On November 4, 2004, the New York Mets introduced Willie Randolph as the 18th manager in Mets history. In his three plus years on the job, Randolph would have the second best winning percentage in Mets history, and like Davey Johnson, he would be one of only two Mets managers to never have a losing record over a full season.
During Randolph’s tenure, there tends to be a heavy focus on the 2007 collapse and his being fired one game into a trip to the West Coast. Lost in that was Randolph taking the Mets to that level. Sure, adding players like Carlos Delgado were a huge factor. However, Randolph helped develop players like David Wright and Jose Reyes.
People also forget Randolph guided the Mets to a winning record in a season where Doug Mientkiewicz, Miguel Cairo, and Victor Diaz got the most games played at first, second, and right. Randolph did help build a winning culture, and to his credit, he learned to adapt to the team while doing a good job with the bullpen.
No, he was not perfect by any means, but overall, Randolph had done a good job with the Mets. Seeing the jobs Jerry Manuel, Terry Collins, and Mickey Callaway did, you tend to realize Randolph was much better than anyone realized.
Fifteen years later, the Mets are following a pattern a bit in hiring their next manager.
Like Randolph, Carlos Beltran came to the New York Mets directly from the Yankees organization. Like Randolph, Beltran played for both the Mets and the Yankees. Both were multiple time All Stars who won a World Series. Both were looked upon by Mets fans as someone who really wanted to be a Yankee and not a Met.
It was odd for Randolph considering how he grew up a Mets fan. Randolph spoke lovingly about the team even telling everyone his first date with his wife was at Shea Stadium. When Randolph had an opportunity at the end of his career, he came to the Mets.
For Beltran, he actually signed with the Mets. As we know things ended poorly with the Mets, but despite all of that, Beltran came back to the Mets. Like Randolph 15 years ago, Beltran is going to become the Mets manager. He is also going to be entasked with guiding the young careers of players like Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil.
If in the end of his career as the Mets manager, Beltran never has a losing record, helped his young players take the next step forward, and he takes the Mets to the postseason, we would all agree it was a very successful run. However, that is today. As we know, there is a lot which happens in-between now and then.
On February 5, 2012, Eli Manning threw an amazing 38 yard pass to Mario Manningham starting off the Giants game winning drive in Super Bowl XLVI. After Ahmad Bradshaw stumbled into the end zone with the latest rushing TD in Super Bowl history, and a Tom Brady Hail Mary falling harmlessly to the ground, the New York Giants won their fourth Super Bowl in team history.
With the World Series now completed and the 2019 baseball season officially over, that Giants Super Bowl now stands as the only championship won by a New York sports team. That officially makes this the worst ever decade in New York sports history. In fact, prior to this decade, New York had not seen fewer than three championships in any decade:
|1920s||6||New York Giants (1920 – 1921), New York Yankees (1927 – 1928), New York Giants (1927), New York Rangers (1928)|
|1930s||8||New York Yankees (1932, 1936 – 1939), New York Rangers (1933), New York Giants (1934, 1938)|
|1940s||5||New York Rangers (1940), New York Yankees (1941, 1943, 1947, 1949)|
|1950s||9||New York Yankees (1950 – 1953, 1956, 1958), New York Giants (1954), Brooklyn Dodgers (1955), New York Giants (1956)|
|1960s||4||New York Yankees (1961 – 1962), New York Mets (1969), New York Jets (1969)|
|1970s||4||New York Knicks (1970, 1973) New York Yankees (1977 – 1978)|
|1980s||6||New York Islanders (1980 – 1983) New York Mets (1986), New York Giants (1987)|
|1990s||4||New York Giants (1991), New York Yankees (1996, 1998-1999)|
|2000s||3||New York Yankees (2000, 2009), New York Giants (2008)|
|2010s||1||New York Giants (2012)|
Looking at it, this is the first decade since the 1910s where New York did not have at least three championships. In that decade, there were none as the New York Giants lost four World Series and the Brooklyn Robins lost one themselves.
But that was really it. The NHL was established towards the end of the decade in 1917. The NFL wasn’t established until 1920, and the NBA was not founded until 1947.
