T.J. Rivera

Mets Big Name Rumors Are Now Neil Walker And Adam Lind

When individual game tickets were made available to the general public, the Mets began a real push towards hyping up the fan base.  There were any number of rumors linking the Mets to trade targets Mets fans have coveted like Jason Kipnis and Dee Gordon.  But it was more than that.

The Mets were also indicating they were not settling.  Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo may very well be a terrific platoon in center field next season, but the team was at least going to inquire on Lorenzo Cain.  Not only were the Mets interested in Shohei Otani, they were also interested in signing Jacob deGrom to a contract extension.

There were even reports Dominic Smith, who struggled during his brief stint in the majors, was not guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster.   The big name mentioned there was Carlos Santana who the Mets labelled as a difference maker.

Many Mets fans, like myself, were skeptical, especially given the timing.

Well, when it comes to the New York Mets, the skeptics were once again prove to be correct.

As shoppers looked for their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, the Mets themselves began to look for deals themselves on the free agent market.  Put another way, the Mets rumors have begun to shift away from Ian Kinsler and Eric Hosmer type of free agent acquisitions and now we are really at the point where many believed the Mets would be all along.

Recent rumors have the Mets interested in Neil Walker to play second base and signing Adam Lind to play first base.

When it comes to Walker, the reunion makes sense even if it is not exactly awe inspiring. He was one of the rare players who was able to elevate his game in a Mets uniform. Walker was not only able to handle the pressures of playing in the New York market, but he was also able to thrive in it.  Even with his injury history, you can justify this move with his solid clubhouse presence and the Mets depth at the middle infield position with Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera.

And yes, you can more than justify Lind.  This was a guy who hit .303/.362/.513 for the Nationals last year in part-time duty. The left-handed hitter abuses right-handed pitching making him a natural platoon partner with Flores at first base.  He’s not a great defender at first base or left field, but he is arguably capable making him good depth in the event Smith actually does win the job in Spring Training.  Even if Smith doesn’t win the job, Lind would not stand in his way in the event the former first round draft pick figures things out.

So yes, Walker and Lind are justifiable moves that will make the Mets better in 2018.  However, they are not the big ticket items the Mets were hyping when tickets first went on sale.

Most fans anticipated this being a Walker and Lind type of offseason.  If the Mets really addressed their bullpen where they had shut down relievers from the sixth or seventh inning on, Mets fans would have bought in.  There would have been some excitement for the 2018 season especially with a healthy deGrom and Noah Syndergaard all season.

Instead, the Mets sold us a false bill of goods to artificially try to get a push for people to purchase individual game tickets when it went on sale.

If you are inclined to disagree with this premise and don’t find the timing suspicious at all, ask yourself if you truly believe the Mets are bringing in one or two big names this offseason.  If the answer is no or the Mets do indeed fail to bring in the big names, can we then agree to stop giving this organization any benefit of the doubt?

For Thanksgiving, What Each Met Should Be Thankful For

On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:

Nori AokiHe looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.

Jerry BlevinsThroughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.

Chasen BradfordWith his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.

Jay BruceHe learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.

Asdrubal CabreraAs we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family.  With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.

Jamie CallahanOne day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.

Gavin CecchiniHe made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors.  That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.

Yoenis CespedesWith Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.

Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.

Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.

Jacob deGromWith him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.

Lucas Duda – The slugger was the first Mets player traded at the deadline, and he temporarily got to avoid the We Follow Lucas Duda filming.

Josh EdginHe could be the only pitcher in the history of the Mets organization who is capable of getting both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy out.

Phillip EvansAfter winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.

Jeurys FamiliaBlood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.

Chris FlexenAs we learned with Mike Pelfrey, being a Mets pitcher who struggled in the majors after completely skipping Triple-A will get you career earnings of roughly $47 million.

Wilmer FloresHe fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.

Sean GilmartinWith his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad.  It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.

Erik GoeddelNo matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis GrandersonHe had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.

Robert GsellmanHe has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.

