With the Mets reportedly not pursuing Manny Machado this offseason, the Mets have put them in a position where their options to improve their batting order are becoming increasingly limited. That is at least on the free agent market. Instead, the team is going to have to look towards trades to try to improve their roster.
When looking at trades, the team should look much further than any of their oft publicized and discussed needs. Instead, the team should do all they can do to improve their roster. If you are looking to build a World Series contender, that means obtaining Corey Kluber.
If the Mets are able to obtain Kluber, they are going to have the best rotation in baseball, and quite possibly, they could have one of the best rotations of all-time. When you have pitching like that, you win games and postseason series.
Remember, the 2001 Diamondbacks won the NL West and the World Series riding Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. While Luis Gonzalez hit 57 homers that year, the rest of the Diamondbacks team wasn’t great offensively. That team had a 97 wRC+, which was ranked 15th in the majors.
The Mets would have that with Kluber and Jacob deGrom. Kluber has led the Majors in wins over the past three seasons with the second most innings pitched and the third highest fWAR. As for deGrom, he was the best pitcher in baseball last, and we have seen what he can do in the postseason.
As for the Mets offense, well, in the second half of the season last year, they were ranked 11th in the majors. With a 38-30 second half record, the Mets were tied with the Braves for the best record in the NL East. Combining that improved offense with the emerge of Zack Wheeler, and this is suddenly a very scary Mets team, which is something the Mets need to be building.
Notably, Wheeler is a free agent after the 2019 season, and after the 2020 season, deGrom will be a free agent. The biggest hit happens after the 2021 season with Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz becoming free agents. That’s a big chunk of the Mets current core, which means this organization has three years to win a World Series with this group.
It just so happens Kluber is under team control for three years with 2020 and 2021 team options. All told, Kluber is owed just $52.5 million over the next three years giving the team some flexibility to add talent around an ace pitcher.
Now, there will be obvious skeptics as to whether this will work for the Mets. This plan would require buying Amed Rosario making strides. It also requires Jeff McNeil to repeat a second half which was fueled by .368 BABIP. Todd Frazier is going to have to be what he was in April and stay off the disabled list, and Jay Bruce is going to have to learn first base. You are also going to need a full season from Juan Lagares in center.
Then again, maybe you won’t.
Adding Kluber only adds to the possibilities. With Kluber atop the rotation with deGrom, the Mets could look to trade Wheeler at his peak value. Possibly, the Mets could move Wheeler to address other areas of need like their bullpen or a right-handed bat. With Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel being free agents and Lance McCullers missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John, the Astros are certainly a fit. Seeing how Wheeler pitched in the second half, there will obviously be other suitors.
Now, getting Kluber is going to hurt. At a minimum, you are probably talking Peter Alonso, Andres Gimenez, and some other notable Mets prospects. It’s entirely possible, a Major Leaguer will need to be included in the deal. Certainly, giving up your top talent will hurt the system.
However, a more broad based analysis needs to take place here. The Mets window is 2019-2021. After that, the next real wave for the Mets comes a year or two after that as Jarred Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, and Mark Vientos all played in Kingsport this past season. Considering how the talent is structured in the Mets farm system, the time to make a run is right now.
If you’re making that run, the Mets need to go all-out improving this roster. Unless you are spending on the free agent market to get Machado and Bryce Harper, which the Mets aren’t doing, it means trading for big pieces. That means giving up Alonso and Gimenez for a big piece. Right now, there is no bigger piece than Kluber. He’s the real difference maker.
Get Kluber and make a real run at 2019 and 2020. The talent is here, and the Mets have the chips to do it.
Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom will not just take any job. At 35 years old, he can be selective, and he has. In the past, Bloom has outright refused to even interview for the Diamondbacks position. However, he not only has decided to interview for the Mets job, but he is also a finalist for the General Manager position.
Bloom’s interesting in the position should have Mets fans excited about the future of this team regardless of who the team hires to be the General Manager.
There is a lot to like with this Mets team. Just like 2015, it all starts with the rotation. Jacob deGrom has emerged this season as the best pitcher in baseball. Zack Wheeler looked like an ace himself posting the second best ERA in the second half. Noah Syndergaard had 13 wins in a down year, and he had a strong finish to the season. Finally, somehow Steven Matz actually made 30 starts last year. Now that Matz is able to navigate a full season, he can take the next step much like how Wheeler did this year.
There are also the y0ung left-handed bats on this roster. Using wRC+ as a barometer, Brandon Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League last year and in the top 10 of all of baseball. After dealing with the shoulder issues, Michael Conforto hit .273/.356/.539 in the second half. Jeff McNeil emerged from out of nowhere to not just make to the majors but to also claim the second base job for 2019 by posting a 2.4 WAR and 137 wRC+ in just 63 Major League games.