As has been noted many times over, this was also the first decade since those 1910s where the New York Yankees did not make a World Series. This decade’s team didn’t make it there largely because of Justin Verlander with the Yankees losing in the ALCS to his teams in 2012, 2017, and 2019.
The only teams who would make it to the championship series were the 2014 New York Rangers and the 2015 Mets. The Rangers lost in five to the Los Angels Kings in a very questionably officiated series. As for the Mets, they blew it with Terry Collins mismanaging and crucial errors from Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda leading to two of Jeurys Familia‘s three blown saves.
In the ensuing season, the Mets would lose the Wild Card game as Madison Bumgarner outlasted Noah Syndergaard. The Rangers had a run with three Conference Finals in four years. The New York Jets had their second AFC Championship Game at the beginning of a decade which has largely been associated with the Butt Fumble.
The New York Knicks, New York Islanders, and Brooklyn Nets never got out of the second round. On the topic of the Nets, even if we incorporate the New Jersey teams, the New Jersey Devils lost the 2012 Stanley Cup to the Los Angeles Kings.
Thankfully, this decade of relative New York ineptitude has come to an end, and there is some hope on the horizon. The Mets have an impressive core with Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Edwin Diaz, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, and Syndergaard.
The New York Rangers are properly rebuilding, and they are a year or two away from real contention. The New York Islanders leadership with Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz is as good as there is in all of sports. The New York Giants and New York Jets have potential franchise QBs in Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold.
The Brooklyn Nets have Kyrie Irving, and next year, a healthy Kevin Durant. The New York Knicks are well, they’re the Knicks. Even with them being the Knicks, we see some hope at the end of the tunnel for New York sports in the ensuing decade, and you could actually foresee a chance where they surpass the nine championships of the 1950s.
The 2019 Washington Nationals World Series winning team had many parallels to the 2015 New York Mets pennant winning team. Really, the parallels go further than that. Those parallels bring forth a sense of melancholy when you consider what the Nationals could do that the Mets didn’t.
First and foremost, you think of how David Wright isn’t going to get the ring which Ryan Zimmerman just one. The two of them grew up together, were first round draft picks, and they were both Gold Glove All Star third baseman playing in the same division. They’d both suffer career altering injuries. In Wright’s case, it was career ending, but Zimmerman was able to overcome his injuries. That is part of the reason why Zimmerman has a ring, and Wright doesn’t.
Zimmerman might’ve won in 2012, but the Nationals would lose in the NLDS. One of the reasons for that loss was Stephen Strasburg was shut down.
Unlike Matt Harvey, Strasburg heeded the advice of Scott Boras, and Strasburg put his career above one shot at a World Series. To the Nationals credit, they did the same. Of course, the Mets pressured Harvey to pitch, and in the process, they reneged on their previous agreements. In the end, Harvey would pitch more innings than anyone had previous pitched post Tommy John.
As noted previously, Dave Martinez did what Terry Collins didn’t do. He lifted Strasburg one batter in the ninth. Through and through, the Nationals knew how to treat and handle their franchise starter, and the Mets didn’t.
On the subject of Martinez, it is noteworthy he was a first time manager in 2018 like Mickey Callaway. Like Callaway, both were on the hot seat entering this season. In fact, both of them had seats scolding hot at points during the season. The Nationals stuck by Martinez, and they won a World Series, while the Mets are conducting a search for their next manager with former Mets player and current Nationals first base coach Tim Bogar among the candidates.
In terms of players with ties to both teams, Asdrubal Cabrera would win his first ring with the Nationals. To his credit, Cabrera did all he could do in 2016 to get the Mets into the Wild Card Game, but the Mets would lose that game. Obviously, the Nationals would win that game making a stunning come from behind victory.
Other interesting tidbits was Max Scherzer having a start similar to the one Jacob deGrom had in Game 5 of the 2015 NLDS. Scherzer faced off against Zack Greinke much like deGrom did four years ago. Another interesting tidbit was like with Daniel Murphy in 2015, it took a home run from the second baseman to give their team a 3-2 lead. Well, actually Howie Kendrick was the DH last night, but he has been a second baseman for much of the year.
