Steven Matz

20/20 Hindsight: Mets/Cardinals Rivalry Still Alive

The New York Mets traveled to St. Louis for another litmus test, and once again, they proved they’re this good. More than that, they proved they’re mentally tougher.

1.  Pete Alonso has now been hit twice in the head and dragged to the ground from behind by Stubby Clapp. He’s either going to break or just absolutely going to go on an absolute tear.

2.  On that note, Alonso needs to start hitting for power again. These opposite field singles aren’t going to cut it.

3.  Chris Bassitt basically said he dominated the Cardinals without being able to get a grip on the ball. He’s that good.

4. Miles Mikolas is an idiot. Bassitt threw his pitchers a life-line saying it was MLB’s fault the Cardinals hit his teammates, and Mikolas, who hit Mark Canha with a pitch, basically said, no, it’s not the ball. We’re going it on purpose, or we’re that incompetent.

5.  Sooner or later, Canha has to get an extra base hit, and it has to be more than an attempt at a hustle double. With him coming out of games last for Travis Jankowski, he’s not good enough to be a glorified slap hitter.

6.  Jankowski has proven himself to be a valuable contributor. He cannot be DFA’s May 1. That goes double when you consider how bad Robinson Cano has been.

7. That may not be an issue with J.D. Davis getting hit on the foot and having to get taken out of the game. The x-rays were negative, but if it’s a lingering issue, there will be an MRI and perhaps an IL stint.

8.  Jacob deGrom‘s MRI was a mixed bag. On the one hand, he is healing, but it does not appear he is on schedule to return when we all hoped. Still, it’s progress, so we should take it.

9.  Max Scherzer has been just as advertised. He’s out there pitching like an ace, and he’s as fierce a competitor as there is. He was in the dugout telling the Cardinals to shut up, and then he was the first one out of the dugout when the benches cleared.

10.  Oliver Marmol is a fraud. His pitchers hit Mets batters in the head. Steven Matz threw one up at Brandon Nimmo‘s head. His team knocked Davis out of a game with an injury. He is then going to get up there and complain like the Mets have been throwing at his batters all series, and then he goes and defends Clapp.

11. Nimmo has been great to start the year as has Jeff McNeil. Those are two homegrown Mets who have been the Mets best players, and they are leading them to first place.

12. The Mets are withstanding slumps from Eduardo Escobar, Francisco Lindor, and Starling Marte to win games, and they are doing it against good teams like the Cardinals. That’s a very good sign for the season.

13. With respect to Marte and Scherzer, there is a real edge to this team. We see it in how the players stick up for one another, and we see it in moments like that comeback against Giovanny Gallegos. This is just a special team.

14. Yoan Lopez made a case for himself when he buzzed Nolan Arenado. That alone is not enough to keep him on the roster (ask Jacob Rhame), but he has the respect of everyone in that clubhouse.

15. There is a lot Buck Showalter is getting wrong here. For example, batting Cano during that ninth inning was indefensibly bad. That said, the way he has handled the time share with James McCann and Tomas Nido has been a masterpiece. He’s starting to get the best out of both of them, and as a result, the Mets pitching staff.

16. Trevor May is fighting it. Fortunately, with the return of the real Seth Lugo in addition to the emerge of Drew Smith, the Mets can wait for him to get fully healthy and back on track.

17. There are some serious 1986 vibes with this Mets team. They are not just beating teams on the field, but they are also taking a mental edge. That is a very large reason why we see miscues like we did from Arenado and why Marmol was so bent out of shape.

18. it may be a golden rule not to make the last out of the inning at third, but you can give Luis Guillorme a pass trying to stretch a double to a triple because that throw from Dylan Carlson was the best you’ll ever see.

19. If you want an idea of how good the Mets are right now, the San Francisco Giants are the second best team in the majors with a 13-6 record. Half of their losses have come against the Mets.

20. The New York Yankees have been surprisingly good to start the year. Aaron Judge has been great, and he has a contract situation. Anthony Rizzo has been phenomenal. Gerrit Cole is struggling mightily. They’re in first place. Despite all of that, right now, they seem to be taking a back seat to the Mets. That is really the most shocking development of the year.