Matt HarveyBetween the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.

Ty Kelly He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.

Juan LagaresWith all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.

Seth LugoAs we learned in the WBC and regular season, when he’s blonde, he’s Cy Young the first two times through the order.

Steven MatzWith him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.

Kevin McGowanHe will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.

Tommy MiloneHe was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.

Rafael Montero For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.

Tomas NidoEven with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.

Brandon NimmoNo one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.

Tyler PillIn a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.

Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.

Neil RamirezSomehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.

AJ RamosTo him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.

Addison ReedHe was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.

Jose ReyesThe Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.

Matt ReynoldsHe got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him.  Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.

Jacob RhameHe’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.

Rene RiveraAfter failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.

T.J. Rivera – With Warthen and Ramirez gone, he’s not going to have to worry about anyone mishandling his return from Tommy John.

Hansel RoblesIn his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.

Amed RosarioHe didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.

Fernando SalasDespite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.

Paul SewaldAs a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.

Dominic SmithHe finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s.  (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)

Josh SmokerAfter the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.

Noah SyndergaardMr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.

Travis TaijeronWith the Dodgers just signing him to a minor league deal, he is now all but assured of becoming the next Justin Turner.

Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.

Adam WilkBecause Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.

Zack WheelerInstead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.

David WrightDespite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.

Terry CollinsAt the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what.  We should all be so lucky.

Dan WarthenHe found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.

Kevin LongAfter departing the Mets, he was able to smuggle the page out of his binders that showed exactly how he turned Daniel Murphy into Babe Ruth.  He can now bring that with him to Washington.

Sandy AldersonCollins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.

Mets FansWell, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Why Ohtani Will Not Be A New York Met

Like seemingly every Major League team, the New York Mets are interested in obtaining the Japanese Babe Ruth –  Shohei Ohtani.  While it is good to hear the Mets are in fact interested in entering the race for the pitcher/hitter, no one should expect the Mets to get him.

This isn’t a financial reason either.  Ohtani comes with a $20 million posting fee which is only accepted by the team who is deemed to have one the claim.  The Mets can only offer him a bonus from their international bonus pool which currently stands at $150,000.  This pales in comparison to the $3,535,000 the Rangers could offer him or the $3,250,000 the Yankees could offer him.

Now, the Mets don’t have the pool money those teams have because the Mets have spent their money acquiring players.  The one caveat here is if Ohtani really wanted to come to the Mets, the Mets could very well trade for additional pool money.

The issue is why would Ohtani want to come to the Mets?  Given the Collective Bargaining Agreement constructs, Ohtani is going to make roughly the same amount as T.J. Rivera did last year.  If he waited two years, he’d possibly get Giancarlo Stanton‘s contract.  In many ways, you could argue, Ohtani isn’t motivated as much by the money as he is by the chance of accomplishing his dream of playing in the majors.

For him, that means both pitching and hitting.  Likely, that means Ohtani belongs in the American League where he could DH on a somewhat regular basis.  During his five year career in the Japanese Leagues, his positional breakdown was as follows: P (85 G), RF (57 G), LF (7 G), DH (256 G).

Consider for a moment, Ohtani has not appeared in the outfield since 2014.  There are a few reasons for that including Ohtani’s recent medical history.  A bigger reason is a team does not want their top of the rotation starter airing it out in right field to try to nail a runner at the plate, nor do they want that pitcher diving to catch a ball and risk the injuries we have seen Juan Lagares suffer the past few seasons.

You could argue this could lead a team to try to move him to first base.  However, if you view Ohtani as a top of the rotation starter, would you be willing to risk a Cliff Floyd Todd Hundley type of collision?  There is next to no chance you would do that, and that is even before you consider a team not wanting to waste teaching Otani a new position in lieu of working with his new pitching coach.

As much as National League teams want Ohtani, they really can’t afford the risk of playing Ohtani everyday.  You don’t want him in right field a day after he threw 100 pitches.  Accordingly, there are some necessary off days he is going to need.  Every National League team knows this, including the Mets.  Ohtani and his agents know this as well.