Finally, when thinking of the Washington Nationals franchise, you come to think of Gary Carter. He was the first ever player from that franchise inducted into the Hall of Fame, and it was the result of the Baseball Hall of Fame not permitting him to wear a Mets cap like he wanted. Part of the reason why was Carter didn’t want to go in the Hall with a team with whom he had no ties.
In the ensuing year, the Nationals unretired his number, and there is little reference or honoring him or the other Montreal Expos greats. Still, while the Nationals fans don’t remember him, we, as Mets fans will, especially because it was Carter who started the greatest rally in World Series history. That rally helped that 1986 team accomplish what the 2019 Nationals did – win a World Series.
With the Washington Nationals facing elimination, Stephen Strasburg was sent to the mound to begin the ninth inning. On the second pitch of the inning, Yuli Gurriel hit a hard liner to left, which was caught by Juan Soto for the first out of the inning.
Even with a five run lead, the Nationals went to their closer, Sean Doolittle, who was already warmed up. Doolittle came in, and he shut down the Astros allowing the Nationals to fight another day.
In a World Series filled with reminders of the 2015 Mets, this served as yet another tragic reminder to Mets fans.
Going back to that fateful Game 5, Matt Harvey was as dominant as any pitcher we had ever seen on that stage. Through the first eight innings, he had not allowed a run. The Royals had no chance against him walking just once and getting just four hits while striking out nine times.
After that eighth inning, Harvey was at 101 pitches. At that time, the heart said to keep Harvey in the game to complete his masterpiece. The head said to go with Jeurys Familia. Terry Collins went with his heart, and then he completely lost his head.
Collins sat idly by when Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain. Harvey was still on that mound when Cain stole second, and he would score on an Eric Hosmer RBI double. This set forth a series of dominoes leading to David Wright playing a ball which should’ve been played by Wilmer Flores. With Wright abandoning third, Hosmer took off from third with reckless abandon, and he scored the tying run as Lucas Duda made what was the worst throw in World Series history.
No, the Mets didn’t lose because Harvey started the ninth. The same can be said about Duda completely botching that throw. However, what is not up for debate is Collins didn’t put his closer in the best possible position to succeed. Looking back at that series, that’s one of the many ways Collins blew that World Series for the Mets.
The Nationals didn’t blow the World Series. Not yet at least. They didn’t partially because they knew when to get Strasburg from the game. This is just yet another dreaded Strasburg/Harvey parallel from this World Series. Based on how this series is going, who knows what insult to injury will be added for the Mets fan in Game 7 of this series.
Even with the Mets missing out on the Wild Card by three games, we will actually see some Mets in the World Series. Technically speaking, there are former Mets players in the World Series. So, in that sense, no matter who wins the World Series, we are going to see a Mets player get a ring.
Joe Smith – The 2006 third round pick was a valuable member of the Mets bullpen for two years before getting traded in the ill fated J.J. Putz trade. As luck would have it, Smith was the best reliever in that deal. In fact, Smith has had a very good career as a reliever with a good stretch in the postseason. In recent years, he’s tried to stay as close to his Ohio home as possible to be near his mother who is suffering from Huntington’s Disease. On that note, he has spent much time promoting awareness of this disorder through HelpCureHD.org.
Collin McHugh – The Mets never quite knew what they had with the 18th round pick of the 2008 draft trading him for Eric Young Jr. The same could go for the Rockies who designated him for assignment. McHugh rose above it all being one of the first pitchers to truly benefit from this Astros front office effect on pitchers. While he’s been a key part of the team’s recent run, he’s been sidelined this postseason with injuries.
Brent Strom – Strom was actually the third overall pick of the 1970 draft, but due to injuries, he would never quite make it either with the Mets, who eventually traded him to the Cleveland Indians, or as a Major Leaguer. After his Major League career, he’s found his footing as a coach, and during his tenure as the Astros pitching coach, he’s become one of the more noteworthy pitching coaches in the game.