Game Recaps

Mets Shock Cardinals

Mets McCann Beat Good Teams on Road

Mets Lose While Cardinals Lose Their Cool

Mets Lose While Cardinals Lose Their Cool

Over the course of a 162 game season, there are going to be games like this. Frankly, Carlos Carrasco just didn’t have it, and as a result the New York Mets just weren’t going to win.

With the Mets winning six straight series to open the season, we shouldn’t be dwelling too much on a game like this. That goes double with the Mets resting players in advance of a travel day.

Where the focus needs to be is how the Mets comport themselves and are rattling their opponents.

Again, Mets batters were thrown at by the opposing pitcher. Steven Matz went up-and-in on Brandon Nimmo. J.D. Davis left the game with a foot injury after being plunked by Genesis Cabrera.

Finally, for the first time all season, the Mets responded in a way that wasn’t Starling Marte or Max Scherzer threatening the other team. Yoan Lopez took the ball and buzzed Nolan Arenado.

It was a pitch reminiscent of Noah Syndergaard and Alcidies Escobar. It was up-and-in, but the batter was not in danger of getting hit. Like with the 2015 World Series, an overreaction ensued.

Arenado chirped, attacked Tomas Nido, and then, he headed for Lopez. He wouldn’t get there as the benches cleared, and Arenado backed off. During the melee, the Cardinals went after Pete Alonso.

That was done by the Cardinals first base coach Stubby Clapp, a coach whose name is reminiscent of what Jimmy Duggan advises young boys to avoid. Things might’ve gotten worse, but Albert Pujols stepped in and de-escalated the situation.

At this point, the Cardinals had hit five batters. That included hitting Alonso in the helmet. Then, they went after him in a scrum.

Chris Bassitt tried to throw the Cardinals pitchers a lifeline by blaming MLB. Instead, Miles Mikolas effectively called Bassitt a liar and said Bassitt needed to take responsibility for his own control issues. Again, this was in response to Bassitt trying to absolve Cardinals pitchers of throwing at his teammates.

After the game, Cardinals manager Oli Marmol not only whined after the non-HBP, but he went on to defend attacking someone from behind:

When Buck Showalter was asked about the same course of events, his reaction was markedly different. He noted how when Alonso was ACTUALLY HIT IN THE HEAD, he went to first base.

This is where the Mets and Cardinals could not be more different. The Mets are angry they keep getting hit by pitches, but they’re channeling that anger towards beating you. So far, it’s not only worked, but it’s also galvanized the team.

With respect to the Cardinals, they couldn’t handle it. They threw with reckless abandon and kept hitting Mets batters.

When the Mets said, we get what’s happening here. It’s not your fault. The Cardinals response was to tell the Mets to take responsibility.

When the Mets three inside, the Cardinals freaked out and attacked Alonso from behind. Then, they went and pretended like all of their actions were justified.

In the end, the Mets are better than the Cardinals because they’re a better and more mature team. Every time you hit them, they get you back by winning. As for the Cardinals, well, they’re there to whine, complain, and point fingers.

The Mets took two of three, and they’ll have the mental edge when the Cardinals come visit Citi Field.

Steven Cohen Led Mets Not Grasping Free Agency

There’s a gag on the show Archer wherein Archer is essentially asked what he can’t understand, and the answer is, “Core concept.” Right now, this applies to the New York Mets and free agency.

Noah Syndergaard was a free agent, who had a qualifying offer in hand and wanted to return to the Mets. However, while the Mets were focused elsewhere, the Los Angeles Angels and other teams were making their pitch.

The Mets immediate response to Syndergaard’s signing with the Angels was they weren’t given the last chance to sign him. Of course, to make that request, they’d actually have to talk to the player.

Not even a week went by, and the Mets are once again upset a player who wanted to return to the Mets didn’t give them an opportunity to make the final offer. This time, it was Steven Matz.

As the story goes, Matz first contacted the Mets, and the team’s interest was mutual. It was a wide open field, but for whatever reason, the Mets not only we’re going to get the opportunity to match, but they were willing to match the deal Matz signed with the St. Louis Cardinals.