If Ohtani really wants to pitch and hit, he’s really limited to the American League where he can DH on the days he’s not starting.

Of course, there is still every possibility Ohtani really does want to do it all, which would include fielding.  To be fair, there haven’t been comments from Ohtani regarding his wants from that regard.

Still, if you were a betting man, you would likely bet on Ohtani choosing an American League team because that is the team best suited for not only his talents, but also for his own personal goals.  If that is the case, while we can point fingers at the Mets for missing out on players over the years, they will not be to blame for missing out on a once in a generation type of talent.

Assessing The Mets Second Base Trade Targets

Looking over the free agent roster and the Mets internal options, second base may be the most difficult position to fill.  Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and T.J. Rivera each have the bat, but they don’t have the glove. Additionally, Rivera is coming off of Tommy John surgery.  Gavin Cecchini and Phillip Evans have the glove, but they don’t have the bat.

Accordingly, the Mets may best suited to make a trade for a second baseman.  There are some interesting, yet flawed, candidates available:

Dee Gordon

2017 Stats: .308/.341/.375, 20 2B, 9 3B, 2 HR, 33 RBI, 60 SB, 16 CS
Advanced: 3.4 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR, 94 OPS, 92 wRC+, 3 DRS
Salary: 3 years, $37.9, 2021 option ($1 million buyout)

For Mets fans, Gordon seems to be the cure to many ills.  He is a top of the order hitter who steals bases and has a good defensive reputation.  The problem with Gordon is much of his reputation is based upon a career year in 2015, and he has yet to replicate that season.  Overall, he’s been a great base stealer, average defender, and someone who does not walk nearly enough to hit atop the order.  Between that and the salary, the Mets should look elsewhere.

Josh Harrison

2017 Stats: .272/.339/.432, 26 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 47 RBI, 12 SB, 4 CS
Advanced: 3.3 bWAR, 2.6 fWAR, 101 OPS+, 104 wRC+, 6 DRS
Salary: 1 year, $10.25 million (Team options next two seasons)

Harrison seems to be the type of player the Mets covet this offseason due to his versatility.  He’s been a good defender at second, and he can handle himself at third and both corner outfield positions.  He also has a reasonable contract with reasonable team options in succeeding years.  There are two caveats with Harrison.  First, Harrison does not draw many walks.  More importantly for a Mets team unable to keep players on the field, Harrison has his own injury issues.

Ian Kinsler

2017 Stats: .236/.313/.412, 25 2B, 3 3B, 22 HR, 52 RBI, 14 SB, 5 CS
Advanced: 2.1 bWAR, 1.5 fWAR, 90 OPS+, 91 wRC+, 6 DRS
Salary: 1 year, $11 million

With the season Kinsler just had, it’s fair to question whether he’s done at 35 years old.  Even with the dropoff, he was still a good defender at second, and he maintained a respectable 9.0% walk rate.  Like most of his career, he had a good start to the season, hit lefties well, and he tapered off as the season progressed.  It’s possible being put in a new situation with a new manager will be able to rejuvenate him.  Even if it doesn’t, you’re still getting a good defender with a solid clubhouse presence at a somewhat reasonable cost.

Jason Kipnis

2017 Stats: .232/.291/.414, 25 2B, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 6 SB, 2 CS
Advanced: 0.4 bWAR, 0.7 fWAR, 81 OPS+, 82 wRC+, -2 DRS
Salary: 2 years, $28.3 million ($16.5 million 2020 option)

After being a reasonably healthy player, Kipnis had an injury plagued year that kept him off the field and helped lead to a career worst year.  Ever the team player, Kipnis came back from the disabled list, and with him having been supplanted at second base by Jose Ramirez, he went to center field.  With Ramirez playing a terrific second and the emergence of Yandy Diaz, it’s rumored the Indians may be willing to move Kipnis.

