The New York Mets have had a number of down seasons with 2018 being one of them. There were some bright spots this past season with Jacob deGrom emerging as the best pitcher in baseball being one of them. This is reminiscent of how many times we have seen different Mets players have great seasons in what has been an otherwise lost season for the franchise.
The last time we saw anything like deGrom’s season happen was R.A. Dickey‘s 2012 season. While the knuckleballer had been better than expected for a few years, no one could see him winning 20 games let alone beating out Clayton Kershaw, who was still in his prime, for the Cy Young Award.
While it was Dickey who won the Cy Young Award, it was Johan Santana who captured the hearts of Mets fans by pitching the first no-hitter in Mets history. Special mention needs to go here for Mike Baxter‘s catch.
In 2004, Mike Piazza passed a significant career milestone by hitting his 352nd career homer as a catcher. With the home run, he passed Carlton Fisk, and he all but cemented his Hall of Fame case by hitting the most home runs as a catcher.
Another Mets catcher who set a home run record was Todd Hundley. In 1996, his 41 homers would not just match a Mets single season record, but it would also pass Roy Campanella‘s single season record for most homers by a catcher. That season saw a number of feats including Bernard Gilkey setting the Mets single-season record for doubles and Lance Johnson setting the record for most triples in a season. Remarkably, all three of these Mets records stand to this day.
On the final game of the 1991 season, which was the Mets first losing season since 1983, David Cone tied the then National League record with 19 strikeouts in a game. It was a feat which had only been previously met by Mets legend Tom Seaver.
Speaking of that 1983 season, Darryl Strawberry would become the first and to this date only Mets position player to ever win the Rookie of the Year Award. The 1983 season was also notable because after the Midnight Massacre, Seaver would finally come home to the Mets.
Really, it was that 1983 season which was the beginning of something special with the Mets. In addition to Strawberry and Seaver, the Mets called-up rookie starter Ron Darling. Much like how he is joined in the SNY booth now by Keith Hernandez, he was teammates with Hernandez that season because the Mets would make a franchise altering trade to acquire the former MVP.
Really, when you look at 1983, you can see how even a bad year is the building block towards a team building a World Series winning club. Hopefully, that is what the 2018 season was for the Mets.
You can argue it was the case with deGrom emerging as the best pitcher in baseball, and Zack Wheeler matching him big start for big start in the second half. Brandon Nimmo had the second highest wRC+ among National League outfielders, and Michael Conforto returned to being Michael Conforto in the second half. More than that, Amed Rosario seemed to turn the corner while his new double play partner, Jeff McNeil, burst onto the scene.
In the end, when you look at losing seasons like 2018, you can see great things. More than that, you can see how great things will soon be in store for the Mets.
In 1997, the team had a surprising 88 win season with young players like Edgardo Alfonzo beginning to make his mark, accomplished players like John Olerud rejuvenating their careers, and players like Rick Reed seemingly coming out of nowhere to be good Major League players. With a brash Bobby Valentine at the helm, many expected the Mets to make the leap in 1998.
As the 1998 season unfolded, it wasn’t to be, and that was mainly because their star catcher Todd Hundley had offseason elbow surgery which was going to keep him out for a while.
The Mets did start well. On May 13th, the Mets were 19-15, albeit seven games back in the division. Then, the following day, shockwaves went through Major League Baseball, and not just because the Mets were swept in a doubleheader by the Padres. No, out of nowhere Mike Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins.
It was an absolute blockbuster with Piazza and Todd Zeile going to the Marlins, who just dismantled the 1997 World Series winning team, for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield.
Everyone in baseball knew the Marlins were looking to flip Piazza for prospects, and a talented Mets farm system seemed to make them one of the favorites if they were interested. Problem was, they weren’t interested.
After this trade happened, the Mets would fall to nine games out in the division. While this was happening, Mike and the Mad Dog would take to the air day-in and day-out clamoring for the Mets to go out and get Piazza. Their assault was relentless.
While a noted blowhard, you can never discount how public pressure forces teams to act. After all if we look back to 2015, with all that happened, we did see the Mets swing a trade to obtain Yoenis Cespedes. The public pressure continued in the ensuring offseason with the team, who had already moved on from Cespedes by signing Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Juan Lagares in center, acquiescing and signing Cespedes to what was essentially a one year deal.