However, that’s not what happened. Matz liked the deal and the opportunity presented by the Cardinals, so he signed with them. Mets owner Steve Cohen was angry:

Keep in mind, this was the same Matz the Mets traded for spare parts (Sean Reid-Foley, Yennsy Diaz, and Josh Winckowski). The Mets could’ve extended him last year with zero competition, but they instead traded him.

The Mets getting upset over Syndergaard and Matz not giving them the final chance shows they fail to understand the core concept of free agency. Free agents owe no loyalty to anyone, and they can sign with whomever they want.

For the Mets, you can almost write this off as a fluke. After all, it’s not often these situations present themselves, and it’s really infrequent this happens in a week.

The problem is it’s not just this week. Last year, the Mets thought they had Trevor Bauer signed. Honestly, with the website snafu, everyone did.

When Bauer went to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Alderson complained this was the furthest in the process he went in contract negotiations with a free agent and not get the player. As a result, Anderson and the Mets (fortunately) didn’t sign Bauer.

This marks the third time the Mets thought they were in a great position to sign a player only to come up empty. At some point, that’s a Mets problem and not a agents problem.

Argue over whether the Mets should’ve signed these players all you want. The fact is the Mets lost out on all three, and they wanted all three. That’s a huge problem.

Cohen can pretend it’s the agents fault. It’s not. The Mets are failing to sign players, and all they can do is tweet their way through it.

The Mets need to do better. If they want a player give them a strong offer while they’re there and don’t let them go out and leverage your offer. Just get it done, and then tweet out you actually signed the player.

That’s how free agency works.

Steven Matz Landed In Perfect Spot

As previously noted, Steven Matz has defined himself as the old crafty lefty. He’s a back end of the rotation starter who pitches to contact.

As such, he’s going to succeed or fail largely based on the defense behind him. Considering the New York Mets defense behind him was a sick joke, he faltered.

It was so bad, he went to a bad defensive Toronto Blue Jays team, and it seemed like he was a completely different pitcher. Truth be told, the bad defense is a significant improvement over incompetent defense, and so, he thrived.

This is exactly why St. Louis was the prefect landing spot for Matz. His four year $44 million deal with the Cardinals benefits him and that team.

This past year the Cardinals were the first team to boast five Gold Glovers in Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman, Tyler O’Neil, and Harrison Bader. Notably, two-thirds of the Cardinals outfield was golden.

Remember, Matz is a pitcher who yields batted balls in the air roughly 55% of the time. The Cardinals 29 DRS in the outfield helps him immensely.

Fact is, the Cardinals have long been a defense forward thinking organization. Their entire team had an 81 DRS, good for second best in the majors.

Combine this with Mike Maddux being one of the best pitching coaches in the game, and you have the absolute best place for Matz. There was literally no better spot, and he’s going to thrive there unlike anywhere else.

That’s not to say he wouldn’t have thrived with the Mets. We know he can because we saw it. If he came back to the Mets to work with Jeremy Hefner, their vastly developing and improving analytics department, and their improved defense, Matz would’ve done well.

Matz just wouldn’t have done as well with the Mets as he will with the Cardinals. Truth be told, Matz needed a better situation, and the Mets needed a better pitcher. If the Mets do what they need to do this offseason, this is best for all involved.

Angels Taking Advantage Of Mets

There can be a debate as to when the New York Mets knew they needed a front office overhaul. It could’ve been since the start of the season since they failed to hire a president of baseball operations last year.

It could’ve been as late as Zack Scott’s DUI arrest. Whatever the case, the Mets knew before the end of the season they needed a front office overhaul.

What ensued was a protracted search which missed the mark. First, the Mets again gave up on hiring a POBO. Then, it was a GM search.

While this was happening, other teams went to work on their offseason plans. That goes double for the Los Angeles Angels.

While the Mets had no leadership and no plan, Noah Syndergaard signed with the Angels. While the Mets had radio silence, the Angels were laying out their plan from their assembled front office. The sales pitch and uncertainty had an effect on Syndergaard and his decision:

While Syndergaard was due partially to confusion over the front office, Aaron Loup was something else. Loup was great for the Mets, and he wanted to stay. He didn’t.