It’s also likely it’s going to be a high price tag.  Kipnis has a reasonably salary, and the Indians could use him at either first of the outfield depending on what happens with Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce.  Considering he’s a 4.0+ WAR player when healthy, he might just be worth whatever price the Indians demand.

Ben Zobrist

2017 Stats: .232/.318/.375, 20 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS
Advanced: 0.5 bWAR, 0.3 fWAR 79 OPS+, 82 wRC+, 5 DRS
Salary: 2 years, $29 million

After the 2015 season, the Mets thought Zobrist might be the player to take them over the top, and they vigorously pursued him in free agency.  The Mets were proven to be correct when Zobrist was the 2016 World Series MVP.  For those that believed Zobrist’s deal was going to be harsh at the tail end, they seemed to be proven correct with Zobrist having a poor year where he looked every bit of his 36 years of age.

Still, Zobrist is just one year off of being a good major league player, a good defender at second, and every bit as versatile as he’s always been.  While he’s not officially on the trade block, the Cubs are nearing a bit of a roster crunch with Albert Almora staking a claim in CF and Ian Happ proving he should be an everyday player.  Unless the Cubs want to pay Zobrist big bucks to be a utility player, they may look to move him, and the team has been known to like Seth Lugo.  This isn’t saying that’s what gets it done for both sides.  Still, it’s interesting the Cubs have a player the Mets want, and the Mets have a player the Cubs want.  This could lead to trade discussions, and Sandy getting a player he has long coveted.

Overall, the Mets would be improved by getting anyone of these players, but that does not necessarily mean that is the best allocation of resources.  Given the contract length and what should be a relatively low sales price, it would seem Kinsler should be the Mets top target.  If the Mets had more talent available in their farm system, perhaps then you may be more willing to pursue a Kipnis or Harrison.

Free Agency Won’t Be The Easy Way To Build The 2018 Mets

With free agency beginning last night, the Mets now have the opportunity to fill-in many of the holes the team has in free agency.  In no particular order, those holes are second, third, center, bullpen, fifth starter, and maybe even catcher.  In addition to that, the Mets have to build a bench, which is something they overlook in the offseason year-in and year-out.

During Sandy Alderson’s tenure with the Mets, he predominantly makes his big moves in free agency, and he stays away from the big trades.  That is something he tends to do more during the season to address problems with the roster.  To that end, we will likely see the team’s needs addressed through a combination of free agency and the team’s internal options.

One of the issues in building the roster is the payroll seems to be limited.   That’s not limited by recent standards.  Rather, there are indications the payroll will be going down.  According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Mets payroll could drop by $20 million to the $135 million range.

Previously, MMO estimated the Mets current payroll commitments, factoring in likely arbitration raises, will be between $109 – $119 million.  That includes the options for Blevins and Cabrera, which the Mets recently picked up. As of the moment, the Mets roster shakes up like this:

C: Travis d’Arnaud
1B: Dominic Smith
2B: Wilmer Flores
3B: Asdrubal Cabrera
SS: Amed Rosario
LF: Yoenis Cespedes
CF: Brandon Nimmo
RF: Michael Conforto

Bench: Kevin Plawecki, T.J. Rivera, Matt Reynolds, Juan Lagares

SP: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler
RP: Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, Josh Smoker, Jerry Blevins

Judging from the aforementioned 24 players, the Mets have a lot of work to do, and with few exceptions, no one should feel their job is safe.  Still, the Mets really only have somewhere between $15 – $25 million to spend in the offseason. This means the Mets are going to have to spend it wisely.

For starters, this probably means the jobs of d’Arnaud and Plawecki are safe.  It also should mean that even with their comparative struggles, Rosario and Smith will begin the season on the Opening Day roster.  From there, the Mets are going to have to make some tough choices among the players who could fulfill the Mets needs.  It’s an even bigger issue than anticipated considering the MLB Trade Rumors projections:

There are other options, but this seems to be a fair sampling of the types of players the Mets should be targeting to bring them back into the postseason picture in the National League.