Asdrubal Cabrera – The Mets signed Cabrera as a free agent, and his second half of the 2016 propelled them to the Wild Card Game. His play in that second half, along with that iconic bat flip, made him a fan favorite even through the issues regarding his trade demands. As much as fans loved him, Cabrera loved being a Met with his being traded and not re-signed breaking his son’s heart. Cabrera would have his chance to return, but with Brodie Van Wagenen not calling him back after the team signed Jed Lowrie over him, Cabrera opted to go to Washington instead.
Tim Bogar – Bogar spent four years as a Met as a utility player who was best known for his pre-game segments on Diamondvision. After his career was over, he had a decorated career as a minor league manager, and he’s been a respected coach leading to him being the National’s first base coach. With him being on the short list on the Mets managerial search, he may have a return to Queens after this World Series.
Chip Hale – Hale is a respected longtime coach who served as Terry Collins‘ third base coach in 2010 – 2011. In terms of team history, he goes down as one of the best third base coaches they have ever had.
Kevin Long – Long was the Mets hitting coach from 2015 – 2017. During that time, he was credited for players like Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes taking their offense to new heights, which was one of the reasons the Mets won the 2015 pennant. Partially due to his work as a hitting coach, he was a favorite to replace Collins as manager. When the Mets hired Mickey Callaway over him, he would leave for the Nationals organization where he has led young hitters like Juan Soto to the World Series.
Henry Blanco – Blanco had a reputation as a defensive catcher who spent one year with the Mets as a backup to Rod Barajas. After his playing career was over, he has followed a similar career path to Dave Duncan going from defensive catcher to pitching coach with Blanco having been the Nationals bullpen coach for the past two years.
In the end, no matter who wins, there will be a former Mets player who has a ring. As a fan of those players and coaches during their time with the Mets, we can take some sense of satisfaction when they get their ring. Of course, being happy for a particular player and being happy a certain team won are two completely different things.
Even if you don’t subscribe to WAR, it’s hard to argue he’s the best second baseman in team history, and he’s one of the most beloved players to ever don a Mets uniform. That includes both fans and fellow players. We all loved and respected him.
T.J. Quinn of ESPN would note that saying Alfonzo “was practically a coach while he played, he was so respected by other players. ” They all believed he would one day manage, and starting in 2017, he would.
While things did not go well in his first year as a manager, Alfonzo did guide the Cyclones to consecutive seasons with a winning record. That included the Cyclones winning their first ever outright New-York Penn League title this year.
With the Mets having fired Mickey Callaway, you could make the argument Alfonzo should’ve been considered as a replacement. Alfonzo wouldn’t even get an interview. In fact, he’s out of a job all together.
As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, the reason provided was Brodie Van Wagenen wanted to hire his own guy to manage the Cyclones.
Did you ever think you’d see the day where the Mets said Alfonzo wasn’t one of their guys?
It’s embarrassing, and it gets worse when you consider it’s coming from the guy who gutted the farm system and brought in his old clients for a third place finish. Under Van Wagenen, the Mets are saying Robinson Cano and Jed Lowrie are their guys, but Alfonzo isn’t.
Now, the Mets are saying the only manager in their organization who went to the playoffs, let alone won a championship, isn’t one of their guys. The best second baseman in their history isn’t one of their guys. A person who has been a Met since he’s been 17 years old isn’t one of their guys.
Not only is this insulting, but it’s embarrassing for this organization. Alfonzo, the players, and the fans deserved better. That does double when you consider all the times the Wilpons interceded for Terry Collins.
Overall, there’s been nothing from the organization. Not a press release thanking him. As usual, both the Wilpons and Van Wagenen are ducking the media to avoid answering for their decision.
This is not how you treat an all-time great Met. It gets worse when you consider Alfonzo STILL isn’t in the Mets Hall of Fame. Top to bottom, the Mets organization should be ashamed of themselves.
Edgardo Alfonzo deserves much better than this.
Steven Matz was absolutely cruising having thrown fewer than 100 pitches in the game. He had not allowed a hit for over four innings, and Josh Donaldson was due up in the bottom half of the inning. This was going to be the third time Matz was going to face Donaldson in the game. We all know where things went from there.