During the Mets exclusive window to negotiate with Loup, they were trying to assemble a front office. Again, while this was happening, the Angels were making their pitch to Loup. Obviously, it was a successful one.

So, Billy Eppler hasn’t been on the job for a week, and he’s seen Syndergaard and Loup leave. That’s not to say the Mets aren’t moving. After all, they’re pursuing Steven Matz.

Again, the Mets are working from behind. The Angels aren’t and have struck twice. Who knows where this stops, especially with Marcus Stroman still a free agent.

The Mets have time to act, but free agent starters are flying off the board. More to the point, the Angels are taking some of their best pitchers, and it’s possible it’ll happen again soon.

Steven Matz Would Help, But Isn’t Enough

According to recent rumors, the New York Mets are interested in a Steven Matz reunion. Given Matz’s love of the Mets and his 2021 season, it makes sense.

With the Toronto Blue Jays, Matz made 29 starts going 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA, 150.2 IP, 1.334 WHIP, and an 8.6 K/9. From an advanced stat perspective, he had a 2.0 WAR, 115 ERA+, and a 3.79 FIP.

Looking at Baseball Savant, Matz success was predicated on control and reducing the quality of contact against him. Put another way, Matz is settling into being that crafty lefty who is a mediocre third starter and quality back end of the rotation arm.

While there were some changes to sequencing and the like, Matz’s improvement was mostly due to the Blue Jays defense. With Matz “pitching to contact,” he needs a quality defense. The Mets were never that in his tenure, and he suffered.

While not outstanding, the Blue Jays team 22 DRS ranked 15th in the majors. Again, it’s amazing how much better a pitcher looks with a competent defense behind him. Ironically, the Mets are now much better than that with a 48 DRS in 2021.

Between the shifting and Francisco Lindor, Matz and his ground ball propensity would truly thrive with the Mets. Maybe now, Matz will pitch more like a three. If so, that would be great for the Mets.

The problem is the Mets really need more than that. Their top two starters in Jacob deGrom and Carlos Carrasco are on the wrong side of 30, and they have injury issues heading into 2022. Taijuan Walker was great for the first half, but then he really faltered and ended the year with a 90 ERA+.

In reality, the Mets need two top of the rotation starters. No matter what the adjustments, Matz will never really be that. That’s not a criticism of him. He’s a quality Major League starter, just not the starter the Mets need now.

If deGrom was fully healthy, and if Walker was guaranteed to take the next step, yes, go sign Matz. He’d be a great fit. Honestly, he still might, and no one should be upset if he was signed. That said, the Mets need better.

Mets Core Wasn’t The Problem

With the New York Mets failing to make the postseason, and worse yet, with their collapse, the narrative has become this core hasn’t been good enough to win a World Series. Sandy Alderson seemed to echo that sentiment a bit when he said there were going to be changes to the core this offseason. Of course, with free agency and the like, that was probably going to happen anyway.

Before Steve Cohen purchased the team, the Mets core could probably be defined as Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, and Noah Syndergaard. At least, that was the homegrown core. In that core, you had two ace level pitchers, two All-Star level first baseman (yes, Smith was that in 2020), two All-Star level outfielders, and a jack-of-all trades All-Star.

When you add Francisco Lindor, who joins deGrom as a future Hall of Famer, you’d be hard pressed to find much better cores in all of baseball. This level of talent should be the envy of the other 29 teams in the league. That begs the question what went wrong in 2021.

On the one hand, this was a team which was 3.5 games in first place at the trade deadline. Their high water mark was 5.5 games up on June 16. As we know, this team had the bottom completely fall out as they finished eight games under .500 and 11.5 games back of a mediocre Atlanta Braves team for the division.

The narratives emerged. Luis Rojas was in over his head. The ReplaceMets got them the division lead, but the regulars couldn’t seal the deal. This team had no heart, no will to win, no killer instinct, etc. Basically, chose your narrative and apply it to this team.

In many ways, that’s what people said about the 2007-2008 Mets. As we all learned, firing Willie Randolph wasn’t a solution. Switching out leaders like Cliff Floyd was a mistake. Really, making change for its own sake proved to be a complete and utter disaster. Certainly, so was the Wilpons involvement in a Ponzi Scheme. That said, the level of dissatisfaction with “the core” rather than a real analysis of what was the problem led to the demise of that team.