Reviewing those options, it seems as if you get one of the top tier players, the Mets are shut out from adding a second impact player.  This means unless the Mets expand the budget, signing a Cain to play center means Cabrera at third and a veteran like Howie Kendrick to compete with Flores at second.  Considering that, the Mets may feel comfortable that Lagares’ defense and Nimmo’s OBP are good enough to handle the center field position.

Considering the Mets real needs, the team’s best bet is going to be a player like a Frazier for third because that would free up some money to pursue another difference making player whether that be a Reed or Walker reunion, or the addition of a Sabathia to take over the Bartolo Colon sized hole on the roster.

In the end, the roster and the budget are going to make this one of Alderson’s toughest offseasons.  Likely, he’s only going to be able to get two bigger named players, and he’s going to have to fill out important roles with internal options that failed last year or veterans who you pray have a Jose Valentin type of season.

 

Mets Uniform Assignments A Small But Interesting Issue

With the Binghamton Rumble Ponies season over, the New York Mets have called up top catching prospect Tomas Nido to serve as the team’s third catcher for the final few weeks of the season. Once he arrived in the clubhouse, he was issued the number 77. 

Now, it’s possible Nido selected the number himself as “his” number 7 was unavailable because it’s already being worn by Jose Reyes. However, the assignment of the number follows an odd pattern where the Mets typically have used number assignments to distinguish between top prospects and others. 

The most recent example was Phillip Evans being assigned 72. His number in the minors was 13, which is currently occupied by Asdrubal Cabrera. There’s a large chasm between those two numbers. 

That’s not the case for Amed Rosario (#1) or Dominic Smith (#22). They had the benefit of their Las Vegas numbers being available, and as such, they were given their numbers.

This is unlike former Mets first round pick Brandon Nimmo. Like Nido, he wore 7 in the minors. When Nimmo was called up last year, Travis d’Arnaud wore the number. Unlike, Nido or Evans, he didn’t get a number in the 70s. Instead, he was assigned 9. 

Later that season, Seth Lugo couldn’t wear 27 because of Jeurys Familia. He was given 67. The fact Lugo was removed from the Las Vegas rotation earlier that year was certainly of consequence. 

Robert Gsellman wore 24, a number mostly out of circulation to honor Willie Mays. The pitcher rushed to the majors was given 65. Chris Flexen had a similar rise this year. His 33 in St. Lucie wasn’t available due to Matt Harvey and his Binghamton 46 was worn by Chasen Bradford. Flexen was given 65. 
By the way Flexen was given that number because his 29 was already worn by Tommy Milone

Bradford’s Las Vegas teammate Paul Sewald is wearing 51 because the Mets have taken Keith Hernandez‘s 17 out of circulation. 

Now, this isn’t to say Sewald should wear 17, or that he didn’t select 51. Same goes for players like Bradford whose preferred number is being worn by a Major Leaguer. 

However, again, there is a real difference between saying no to 13 and assigning the number 72. It isn’t something the team did to Nimmo, but then again, he’s a well regarded prospect. 

The really own exception to this is  Travis Taijeron and his switch from 18 to 28. 

And Taijeron really is an anomaly unless you believe T.J. Rivera (#3) and Ty Kelly (#11) really wanted to wear 54 and 56 because Curtis Granderson and third base coach Tim Teufel already had their uniform numbers.  Really, it’s not likely. 

No, the truth of the matter is the Mets are really only inclined to allow a prospect to pick their own number upon a call up to the majors unless they’ve already been deemed a top prospect. 

Look, we know Rosario is a better prospect than Rivera ever was. Likely, Rosario will be a much better player. Still, that does not mean Rosario gets to pick a number, but Rivera shouldn’t. They’re both New York Mets. They should be treated as such. 

Overall, this is far from the biggest issue with this team, but it is an issue nevertheless. It shows why certain players get chance after chance after chance while those that produce have to continue to reprove themselves. The reason is because the Mets seek confirmation bias rather than results. 