Mickey Callaway kept Matz in the game. He allowed a single to Freddie Freeman before allowing a go-ahead two run homer to Donaldson putting the Mets behind 4-2. Things quickly unraveled with Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies hitting consecutive doubles to expand the Braves lead to 5-2 before Callaway could get Chris Flexen into the game to get Matz out of the jam.
No, that wasn’t last night’s game. That was the June 19 game against the Braves at SunTrust Park.
This has been Matz throughout his Major League career. He has the tendency to show brilliant flashes only to suddenly lose it. Recalling back to Game 4 of the 2015 World Series, he completely shut down the Royals for four innings before the Royals got to him for a run in the fifth. He began the sixth allowing hard hits to Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain leading to Terry Collins having to go get Jon Niese to bail him out.
These are just two of the countless examples where Matz seemed to be dominating only to unexpectedly lose it. This has left his managers scrambling to get people up in the bullpen to bail him out. On a number of those occasions, it is too late.
When you are sitting in the dugout, this is exactly what needs to go through your mind. You need to remember of all those instances where Matz blew it. You have to remember opposing batters hit .284/.330/.490 when facing him a third time in the game this year.
While you may want to say it’s the bottom of the lineup, but it still was not a good situation for Matz. Adam Duvall is hitting .400/.412/.800 against LHP this year. Johan Camargo is 3-for-7 with a homer against Matz. And of course, there was the Donaldson June 19 homer against the Braves in a similar situation to what we saw last night.
If you are a manager in the dugout, you have seen Matz for almost two full years now. In the bottom of the sixth, Ronald Acuna Jr., Albies, and Freeman each had hard hit balls. Likely, one or two of those balls drop if Juan Lagares wasn’t vintage Lagares last night.
You have seen him have random and sudden implosions. You have the numbers at hand. You saw him run the bases and deal with a delay when Dallas Keuchel was removed from the game. There was another delay when Pete Alonso‘s follow through hit Tyler Flowers in the mask.
Take everything into consideration. Are you still trusting Matz, or are you going to Seth Lugo, a pitcher you honestly believe is the best reliever in all of baseball? Even if you personally disagree with the move, taking everything into account, can you really sit there and say it was a dumb decision.
If you’re being objective, no, you cannot honestly conclude it was dumb to remove Matz for Lugo. It’s fair to disagree or raise reasonable objections. But to suggest this was a stupid decision is to completely ignore everything is just lying and being purely reactionary to one of the rare times Lugo didn’t have it.
Last night, Mickey Callaway trusted Seth Lugo to finish the seventh inning over Noah Syndergaard. Even with Syndergaard cruising, the numbers were the numbers. As a result, Callaway decided to go with his best reliever to get the team a win rather than let Syndergaard get himself into a jam. It didn’t work out.
Sometimes managers make the right move, and it doesn’t work,. Sometimes, you want the managers to have a feel for the game and stick with their starters. After all, that was the justification for Terry Collins sticking with Matt Harvey, and we know how that ended.
But it’s not just Collins/Harvey, it’s also Callaway/Syndergaard.
Take the April 10th game against the Twins as an example. Syndergaard allowed one earned on two hits. He came out to start the eighth, and he allowed three straight hits starting what was a four run inning which chased him from the game.
There have been a number of instances all year where Syndergaard was cruising and just like that he lost it. There was the game against the Tigers where he struggled in the first two, but seemed to settle down only to allow homers in back-to-back innings. There was also his game against the Padres where he allowed homers, and as he got deeper into the game, he began to allow more base hits.
If we’re being honest, while Syndergaard has been much better starting May 1, he still has his issues while he is struggling with this slider. He’s allowed the most hits in the majors. He has a 4.83 ERA, 83 ERA+, and a 3.60 FIP. He’s allowed the most hits in the majors. Most of his numbers, including his strikeout rate, now stand at career worsts.
This isn’t the 2016 Syndergaard who was one of the best pitchers in baseball. This is a very talented pitcher impressively gutting through starts giving his team a chance to win while he’s still trying to rediscover pitches he’s lost due to the new ball.