The team didn’t let things play out after the 2016 season. They jumped fairly quickly, and they signed Cespedes to a four year deal even with full knowledge of his heel issues. Certainly, much of this was the result of the public pressure, which was given a voice on New York airwaves by people like Francesca.
Now? Well, Francesca has gone from being an important voice to being a mouthpiece for the Wilpons.
He is now defending the Wilpons saying they are spending money. He notes how the team has the seventh highest payroll in the majors. That is patently false. Cots, Spotrac and Steve the Ump ranks the Mets payroll 12th. Really, everyone ranks the Mets payroll 12th.
The AP ranked the Yankees, not the Mets as having the seventh highest payroll. Maybe, Francesca read New York and was confused.
Putting the ranking aside, lost in that is the Mets recover 75% of David Wright‘s salary, which, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Jeff Wilpon has admitted does not get reinvested into baseball operations. That means the Mets payroll is actually $15 million less than advertised.
Dropping the Mets payroll by $15 million, the Mets payroll drops to 15th in the majors. With the $3 million saved in the Jeurys Familia trade, the payroll drops to 16th. Yes, a New York market team, who is currently refusing to give Jacob deGrom, currently the best starter in baseball, a contract extension, is in the bottom half of the league in spending.
For his part, Francesca defends this. He will say the Mets spend, but they don’t spend well. Nothing backs this up remotely. Nothing.
Instead of pointing the finger where it belongs, the Wilpons, he will continue to bash Mickey Callaway as if he is the scourge of the Mets organization. He will look at all the surrounds the Mets and mock them while failing to even consider pointing the blame at ownership.
And for all that, I’ve stopped listening to him. After over 30 years of listening to him, I’m done. And I suspect I will not be the only Mets fan who feels this way.
Arguably, this was the most entertaining All Star Game in quite a while. It was not only a close game which went into extra innings, but we got to know more about some of the best players in the game. Certainly, miking Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Francisco Lindor made them much more likeable and did a great job of promoting the young superstar talent in the majors.
Still, given how the All Star Game has dropped drastically in terms of importance and how the ratings have been stagnant, there are ways to improve the game. Here are some suggestions from the Mets Bloggers:
Get rid of it 🙂
They should find a way to show Brandon Nimmo on screen for 100 percent of the telecast. Nimmo watching himself watching the game, Nimmo petting a dog, Nimmo studying film. Any of those really, on the lower right hand corner of the screen.
The losers of that year’s All Star Game each pay a portion of the money Bobby Bonilla is owed that year.
Get rid of interleague play.
That’s if you want to save the All Star Game as is. If not, then scrap the whole thing and just have a season break every four years and make it the World Baseball Classic Semifinals and Finals. If you want to do something the other three years, make it a similar international theme. MLB vs. Cuba.
Give each league a 41-man roster. I was gonna say 40, but 41 will be a subliminal advertisement for the greatness of Seaver. All snubs will be solved up to the 42nd-most deserving NL and AL player. What’s a couple of more minutes of introductions? Those are the best parts of the whole affair.
Also, get rid of Joe Buck and don’t let Matt Vasgersian near the All-Star Game. Team a really good National League announcer with a really good American League announcer. I’d even accept a blending of the defending league champion crews, understanding we might get stuck with somebody from YES one future midsummer night.
If we are going to have every team represented in the All Star Game under the pretext that it generates fan enthusiasm for the event, let the fans pick their All Star.
As a Mets fan in 1995, I would have been much more interested in seeing Rico Brogna, Todd Hundley, or John Franco than seeing Bobby Bonilla, which was just further punishment for Mets fans. Seriously, let the fans pick who they want to see – pitchers included.
In addition to wanting to see fans pick their own All Star, I also want everyone visiting the site to read the All Star quality material produced by the people who participate in these roundtables.
The Mets Fan
I’m Phil Kerpen, a DC political/policy guy, and I tweet about that and Mets stuff which is kind of a weird mix but some people seem to like it.
I grew up in Brooklyn, but I’ve been in Washington for almost 20 years now. I’ve got four kids and the oldest is six so our house is a pretty busy, but I still try to watch most of the Mets games MLB TV is so great. I still remember listening to strained WFAN signals but these days being a fan in a different city is pretty easy. The first few years after the Expos moved here were pretty great — I got to see the Mets in person for nine games a year, and Mets fans pretty much dominated the sparse crowds at RFK. It’s different now as the Nationals have developed a fan base, but there’s always still a decent Mets contingent here.