Want to know which players are which?  Just look at the uniform numbers. 

Mets May Have Soured On Cecchini Before He Gets His Shot

With Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes suffering injuries, we got to see Travis d’Arnaud shift all game between second and third base.  With the Mets not wanting to be put in that situation again, the Mets have flown both Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini to New York as a precaution.  In the event both Reynolds and Cecchini are activated, it appears that Reynolds, not Cecchini, will be the one who will get playing time.

Before the game and before injuries were an issues, Sandy Alderson informed reporters he was inclined to give Reynolds a long look in September.  Alderson also stated the team will not be giving Cecchini a long look at second base in September.  Alderson’s statements could be interpreted to mean the Mets are now moving on from Cecchini.

In one sense, this shouldn’t be that surprising.  After struggling at shortstop and with the rise of Amed Rosario, Cecchini was moved to second base.  While he has been good defensively at second, he has taken a step back offensively.

Cecchini had a breakout offensive season in 2015 in Binghamton.  He continued that success last year in both Las Vegas and the Arizona Fall League.  Seeing him hit .267/.329/.380 this season, it makes you question what was the issue with him.

There are some plausible explanations for this.  For starters, Cecchini’s 2015 and 2016 stats were partially fueled by a high .348 and .357 BABIP.  Certainly, his being an aggressive contact line drive hitter with low walk and strikeout rates, he is susceptible to swings in his BABIP from year to year.  To that end, it may not be such a surprise to see Cecchini see his BABIP drop to .329 this year and his offensive stats drop they way they have.

Another possible explanation is Cecchini has had to put extra work and attention to learning second base.  With the Mets focus this season with making their players more versatile, Cecchini has also had to work on his play at shortstop.  This is a plausible explanation as to why we have seen Cecchini struggle at the plate this year.

Still, this is a talented player.  It was one of the reasons the Mets made him their first round draft pick (12th overall) in 2012.  In his two brief stints in the majors, he has not been over-matched at the plate.  Last year, he hit two doubles in seven at-bats.  In his call-up this year, he had a four game hitting streak that included a home run off Clayton Kershaw. Seeing this, and how much the Mets have invested in him, it seems peculiar the Mets would just pass on giving him an extended look in the majors.

Then again, this seems to be a pattern with Sandy Alderson.  He and his front office have truly struggled with contact hitters like Cecchini who have not shown power at a young age.  Many will point to his decision to non-tender Justin Turner, but there is also the way the Mets have handled T.J. Rivera.  The team continuously passed him over for players who did not pan out.

Cecchini may or may not be an everyday second baseman or even a Major League player.  At this point, we don’t know, but it also seems odd to take that stance when he’s still just 23 years old, who has not been afforded the opportunity to receive the benefit of Kevin Long’s tutelage.   There’s also the matter of the Mets giving playing time to Reyes, Flores, and Asdrubal Cabrera.  In large part, the Mets know what they have in them, and for the most part, they haven’t been good enough to help the Mets win this year.

We don’t know that with Cecchini.  It’s time to give him a chance.

 

Flexen’s Tough Debut

This was about a bizarre a debut as you will possibly see. Unfortunately, that wasn’t always a good thing for Chris Flexen

On the third pitch of his Major League career, he allowed a homer to Manuel Margot. The inning would continue, and the Padres would have runners on the corners with one out. That’s when Travis d’Arnaud would help his young pitcher with two outstanding tags:

The first was off a nice play from Flexen to field a Cory Spangenberg safety squeeze. d’Arnaud then blocked the plate and get the tag down on Carlos Asuaje

During the next at-bat, Spangenberg broke for second. With d’Arnaud throwing through, Wil Myers broke for home. Wilmer Flores made a strong albeit slightly offline throw.  In one motion, d’Arnaud caught the throw and just tagged Myer’s hand before his foot touched the plate. 

The second inning didn’t go as well for Flexen. 