Point is, we have seen Syndergaard lose it this year at a moment’s notice. It’s one of the reasons why Mets fans and reporters have jumped at the chance to criticize him all year long. But now, all of a sudden, everyone gets amnesia and pretends like they didn’t say the things they said about him about a week ago.
While you can defend keeping Syndergaard in, you can also realize why Callaway would go to Lugo. What you don’t understand is the composition of the roster and why there hasn’t been more attention focused upon it.
Right now, this team has only two reliable bullpen arms – Lugo and Edwin Diaz. That’s it.
In yesterday’s game, the Mets started J.D. Davis in left field and Carlos Gomez in center. They rushed Jeff McNeil off of the IL. Against a Giants bullpen, they mustered just four singles over the final four innings. They played poor defense in the field.
When Lugo blew the lead, eventually Callaway had to go to Robert Gsellman. Now, Callaway does deserve blame for completely overusing Gsellman. It’s led to him being terrible. However, as bad as he is, Callaway’s other options are worse. Honestly, in a pressure spot who do you want him to pick:
Looking at those options and the players who currently comprise the roster, you see that even with Callaway’s faults, this is on Brodie Van Wagenen and the just ridiculously bad offseason he had.
Take into consideration the fact he gave Jed Lowrie a two year $20 million deal. That’s $20 million to a 35 year old with a knee issue. In true J.J. Putz fashion, the Mets didn’t discover anything during the physical before the deal was consummated.
In lieu of that $20 million, the team could have signed Adam Jones ($3 million) and Greg Holland ($3.25 million) and saved some money to add another bench piece or reliever. The point is the Mets needed more depth in the outfield and the bullpen, and Van Wagenen instead opted on another infielder.
Sure, we can criticize Callaway for his faults, but this isn’t on him. This was a poorly constructed roster, and it will remain that way even if he’s fired and the team replaces him with Jim Riggleman, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter, or whoever else you could conjure up.
So go ahead, blow up at Callaway for using a terrific reliever while pulling a starter you have likely been killing all year. Get angry with him for putting in one of his not up to the task relievers in a spot. Get upset when the offense full of bench players and Triple-A starters can’t score runs in a close game.
Certainly, he’s the issue here and not Van Wagenen or the Wilpons who haven’t come up with the money for Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel despite the team desperately needing the. Make Callaway the whipping boy here just like Van Wagenen and the Wilpons want. After all, what good is a human shied if he’s not there to block all the the criticism really due to other people?
It doesn’t get said often enough. Michael Conforto is the Mets best player, and he is one of the best players in all of baseball. That is true this year, and it has been true for quite a while now. We saw evidence of that again last night when he delivered a go-ahead grand slam:
A swing of power. A swing of beauty. 😍 pic.twitter.com/Sn2frLilN7
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 29, 2019
What is all the more interesting about that grand slam, the first of his career, is that it came off a left-handed pitcher. Back in 2015 and 2016, we were told by Terry Collins and the rest of the organization this was something Conforto could not do. First, it was Michael Cuddyer. Then, it was Juan Lagares. It would reach the point of absurdity where we saw Matt Reynolds playing left field just to shield Conforto against left-handed pitching.
That has proven to be a complete farce. Since the 2o17 season, Conforto has a 112 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Sure, that pales in comparison to the 134 wRC+ he has against right-handed pitching, but he is well above league average against left-handed pitching. Really, the sheer notion he couldn’t hit left-handed pitching came from Collins and that one bad game.
The one bad game was an 0-for-5 he took against Madison Bumgarner. His season fell off after that. The narrative was facing a tough left-handed pitcher broke him. The truth was he had a wrist injury. It’s like how he struggled early last year while returning from a devastating shoulder injury. Point is, Conforto’s struggles have been injury related, not talent related.
So far this year, Conforto has a 151 wRC+. That’s 11th best in the NL, and it is the 17th best in all of baseball. This isn’t an outlier or a hot start. Back in 2017, when he was named an All Star, he had a 147 wRC+.