The real issue with that Mets team was injuries and pitching. During the back-to-back collapses, the pitching completely fell apart at the end. Certainly, Jeff Wilpon playing doctor played a massive role in that happening. In some ways, we’re seeing the same thing happen but with a completely new regime.

Let’s take a look at the 2021 Mets. The first thing which should jump off the page is the team went into the season without a real third baseman or a left fielder. We all knew by Opening Day J.D. Davis could not handle the position, but there he was. Behind him was Luis Guillorme, who was as good a glove in the middle infield as they come, but he was a poor third baseman. After that was Jonathan Villar, but he has never been a good fielder.

As for left field, it’s the Mets mistake as old as time. You cannot just throw anyone in left field and expect it to work. Todd Hundley wasn’t a left fielder. Lucas Duda wasn’t a left fielder. Sticking a good bat in the outfield just never works, and oft times, we see diminishing returns for that player at the plate. While Smith did an admirable job, he again proved he couldn’t play left field.

Of course, the Mets could have gone with McNeil at either position as he’s played both positions well. Instead, the Mets were obstinate he was a second baseman because that was the belief Sandy Alderson stubbornly held during his first stint with the Mets.

This speaks to a real problem with the Mets and how it colored how the core was viewed. Players were asked to do things they shouldn’t have been asked to do. For example, remember Conforto in center field? It’s been an organizational approach to just plug bats everywhere. The end result was the team suffering as players failed to reach their ceilings as they struggled out of position, and we also saw the defense lag.

Now, the defense wasn’t really the problem in 2021. With the analytics and Rojas at the helm, the defense was much improved. However, to a certain extent, the damage had already been done. Steven Matz, who struggled in large part due to the absence of defense and analytics, was cast off for relievers who pitched poorly. We had already seen pitchers like Chris Flexen and Paul Sewald cast off. There’s more.

Really, the issue isn’t the core, but what the Mets did with it and how they built around it. For years, we knew Alonso and Smith were both first baseman, but they Mets absolutely refused to make the tough decision and pick just one of them and try to move the other to address a need. It’s a decision which has held this team back for three years now. As for the justification of the anticipation of the universal DH, that’s no reason to throw away three seasons, especially with Alonso and Smith is going to a free agency after the 2024 season.

Looking deeper, this was a team really harmed by injuries. Really, you can make the argument if deGrom was healthy, they don’t collapse. If Carlos Carrasco isn’t hurt in Spring Training, they don’t collapse. If Syndergaard returns when anticipated, they don’t collapse. However, that happened. That’s more of a sign of a snake bit team than it is a problem with the core.

Really, despite the flaws in roster building, this team was good enough. We actually saw it with this team being in first place despite the injuries and the odds. If you’re being honest in your assessment, you should be saying the Mets need to get a real third baseman and left fielder, and this team will be primed to win a World Series. After all, this team with a relatively shallow pitching staff and being plagued by injuries was on the precipice.

That brings us to the next issue. The front office didn’t try to go for it. There was the opportunity, and they chose not to get the pitching this team needed. There’s no good explanation why they didn’t.

As a result, the people who failed at supplementing a very good core is now going to call it an eroding one. They’re going to allow people to falsely accuse this core of not being good enough to win. It’s complete and utter nonsense, and it completely obfuscates what the real problem is – how this organization has approached building rosters.

Overall, if the Mets bring back this same exact roster replacing Davis at third with a real third baseman and putting McNeil in left field, they will be the best team in baseball. There should be absolutely no doubts about that.

Chris Flexen And Paul Sewald Thrived Away From Mets

In what might’ve been his last start of the season, Chris Flexen picked up his 14th win of the year. Now, there are better ways to adjudge pitchers, but those 14 wins is good for fifth best in all of baseball.

Overall, he had a good year. In 30 starts, he was 14-6 with a 3.67 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, and a 6.4 K/9. He averaged 5.2 innings per start with a 114 ERA+ and a 3.82 FIP.