How You Became a Mets Fan
I was born in ’79 and started paying attention to baseball in ’85. My brother is a couple years older, and we started collecting baseball cards, watching games, etc. We got an exemption from bedtime for the ’86 World Series, and I’ve been pretty much hooked ever since — although I’ve tried to quit a few times!\n
Favorite Mets Player
Dwight Gooden was my guy as a kid (my brother was a massive Darryl Strawberry fan), so I guess I’d go with him. For a long time, my automatic answer would have been Todd Hundley, but after the Mitchell Report, he’s disqualified. Yoenis Cespedes is my favorite current Met. Hope he brings back his custom walk-up song “The Power” this year — it’s the best.
Favorite Moment in Mets History
Can’t top “Little roller up along first,” but the other big one for me personally was the Dave Mlicki shutout at Yankee Stadium in 97. It was about a month after my 18th birthday, and I went with my little brother. Nonstop trash talk with the Yankees fans, and Mlicki was in and out of trouble every inning but somehow managed to pull it off.
Message to Mets Fans
This team is hot garbage.
When it was announced the Mets were going to try Wilmer Flores in the outfield, it was met with a collective groan from Mets fans. That shouldn’t be surprising as Wilmer has established himself to be not exactly fleet of foot, nor has he shown himself to be a great defender anywhere the Mets have dared to put him.
As a result, Mets fans were reminded of the horrors of watching Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, and Todd Hundley in the outfield. With injuries to Juan Lagares and Jay Bruce this Spring, we are a step closer to seeing that happen.
Given this being Spring Training, and with the Mets health perpetually being what it is, this is exactly the time of year you are supposed to be experimenting with these types of moves. Maybe, just maybe, Flores could handle the position.
Let’s start with the obvious – Wilmer is slow. That is something not just proved by the eye test but also by Statcast data.
As published on Baseball Savant, Flores had a sprint speed of 25.7 feet per second. To put that in perspective, Flores ranked 398th out of the 451 MLB players ranked. While this isn’t surprising, it is surprising Flores was ranked ahead of two outfielders – Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp.
Now, no one should consider Bautista or Kemp good fielders anymore. Last year, Bautista posted a -8 DRS in 1,242.2 innings in right, and Kemp posted a -17 DRS in 851.2 innings in left. Using Fangraphs parameters, that puts Bautista and Kemp in the poor to awful range.
Judging from Kemp and Bautista, Flores ceiling in the outfield is probably being a poor outfielder. As Mets fans, we already have that expectation no matter where Flores plays. Last season, he had a -14 DRS. Being a versatile and poor fielder is kind of Flores’ thing.
However, unlike Kemp and Bautista, we shouldn’t expect to see Flores spend the majority of his time in the outfield. Basically, what is instructive is Flores is just fast enough to fake it in the outfield. However, the issues is whether he can field enough out there.
When it comes to fly balls and pop ups, Flores has never had a real issue fielding the ball, so long as he doesn’t have to deal with a bat boy (who aren’t in the outfield):
Really, when it comes to Wilmer his defensive issues have typically been range and arm. That’s a big reason why he didn’t work at shortstop and why he has shown himself to be a poor fit at third. Again, as noted throughout his career, he’s not a real fit anywhere.
Really, it could be he’s as poor a fit in the outfield as he is in the infield, so why not? If he’s hitting, they are going to want to find a spot for him in the lineup. If this team repeats their injury issues from last season, and 2018 has not gotten off to a great start, the team may be forced to put him out there. At a minimum, you’d be hard pressed to argue he could be any worse out there.
The Mets Fan
How You Became a Mets Fan
Parents are huge Mets fans, so I was born into it. Don’t remember a specific moment or reason why I stuck with it. They weren’t very good in my formative years but they were always my team!
Favorite Mets Player
Mike Piazza would be the easy choice looking back but I had many “favorite Mets” over the years. David Cone, Howard Johnson, Todd Hundley all held that title at some point. Jason Isringhausen was my guy, though! Looked like a stud at the end of ’95 so I bought all of his rookie cards and spent way too much allowance having his name printed on the back of my Mets jersey. Had to pay by the letter! And they only had yellow letters. UniWatch would not approve.
Favorite Moment in Mets History
Todd Pratt‘s home run in the ’99 NLDS. Was starved for playoff baseball after growing up with the lousy 90’s Mets and you couldn’t have a more climactic end to the series. Still can’t watch a replay without sweating Steve Finley suddenly pulling the ball out of his glove.