The Mets also have a vastly improving farm system. Andres Gimenez, Peter Alonso, and Jarred Kelenic are viewed by nearly every outlet as Top 100 prospects. After a breakout season, Justin Dunn is on the cusp of cracking those lists as well. David Peterson and Anthony Kay are both left-handers who took steps forward and are not far from the majors.
There are also young players who people have lost enthusiasm but still have talent. Dominic Smith will not turn 24 until August, and there are still many who believe in his talent. For example, Keith Law of ESPN believes Smith could hit better than .262/.346/.459 if given the first base job next year. Before his season ending injury last year, Gavin Cecchini returned to the form he was when he was seen as a future middle infielder for the Mets.
This is before we even consider players like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and even Desmond Lindsay with his retooled swing. The overriding point is the Mets farm system has plenty of talent, and Bloom, a Rays executive with a strong player development background knows this.
Ultimately, this is why Bloom is interested in the Mets General Manager job. This is also why Mets fans should be excited about the future of this team even if Bloom does not get the job because whether or not he gets the job, the talent is already here. It’s now just a matter of that talent continuing their development and winning the World Series.
Back in 2015, the Mets somehow held onto a Game 5 and series clinching win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite having nothing, Jacob deGrom kept the Dodgers to two runs over six innings. That was more than enough as Daniel Murphy took over that game in what was one of the truly great postseason games a player has ever had.
He’d double home the first run of the game in the first off Zack Greinke. On a fourth inning walk to Lucas Duda, Murphy went first to third against a shifted and lackadaisical Dodgers infield allowing him to score the tying run on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly.
The big blow came in the sixth when Murphy hit the go-ahead homer putting the Mets up 3-2.
At the time, the Mets seemed to be the young team on the rise. In addition to deGrom, Syndergaard, and Familia, the team had Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and eventually Zack Wheeler again.
In 2016, both teams returned to the postseason. The Mets captured the top Wild Card spot only to be shut out by Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. That year, the Dodgers would lose in the NLCS to the eventual World Series winning Chicago Cubs (two years later and that sentence still seems bizarre).
After that, the Mets have had consecutive losing seasons while the Dodgers have gone to back-to-back World Series. Why?
Well, for starters, the Dodgers build a deep team with a deep bench. They do not have top heavy rosters which crumble when there is one injury. For example, Clayton Kershaw has not thrown over 175.0 innings in a season since that NLDS, and yet, the Dodgers remain a great team.
Also, while the Mets are off purging the Murphys and Justin Turners of the world, the Dodgers are finding them. In addition to Turner, we have also seen Chris Taylor and Max Muncy figure things out in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers are also not afraid to take risks or trust their young players. Gone from the 2015 team are Howie Kendrick, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Jimmy Rollins. Instead, the Dodgers have players like Cody Bellinger.
For the Mets part, well, Adrian Gonzalez was their Opening Day first baseman.
Mostly, the separation has been financial. The Dodgers ownership has been willing and motivated to keep this championship window as open as possible, and they have with the largest payroll in baseball.
The Dodgers are not just a financial juggernaut, but they are also a supremely well run organization. This is a complete opposite of what the Mets have been, and judging from their current GM search, will continue to be.
This is all why the Dodgers are competing for World Series while the Mets are once again also-rans.
Similar to the Roberto Clemente Award, the MLBPA has the Marvin Miller Award. The Marvin Miller Award is given to the player their peers “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.”
Each team gets to nominate a player, and we have seen upstanding players win this award including Curtis Granderson, who has won it twice. Unsurprisingly, he was nominated again for the award this year.
There will be some stiff competition for this award, but it will not include Steven Matz, who not only donates time a money to the FDNY Foundation, but he also takes an active role with the Special Olympics.
Now, the Mets candidate for the award will be Jose Reyes.
That’s not a joke.
The Mets really chose Reyes to be their candidate for this award. For those who forgot, which clearly includes the Mets players, Reyes is alleged to have grabbed his wife by the throat and shoved her into the sliding glass doors. After hotel security contacted police, Reyes’ wife was taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries to her neck, thighs, and wrists.
This is who Major League players “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.”
Congrats to the players for taking their time to admit to us all they have no issue with domestic violence, and better yet, they believe players who commit violent acts against their wives need to be recognized as role models.