Overall, Flexen had a very good year, and he appears poised to build on this. With his being under team control through 2026, the Seattle Mariners have a solid rotation arm as they emerge from this rebuild.

The Mariners also have a closer. Paul Sewald has been a great closer for the Mariners. In 58 appearances, he is 9-3 with 11 saves, a 2.83 ERA, 1.011 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, and a 14.6 K/9.

Flexen and Sewald are a big reason why the Mariners are in the postseason picture. Frankly, they are two pitchers who would help any of the 30 Major League teams make the postseason.

The Mariners were smart to pounce on the opportunity to sign them. They look like geniuses for taking former low round picks and got the most out of their talent.

The Mets? Well, again, they look bad here.

The Mets had Flexen and Sewald, and they just gave them away for nothing. They sent Flexen to Korea. Sewald was a straight DFA making him a free agent.

Flexen was unnecessarily rushed to the majors after just seven Double-A starts. He was bounced between the minors and majors and starting and relieving. He’d make an emergency relief appearance not long after a start and then not pitch for nearly two weeks.

Unlike Flexen, Sewald had occasional flashes of brilliance. That was his downfall in the Terry Collins ride the hot hand guide to managing.

One day, he’d be in a pressure spot. In another, he’d pitch three innings in long relief. He’d pitch multiple days in a row and then struggle. Then, he’d be punished and benched.

Mostly due to their usage and how their development wasn’t prioritized, Flexen and Sewald never had a chance with the Mets. No one could really succeed with how they were treated, and as a result, they failed.

Notably, this season especially, Mets pitchers are thriving elsewhere. Steven Matz is also having a good year. While his struggles were different in nature, they were similarly something which could’ve been rectified with the Mets.

You see, far too often, people want to brush players succeeding elsewhere as they couldn’t handle New York. Certainly, this is something which does occur, but it happens far less frequently than people believe.

This isn’t can succeed in New York. It’s can’t succeed with the Mets. That’s a Mets problem and not a player problem.

Some of the culprits are gone from the organization. Jeremy Hefner appears well poised to put the Mets in position to not allow these mistakes to happen again.

As the Mets organization continues to overturn and build, they need an eye towards how to build the best possible organization for players to thrive. Part of that is adapting new practices learned from other places.

Seeing Flexen and Sewald, it’s also taking a look at the Mets previous regime. They need to learn how the Mets were so successful locating these overlooked talents and getting them to the majors. They also need to see how they can make sure they have this success in Flushing.

Luis Rojas Not To Blame For 2021 Season

One day, you’re in first place, and you’re a potential NL Manager of the Year. The next, your team is eliminated from postseason contention with no hope of having a .500 record.

That’s the type of year it has been for Luis Rojas and the New York Mets. As is standard, when a team falls short, the manager faces scrutiny.

It comes with the territory. Obviously, Rojas hasn’t been perfect. Assuredly, he’s made bad decisions, and there are times you wonder what in the world he’s doing.

Go pinpoint your most maddening moment. Make it out to be more than it is. Throw a few more moments on there. Magnify that.

Guess what? That’s not the reason the 2021 Mets didn’t make the postseason. It’s far from it.

In fact, for a while, Rojas was one of the things ruse was right about the Mets. At least, that was the narrative. In the end, blaming or crediting Rojas was just that – narrative.

The truth of the matter is it all fell apart. It wasn’t all at once, but rather in pieces. Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker were the only two starters to last the year with Stroman the only one to have sustained success into the second half.

Offensively, the Mets went with Chili Davis only to utilize advanced data which runs counter-intuitive to what Davis does. We saw the offense have a big letdown.

Francisco Lindor had a slow start. Michael Conforto dealt with COVID and a career worst year. That’s the tip of the iceberg with everyone not named Brandon Nimmo and maybe Pete Alonso having poor to flat out bad years.

Speaking of Nimmo, there were just so many injuries. So, so, so many injuries. When players like Jose Peraza and Jordan Yamamoto were injured, you saw the backups to the backups get hurt.

For his part, Rojas listened to the workload management rules. The front office specifically said it was the player’s fault they got hurt.

That brings us in a roundabout way to a big part of the issue. With last year being a COVID impacted year, depth was more important than ever. For some reason, the front office was cavalier with it.