But he’s more than a hitter. He’s a good outfielder as well. Back in 2015, it took us a bit by surprise due to some outdated scouting reports. Due to his talent and athleticism, he proved to be a good left fielder. In fact, he was so good the Mets would try him in center. Now, after realizing all players work better with a set position, he’s a right fielder, a real good one too.
By DRS, he’s the second best defensive right fielder in all of baseball this year. By UZR, he is third best.
In total, Conforto is as complete a baseball player as there is in the game. It’s why he’s a top outfielder, and he’s a top player. Choose your metric – WAR, wRC+, DRS, etc. When you analyze them Conforto’s name is continuously near the top. He’s once again firmly established himself as the best player on the Mets, and he’s arguably the best player in the division, a division which includes Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna, and more.
Last night, we were once again reminded of Conforto’s greatness when he hit that grand slam. It is something Mets fans should continue to acknowledge and appreciate all season long. Make no mistake. This is an All-Star caliber player, and he’s on the precipice of being an MVP level player. If the Mets go anywhere this year, it will be because of him.
It doesn’t matter who is the General Manager or the manager. The Mets always want to tell everyone else they are wrong, and they are smarter than you. There is plenty of history on this front during the Wilpon Era.
Steve Phillips told us Alex Rodriguez was a 24 and 1 player. So, instead of pursuing A-Rod, he signed Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Kevin Appier, and Steve Trachsel to try to improve the team. When that didn’t work, he made a series of questionable moves over the ensuing two years which somehow led to Roger Cedeno being a center fielder. Ultimately, Bobby Valentine was fired, and he was not too far behind.
There were plenty of decisions past that point. The most recent example was Terry Collins‘ insistence that Michael Conforto was a platoon bat because he was a young left-handed hitter the team had no time to develop because they were trying to win. Somehow this led to Matt Reynolds making a start in left field despite never having played the position in his life.
Now, we are in the era of Brodie Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway, and things remain the same way.
With Dominic Smith jumping out of the gate hitting well, Pete Alonso showing no signs of being overwhelmed as a rookie, and the team’s questionable outfield depth, everyone said it was time for Smith to get reps in the outfield again. Everyone included Mets hitting coach Chili Davis. The Mets scoffed at the idea and instead insisted it was better for Smith to be a younger version of Julio Franco or Lenny Harris.
The Mets gave up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in a deal which helped bring them Edwin Diaz. There were big games early in the season where the team needed their closer to go more than four outs. That was all the more the case with Jeurys Familia‘s struggles. But no, we were told Diaz is just a three out pitcher who was to be saved for save chances only.
To begin the season, Jacob deGrom had no consistency with the catchers behind the plate. That became more of an issue with Wilson Ramos not hitting or framing. Given how deGrom has reached Greg Maddux like status with this team, the strong suggestion was to make Tomas Nido his personal catcher as deGrom was the one pitcher who could easily overcome his lack of offense, especially with Nido’s pitch framing. Instead, the Mets said deGrom was not pitching well enough to warrant a personal catcher.
J.D. Davis was atrocious at third base. In fact, by DRS, he was the worst third baseman in the Majors. With him clearly not suited to the position, everyone said to the Mets they should at least try Davis in left field. It wasn’t until the Mets literally had no other choice that it would happen.
And that’s where we are now. The Mets are under .500 and in third place. Callaway’s job has seemingly become tenuous. Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are on the IL while Jeff McNeil is dealing with an abdominal issue. Justin Wilson is on the IL, and Familia just had another poor performance. Suddenly, the Mets, who knew better than everyone, suddenly don’t anymore.
Now, Smith will get reps in left field, and Davis can start playing out there more. Diaz can pitch more than three outs when the situation merits. Nido will now be deGrom’s personal catcher. Of course, the Mets waited a long time to finally admit they actually don’t know better than everyone. The question now is whether they waited too long.
Fortuantely, the Mets finally listened to everyone. Now, the goal is to finally get through to them that everyone else is indeed smarter than they are and that the Yankees financial model is sustainable. In fact, it could be sustainable for the Mets as well if they were willing to try.