their team failing to make an expanded postseason is the perfect way for them to leave this organization.
19. Normally, we’d be saying it was time to tear it down and rebuild. Thanks to Cohen and competent baseball people in charge, we know the Mets can build off this strong core.
20. This season has been a massive disappointment, but on the bright side, we got 60 games of Mets baseball. That’s a real positive.
The Mets made that option despite Guillorme having a 0.7 WAR, 143 wRC+, and having a 2 OAA. He’s been a good hitter and an even better fielder. He’s also been a good pinch hitter on his career with a .364 OBP.
It should be noted J.D. Davis continues to be the worst fielder in baseball. Since August 1, he’s hitting .262/.374/.404. Overall, he’s at a 0.0 WAR.
Put another way, Guillorme was optioned despite there being worse players with options remaining staying on the roster. That means the Mets didn’t put their best roster out there at a time when they’re supposedly trying to make the postseason.
With a rusty and possibly not quite fully healthy yet Steven Matz starting and imploding, the Mets were in a 6-0 hole through three. Seeing the Mets overcame bug deficits against the Phillies, there was some hope the Mets could come back.
Kilome took care of that hope allowing six runs over 1.1 innings putting the Mets in a 12-0 hole. Seeing Kilome pitch, you need to remember the Mets optioned their best bench player quite possibly losing him for the rest of the season for this performance.
Adding insult to injury, Travis d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with a run, homer, two RBI, and two walks. The player Van Wagenen didn’t think was good enough for his team is batting cleanup for one of the best teams in baseball, and he’s killing the Mets.
All told, this was an embarrassing and demoralizing 15-2 loss. Make no mistake, this was a direct reflection of just how inept Van Wagenen has been as the Mets GM.
Game Notes: Todd Frazier pitched a scoreless inning.
When Brodie Van Wagenen took over as GM, the Mets organization had an embarrassment of starting pitching depth. He was gifted a starting rotation which had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz.
Now, the Mets rotation this week was literally posted as deGrom followed by a bunch of TBAs. The reason? The starting pitching depth is gone. Kaput!
For some reason, Van Wagenen thought the old adage you could never have enough pitching didn’t apply to him. For some reason, he actually thought he improved the Mets rotation and depth with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.
Someone will undoubtedly argue the Mets pitching staff suffered a number of injuries, and Marcus Stroman opted out. But that completely misses the point. That’s exactly why you need quality depth. That quality depth is long gone.
Now, at the trade deadline, Van Wagenen could’ve looked at this and pursued another starter. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. What we do know is not only did he not obtain a starting pitcher, but he would also get rid of one.
Van Wagenen traded Kevin Smith for Baltimore Orioles reliever Miguel Castro. He traded a promising left-handed starting pitcher who continues to improve and defy scouting reports for a reliever with a career 4.94 FIP and 1.409 WHIP.
Yes, Castro is talented reliever for sure, but his skills have yet to translate to tangible Major League success. This is the guy you take a flier on in the offseason. He’s not the player you overpay to get as your big time late inning reliever to help get your over the hump. Castro has not been and is not that guy.
As for Smith, he’s the latest starting pitching prospect Van Wagenen needlessly traded away for pennies on the dollar. Van Wagenen explained it away like Smith was a future fifth starter. That’s not too different from how he was dismissive of Dunn’s and Kay’s abilities before being shown how embarrassingly wrong he was.
In what should hopefully be Van Wagenen’s last trade deadline, he traded away his fourth starting pitching prospect. You could form what would’ve been a good Major League rotation with what Van Wagenen traded.
Instead, the Mets will gave zero starting pitching depth and next to nothing in return for all of these trades.