Steven Matz was traded for two relievers who had little impact and another flipped for the poor performing Khalil Lee. They also made odds unforced errors like designating Johneshwy Fargas for assignment. For our mental health, we probably should’ve dwell too much on Jerad Eickhoff pitching in five games.

Fact of that matter is if Jacob deGrom was healthy, much of this season goes much differently. If the Mets hitters were just a reasonable facsimile of their career stats, the season is far different.

For that matter, if the front office looked at the roster problems and attacked them at the trade deadline, things go differently. At the end of the day, this was a first place team at the trade deadline, and the organization opted to fight another day.

In what way is all of this Rojas’ fault? The simple truth is it isn’t.

We can and should have the debate over whether Rojas is the right man for the job. Realistically speaking, he’s only had one year at the helm, and in that time, he’s shown good and bad.

The issue for any pure novice manager is whether he can grow. No one knows that yet. No one.

What we do know is the Mets shown they can win and fall apart with Rojas at the helm. Both instances were entirely tied to the strength of the roster. That brings us to the front office.

In the end, feel however you want about Rojas. It doesn’t matter because he’s not the reason the Mets disappointed this year. He may eventually be the fall guy but things aren’t magically improving because there’s another manager. The only way that happens is if the roster improves.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Beat Another Good Team

The Toronto Blue Jays of Buffalo came to Citi Field, and like usual, the New York Mets took the series:

1. Luis Guillorme is an absolute magician on the field. That tag between the legs was next level genius.

2. Guillorme also has .417 OBP and 121 OPS+. How he doesn’t play everyday, even when everyone is healthy, is just bizarre.

3. One of the reason the Mets are good is Tomas Nido. On Sunday, he was flashing his cannon picking off one runner and throwing out another. He could start for half the teams in the league.

4. Luis Rojas gets maligned for some reason, but his opting to pinch hit an ailing Jeff McNeil for Nido resulted in a game winning double. Most managers don’t pinch hit for their catcher, especially in the sixth inning.

5. It was absolutely right to pull Tylor Megill. He’s a rookie who threw zero innings in a game last year. You need to keep him going to the finish line and we’ll beyond.

6. Megill has been great, and at this rate, while there are bound to be tough games and setbacks, we should expect him to continue to improve.

7. Keeping Rich Hill in for the sixth was probably the wrong move. At this point in his career, he’s a five and fly. That said, you understand pushing him with the doubleheader and the lack of starters. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

8. Pete Alonso has been a monster, and he’s stepped up big time in Francisco Lindor‘s absence. He won’t win it, but he should get some down ballot MVP votes.

9. J.D. Davis again showed he can’t play third. If you continue playing that glove while relying on a 30.8 K% and .526 BABIP, you’re going to get burned.

10. At the trade deadline, the Mets should call the Cleveland Indians and ask what they want for Jose Ramirez, and then, they should say, “Yes!”

11. Fans who don’t think Kris Bryant and Josh Donaldson are significant upgrades over Davis are just embarrassing themselves.

12. Taijuan Walker has struggled out of the break. He’ll be fine.

13. Maybe Michael Conforto won’t be any good this year. Aside from one outburst in Cincinnati, he’s been bad all year.

14. Brandon Nimmo has been terrific this year, and the Mets should be talking extension with him.

15. Mets really need bullpen help at the trade deadline. While you can count on their top guys, they don’t have depth. With the doubleheaders and just four starters, they’re going to get taxed more.

16. Dominic Smith has continued his resurgence, and quietly, he’s at a 0 DRS in left (even if OAA paints a much different picture).

17. Steven Matz once again proved he can pitch in New York. It was nice seeing him treated well by Mets fans. It’s a shame he still isn’t with the team. They needed him this year.

18. Aaron Loup continues to be phenomenal. When he pitches this way in the postseason, they’ll write ballads about him.

19. Seth Lugo has been good and effective, but he hasn’t been Seth Lugo yet.

20. The Mets seem to have the division wrapped up heading into the deadline with the NL East teams really in position to sell. They need to get healthy, and they can’t let anyone try to make things interesting.