Perhaps more than any season, there is a sense of sadness which washed upon me when the 2018 season ended. Perhaps, it was because my father is another year older, and I have yet to truly experience the Mets winning the World Series with him. Maybe it is because my son follows the game a little bit more and he is starting to become attached to some players, and those players are up in limbo.
There is the sadness with David Wright leaving. He was the most beloved Mets player in history, and he was arguably the best position player this organization has ever produced. He was a Met for his entire career, and he ended his career the right way – on the field. Unfortunately, that career did not end with him winning a World Series.
Past Wright, there are question marks about some other players. Is this the last time Wilmer Flores ever wore a Mets uniform? Are we just waiting for him to shed tears when he is wearing another team’s uniform? Could we have already seen the last of Travis d’Arnaud? How about Juan Lagares? With him in the last year of his deal, he is certainly more tradeable, and there should be savvy teams lining up to acquire his defense. Is he just destined to go somewhere else where the will be able to finally put it all together? Will a new General Manager come in and opt to start a rebuild that would likely begin with trading Jacob deGrom?
Honestly, will Yoenis Cespedes ever be able to play again? He has only had one of the two heel surgeries he needed. Whenever you see a report on him, no one seems to be able to pinpoint a date he can play next year. At some point, you have to question if he will ever really be able to play. That seems like such a big departure from the larger than life figure he has been since joining the Mets.
Really, when you look around the 2015 Mets team we loved so dearly has been slowly trickling away. Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia were traded away this year. Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, and Curtis Granderson were traded away last season. Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Daniel Murphy are distant memories. Bartolo Colon is off making goofy barbecue ads in Texas. Sandy Alderson, the man who orchestrated it all, “took a leave of absence” because he is battling cancer.
What we have left is good, really good. We have seen Brandon Nimmo be the player the Mets hoped he would be when he was drafted. After concerns about his shoulder, Michael Conforto was once again Michael Conforto in the second half. Amed Rosario figured things out in the second half of the season, and Jeff McNeil seemingly came out of nowhere.
We watched deGrom reach a level we never thought possible making him a sure Cy Young award winner. Zack Wheeler went from enigma to ace. Steven Matz actually made 30 starts. Finally, Noah Syndergaard seemed to return to form as the season drew to a close. This is reminiscent of the pitching of 2015, pitching which led the Mets to a World Series.
Looking at it, the Mets had the best ERA in the majors in the second half (2.97), and they had the best record in the division in the second half (38-30). When you combine the finish with the start, you can see there is a World Series contender somewhere in the fabric of that clubhouse. In order for that to happen, the Wilpons are going to have to go out there and get the pieces necessary to put this team over the top. If they were to do so, it would be the first time since they signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran in 2005, and added Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado the subsequent offseason.
Making bold moves like that to this core WILL put this team over the top, especially since Mickey Callaway and his staff grew during the season and showed they can be a coaching staff who can win you a World Series.
There’s a hesitation there. After Madoff, no Mets fan can really be assured this team is going to make the bold moves they need to take this roster over the top. Whatever hope you had was dashed when Jeff Wilpon told us all it was really Sandy Alderson who refused to spend and limited the size of the analytics department.
Thinking back, you realize this is partially why Wright retired without a ring. Sure, the Shea Stadium days were different. The Mets did add the aforementioned players, and they did make the Johan Santana trade. But after that? Well, it was Madoff and always finding themselves one or two players short. After all, the Mets traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons partially because the team believed Eric Campbell, and his major league minimum salary, was part of the solution.
In the end, this is a really likeable team. Watching Nimmo, Conforto, Rosario, deGrom, Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and the rest of this Mets team, you can’t help but like and root for these guys. They are what makes being a Mets fan great. We don’t want to see deGrom, who looks to take up Wright’s mantle as the next great Mets player, leave Flushing without a ring. That can’t happen.
In the end, the ending of the 2018 season was a sad one. Hopefully, that sadness will quickly subside as the Mets go forth and seize the opportunity that is here. Hopefully, the 2019 season is going to be the year we finally see the Mets win another World Series. I hope so because I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to celebrate it with all of my loved ones.
The Mets had won 19 consecutive games in which a Mets pitcher had hit a homer. That included Steven Matz‘s last start when he had homered. Well, Matz woud hit a homer again in this game giving you hope it was going to be 20 straight:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 19, 2018
That homer came off of Aaron Nola, and it not only gave the Mets the lead, but it put a little dent in Nola’s Cy Young case. Certainly, Matz was cognizant of that as after Matz trotted around the bases, he walked up to Jacob deGrom and said, “That was for my friend.”