The Padres loaded the bases with no outs, and Margot struck again hitting a double to the wall. Luis Torrens originally stopped at third, but he came home to score as Asdrubal Cabrera forgot how the pick up a baseball. For reasons that cannot be explained, Michael Conforto got charged with the error. 

Flexen was able to navigate out of this inning, and he pitched a good third. With his having thrown 69 pitches, and his turn due up, Terry Collins lifted him. 

Flexen’s final line in the loss was three innings, five hits, four runs, three earned, four walks, and two strikeouts. 

The young pitcher was shaky in the first couple of innings, and by the time he settled in, his manager went elsewhere. Hopefully, he will get one more start to prove himself. 

With Flexen out, Collins went to Tyler Pill despite Pill having thrown two innings yesterday. It came back to burn the Mets as a gassed Pill allowed three runs to give the Padres a 7-1 lead. 

In another bizarre twist, the Mets used both Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz as pinch hitters. This was due to Lucas Duda getting traded and T.J. Rivera

The real shame in all of this is just with one or two different things happening, the Mets might’ve won this game. Case in point was the seventh inning outburst. 

With the Mets down 7-1, Yoenis Cespedes hit an RBI double leading the Padres to pull starter Luis Perdermo and bring in Jose Torres.  Torres immediately balked home a run, and then allowed a home run to Jay Bruce pulling the Mets to within 7-5. They’d get no closer. 

After the homer, it was 7-5 Padres. The Mets would get no closer giving the rookie his first major league lost in his first career start. 

Game Notes: Flexen became the first Mets pitcher to make the jump from Double-A to the majors since Mike Pelfrey in 2006. 

Mets Need(ed) More From Montero

After what has largely been a disappointing career for Rafael Montero, it certainly seems odd to ask him to have a better final pitching line than seven innings, seven hits, three runs, three earned, one walk, and four strikeouts.  Considering where he’s been in his career, this line seems like nothing short of a miracle.  Certainly, you would take that line from Jacob deGrom and be quite happy.

However, it is not the pitching line yesterday that is at issue.  It was the way those three runs scored.

You hate to see the Mets fall down 1-0 early with Montero allowing a solo home run to the second batter of the game, Marcus Semien.  By the way, the sooner that guy gets out of New York, the better.  After entering the series as a .151/.300/.247 hitter with no multi-hit games, he went off on the Mets.  In the series, Semien was 7-13 with a homer, three RBI, and two stolen bases.

Even with the Mets falling behind early, the team would tie it with Michael Conforto hitting his 19th home run of the season off Atheltics starter Daniel Gossett:

Right after that game-tying third inning home run, Montero would allow the Athletics to jump right back ahead in the top of the fourth.  The pitch Khris Davis hit out was middle-middle meaning Montero just failed to execute.

The Mets would rally back in the sixth inning to once again tie the score.  Jay Bruce would hit a lead-off single, move to third on a T.J. Rivera double, and he would scored on a Jose Reyes RBI groundout.  Wilmer Flores walked to continue the rally, but Rene Rivera could not punch home that go-ahead run.  It would cost the Mets as Montero would go right back out there and allow the Athletics to take the lead again.

This time, Montero allowed a solo homer to Matt Chapman.  Again it was a poorly executed pitch over the heart of the plate to a player with plus power.

Overall, Montero allowing just three runs over seven innings is the latest sign of his turnaround from enigma to a major league caliber starting pitcher.  It’s also impressive that even with him allowing these homers he didn’t melt down.  He went right back to working to get the next out.  With him pitching like this, there definitely will be a spot for him on the 2018 Mets roster.

However, while Montero is making these strides, he needs to begin making that next step.  That step is shutting down the opponent when your team either ties the game or take the lead.  Make no mistake, the Mets loss on Sunday was on the Mets offense for not producing against a poor Athletics starter.  However, Montero played a role in allowing those home runs to come at the worst points imaginable.

So yes, Sunday was a step forward for Montero, but it was not as big a step forward as we may want to believe.