Really, Matz did all he could do to help deGrom win the Cy Young. In addition to the homer, Matz was good on the mound. In his five innings, he would allow just two hits while walking five and striking out four. In addition to the hitting and pitching, Matz would make an incredible behind the back catch to start a double play:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 19, 2018
With the four walks, Matz’s pitch count was up. At 91 pitches, it made the decision to pinch hit for him in the top of the sixth an easier one than it normally would be.
At the time the Mets had a 2-0 lead because Dominic Smith would double home Brandon Nimmo in the fourth inning. Smith and Nimmo would take part in another two out rally in the fifth. After Nimmo walked because, well that’s what he does, and Dom singled, Gabe Kapler would pull Nola and put it Pat Neshek. Neshek walked Kevin Plawecki to load the bases, and Mickey Callaway sent up Wilmer Flores to pinch hit.
Flores would strike out on three pitches.
That Flores strikeout was a missed opportunity. With the inherited runners on base, it was a chance to put a further dent in Nola’s Cy Young wishes. It was also a chance to tack on some needed runs.
The Mets would add .02 to Nola’s ERA which probably won’t have much impact on his Cy Young chances. Because the Mets failed to take advantage of the opportunity, they would also miss a chance to saddle Nola with the loss. Well, it was the missed chance and the bullpen implosion.
Jerry Blevins started the fire by walking Carlos Santana and hitting Aaron Altherr with a pitch. Callaway then brought on Drew Smith, who just could not get anyone out. First, it was a Wilson Ramos single. Then a Justin Bour double. Finally, Jorge Alfaro homered. Anthony Swarzak would come on and get the Mets out of the inning without allowing another run.
But by then, it was too late. The Mets fell behind 5-2, and they did not have another run in them. It didn’t matter much as the chance to really dent Nola’s Cy Young case went by the wayside.
Game Notes: In a recent BBWAA poll, deGrom was overwhelming voted as the Cy Young winner.
In an emotional press conference, David Wright announced he was playing on Saturday, September 29th and never again. While we’ve already entered into a post-Wright Mets era, this was a crushing confirmation of the news.
With news like this, the last thing on most people’s minds was playing a game. Let alone two. And yet, there was a scheduled doubleheader.
In the first game, we were treated to a terrific performance from Steven Matz.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 13, 2018
Overall, Matz pitched 6.1 innings allowing three earned on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
It seemed the Marlins were going to win this game 3-2, but that was until Don Mattingly made a mistake. Instead of sticking with Adam Conley, who absolutely owns the Mets, Mattingly went to Kyle Barraclough because Amed Rosario was due up.
While Smith wouldn’t deliver, Michael Conforto would hitting a game tying homer off Barraclough. It was his fourth homer in five games.
Three pitches later, Todd Frazier would hit a walk-off homer.
With that, the game ended with a homer by Wright’s heir apparent for best homegrown position player followed by a homer by the guy signed to replace Wright. Really, it was quite the fitting ending.
But still, there was more baseball to be played.
Vargas would get the win for a few reasons. Chief among them was his catcher Tomas Nido, who made a great play in the field
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) September 14, 2018
before hitting his first career homer
Tomas Nido, the @Mets' No. 12 prospect, went deep to left for his first MLB homer. The 🚀 went 400 feet and had an exit velocity of 101.9 mph. Watch live: https://t.co/nY6ru3JzAQ pic.twitter.com/n8SdejjbMq
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 13, 2018
The Nido solo shot opened the scoring for the Mets in a three run inning capped off by a two out Conforto RBI double.
That 3-2 lead would hold up as Seth Lugo was as dominant as you can be in his two innings. In fact, Lugo would strike out five of the seven batters he faced.
The Mets built a seventh inning rally starting starting with a Jeff McNeil two out single. As the inning progressed, the Mets scored insurance runs on singles by Conforto and Smith.
That 5-2 lead proved to be save for Robert Gsellman to shut the door on a seemingly rare doubleheader sweep.
With the sweep, the Mets are now just 10 games under .500 for the first time since June 21st.
That would start with Jay Bruce hitting a first inning homer, and it would continue thanks to the younger players on the Mets roster.
Nola would make a tough pitch, but with McNeil being excellent with his bat control, he was able to put a cricket swing on the pitch and hit it into right field for an RBI double.
For a moment, it looked like Bruce was going to drive home McNeil, but he was robbed by Carlos Santana.
At that point, it was tied at 2-2 with Steven Matz matching Nola pitch for pitch. Over his five innings, he allowed two earned on three hits while walking two and striking out eight.
Those two runs were the result of a Santana homer. As it would turn out, Santana would not be the only first baseman flashing leather and hitting homers.
In a surprise decision, Dominic Smith got the start at first against one of the best pitchers in the National League despite not having started a game in over a week. Despite the difficult circumstances, Smith would deliver:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 8, 2018
That homer would tie the game at 3-3, but the Mets would not be able to pull this one out as the young bullpen was not up for the task.
Tyler Bashlor entered in the seventh, and he dominated the Phillies with two strikeouts and a pop out. The problem would be Callaway left him in for the eighth.
In the eighth, Rhys Hoskins hit a leadoff homer to put the Phillies up 4-3. The Phillies couldn’t muster a rally past that as McNeil and Smith combined to make a phenomenal defensive play:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 8, 2018
Overall, the Mets would increase Nola’s ERA from 2.23 to 2.29, but they would also give him his 16th win of the season. Time will tell if this will be sufficient to help deGrom.
Game Notes: While downplaying the possibility David Wright will return this season, John Ricco admitted he has not spoken to Wright.
Three years after his Major League debut, it’s still difficult to make heads or tails with Steven Matz. There are days he looks absolutely terrible, and then there are days like today.
In seven innings, he completely dominated the Giants with a career high 11 strikeouts. It was the first double digit strikeout game of his career.
Unfortunately for him, what was arguably the best start of his career was just a no decision as the Mets bats are ice cold and Evan Longoria hit a fourth inning solo homer off Matz. It was just one of three hits off Matz all day.
On the other side, Derek Holland was shutting down the Mets. He was not as dominant as Matz, but he was in control all game.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 1, 2018
In the sixth, the Mets had a chance to take the lead, but Todd Frazier had some really poor base running.
Worse yet, on a Michael Conforto infield single, Hanson picked Frazier off third base:
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) September 1, 2018
Finally, in the top of the 11th, one of these two teams would get a hit with Wilmer Flores leading off the inning with a double off Hunter Strickland. He’d move over on a Jay Bruce groundout, and he scored on a go-ahead Frazier sacrifice fly.
Robert Gsellman, who has been struggling of late, pitched a perfect ninth with some help from Nimmo:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 1, 2018
That Nimmo catch sealed the Mets win in a game completely dominated by pitching. That domination was headlined by Matz, who we can only hope has turned the corner much in the same way we have seen Zack Wheeler do this year.
Game Notes: With the Giants starting Holland, the Mets sat Jeff McNeil in favor of Flores at second. Bruce played first.
The Nationals scoreless streak had reached 32 innings, and with the way Steven Matz was pitching, it seemed like that streak may reach all the way to 36 innings with the Mets completing a sweep where they allowed no runs.
For a second in the sixth inning, Trea Turner looked to snap that streak with a lead off home run, but the umpires on the field ruled it was a double. It was a call upheld on replay:
Crew Chief reviews call that Trea Turner did not hit a home run in the 6th, call stands, no home run.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) August 26, 2018
While it didn’t go out, it was just a matter of time before the Nationals scored. Anthony Rendon singled Turner to third, and Turner would score on a Juan Soto ground out. Matz would get out of the inning without allowing another run, but the damage was done.
Matz was destined to lose this game as the Mets mustered only three hits in the entire game against Jefry Rodriguez and the Nationals bullpen. Jeff McNeil was one of the three Mets who got a hit, and he would leave the game in the seventh with a strained quad.
Entering the eighth, Paul Sewald took the mound to try to keep the game to one run hoping beyond hope the Mets could run into one and tie the score. Instead, Sewald imploded.
Sewald loaded the bases and walked in a run. Then Bryce Harper entered the game as a pinch hitter, and he unloaded the bases with a three RBI double. On that play, Jose Reyes took the relay throw and spiked the throw home. With Tomas Nido unable to field the throw, Soto would score easily.
All told, it was an eight run inning with five runs charged to Sewald and three charged to Bashlor.
In the ninth, Corey Oswalt, a starting pitcher, was asked to come in and pitch an inning. On the bright side, he accomplished that task by recording three outs in the top of the ninth. On the downside, he pitched terribly.
The Nationals were were clearly not running up the score going station-to-station instead of taking the extra base. This led to them loading the bases. Difo first singled home a run, and Spencer Kieboom walked to force home a run. Mark Reynolds would then unload the bases with a grand slam.
That would make the score 15-0. To put in perspective how poorly this Mets season has gone, this wasn’t even the Mets worst loss to the Nationals. On July 31st, the Mets would lose 25-4 against the Nationals, which was the worst loss in franchise history. So to that extent, today’s game wasn’t so bad.
Game Notes: Jay Bruce played all nine innings at first base.