Game Notes: This could have been the final home game for Curtis Granderson (0-3, BB), Bruce (1-4, BB, K), and Lucas Duda (0-4, K) as a Met.  Conforto was 2-4 with the homer.

Flores Walks Off An Game That Seemed Off The Wheeler

The problem with Zack Wheeler is we don’t know why he is struggling so mightily.  Is it because he hadn’t pitched in over two years due to his Tommy John surgery?  Is it because there is some injury he and/or the Mets are hiding?  Is this just him being the same pitcher he has always been in his career?

The right-hander has not won a game since May 20th losing his last five decisions.  He has not pitched past the sixth inning since June 7th.  No matter what you want to look at, he just hasn’t been good.

Tonight would be no exception.  On the second pitch of the game, Matthew Joyce would hit a homer to give the Athletics a 1-0 lead.  When Wheeler then walked Marcus Semien, you knew it was going to be a rough night for Wheeler.

In that poor first 36 pitch first inning, Wheeler allowed four runs on three hits and four walks.  He allowed the aforementioned homer and a double to Bruce Maxwell.  He put his team well behind the eight ball, and he put them further behind as he grooved a 92 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate to Matt Chapman, who hit a long home run.

Not to belabor the point, but if Wheeler is throwing 92 MPH fastballs, something is wrong here.  Something’s really wrong when you’re walking an American League pitcher.  With this diminished stuff and his continued control issues, he didn’t give the Mets much of a chance.  His final line was five innings, seven hits, five runs, five earned, four walks, and six strikeouts.  He needed 1oo pitches to just get through the fifth.

The Mets looked dead in the water, but fortunately for once their bullpen kept them in the game.  The Mets would get a scoreless inning from Josh Smoker and two scoreless from Josh Edgin.  It didn’t look like this work would matter much as A’s starter Sean Manaea was straight dealing.

That was until the sixth inning.  After a Wilmer Flores double, Jay Bruce would put the Mets on the board:

Unlike the old adage, the homer did not kill the rally.  Jose Reyes tripled, and Travis d’Arnaud brought him home with an RBI single.  Curtis Granderson then came into the game as a pinch hitter.  Granderson hit a grounder that would normally have been an inning ending double play.  Because the A’s had the shift on, it gave Granderson an opportunity to beat the throw to first.  That would allow d’Arnaud to score the third run of the inning, and it would give Michael Conforto an RBI opportunity.

Since Conforto was called-up to the majors, he was given little chance to prove he could hit left-handed pitching.  For some reason, he was benched against them until it almost became a self fulfilling prophecy.  However, with all the injuries, the Mets have not had the same ability to bench him against lefties. During this season, Conforto has proven those previous decisions to be just plain silly, and he did it again tonight.

On the night, Conforto would go 2-5 with a double and one RBI.  That double and RBI came in this sixth inning at-bat when he hit an opposite field double scoring Granderson from first pulling the Mets to within 5-4.

The Mets would then get a chance in the eighth.  After a T.J. Rivera lead-off single, it looked as if the Mets had things cooking with Reyes at the plate.  Reyes has been hitting well of late, and he was great in tonight’s game.  Overall, he was 2-4 with two triples and a run.  This at-bat was not one of those two triples as he hit into a double play.

d’Arnaud, who was having a great game of his own going 3-3 on the night, got the two out double over the head of A’s center fielder Rajai Davis.  The Mets then announced Lucas Duda as a pinch hitter, and the A’s countered with the left-hander Daniel Coulombe.  Duda stayed in on the pitch, and he hit a single up the middle easily scoring d’Arnaud and tying the game.

After a Hansel Robles scoreless ninth, it set the stage for another Flores tears of joy moment:

The last time Flores hit a walkoff homer, it helped propel the Mets into the National League East title.  This homer the Mets have a four game winning streak, but it may still be too little too late.  Still, that does not mean we should enjoy this 6-5 win any less.

Game Notes: With the trade rumors swirling, Asdrubal Cabrera started the game at third base.  This was Robles’ second win in as many days.