Message to Mets Fans
It’s been amazing talking about the Mets every night on the radio over the last four seasons with you. Let’s hope for some more Todd Pratt moments in the near future. LGM!
Recently in the news, it was reported former Mets great Al Leiter will be a part of a 20 person class that will be inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. Of all the people inducted, Leiter will be the only baseball player.
It is interesting Leiter is being inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, but he is not being inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. Last year, I made the case for his induction into the Mets Hall of Fame. Rather than regurgitate the full case here, I’ll quickly note he’s in the Top 10 in wins, strikeouts, and ERA+ in what has been a pitching rich Mets history.
As it stands, from that era of Mets baseball, only Mike Piazza and John Franco have been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. As we know, Piazza is a Hall of Famer who has had his number retired by the team. Franco, the Mets leader in saves, had his best years before Leiter even joined the team.
Behind Piazza and Franco, there are some Mets from those late 90s, early 2000s teams that certainly merit induction.
In three years with the Mets, Robin Ventura won a Gold Glove, hit .260/.360/.468, and he had an all-time great postseason moment with the Grand Slam Single.
You could argue John Olerud had a similar, albeit not as great impact, on the Mets as Keith Hernandez. He came over in what became a ridiculously lopsided trade, and once he become a Met, the team had taken off.
With Olerud in the fold, the Mets went from a 71 to an 88 win team. If not for Mel Rojas, that 1998 team probably makes the postseason. In 1999, Olerud was a key part of a Mets team that won the Wild Card and went to the NLCS.
And speaking of that 1998 team, there is Todd Hundley. Still to this day, Hundley remains the Mets single season home run leader.
Certainly, you can make arguments against some of these players, but ultimately, the fact the great contributions of Mets players who helped bring the team to consecutive postseasons has been far overlooked by this franchise. It needs to be remedied, and it can start with Leiter adding Mets Hall of Famer to his New Jersey Hall of Famer resume.
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.
Look, we can all agree the Dodgers are a much better team than the Mets. There are several reasons why this is the case, and there is another time to re-evaluate how the Mets have gone from beating the Dodgers in the 2015 NLDS to being completely over-matched in a three game series where Clayton Kershaw didn’t even pitch.
Teams have bad series all the time. Even when the Mets are good, we see clunkers like this from time to time. However, this series seemed more than that. This was a team thoroughly out-classed on the field. It makes you shudder when you consider the Mets had Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo going.
At this point, it’s time to press the reset button. We all know the Mets aren’t going to the postseason. With each passing day, even getting to .500 is a pipe dream. For what it’s worth, getting to .500 is detrimental. The Mets need to lose as many games as they can to get the best possible draft pick they can in the 2018 draft. You want the Mets to be able to go and draft the next Michael Conforto.
No matter what happens, we know the Mets are going to continue to lose a number of games to close out the season. That’s fine. We’ve all accepted it. What we cannot accept is turning on the game and watching a team lose without any purpose whatsoever.
What is the team accomplishing by playing Wilmer Flores and Jay Bruce at first base? Neither one of them are going to be the first baseman next year. That job is going to Dominic Smith. With each game Flores and Bruce play first, and Smith remains in the minors, the Mets have accomplished absolutely nothing.
What does playing Curtis Granderson everyday accomplish? He’s been a good Met and an even better man. He’s also accepted a role as the team’s fourth outfielder. It’s likely he will be gone after the 2017 season. With each game he plays, you learn nothing about him. All the while, Brandon Nimmo sits languishing on your bench not even getting at-bats in Triple-A to help him improve as a player.
For that matter, why is Gavin Cecchini in Triple-A? Do we really need to learn more about Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera? Isn’t one or two of them likely gone after the season? If not, aren’t their roles going to be much different in 2018? Reyes should be firmly on the bench in 2018, and Cabrera has shown he should be at third base. If that is the case, why isn’t Cecchini playing second base over these two?
Ultimately, you can justify playing any of the aforementioned veterans you want. Certainly, you want Neil Walker to showcase himself to teams after a lengthy disabled list stint. However, the aforementioned veterans have already been showcased and teams have passed on them for a variety of reasons. Playing them everyday serves this Mets team no purposes. That is unless the Mets are going to have a huge push to celebrate Bruce passing Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley for the Mets single season home run record like they pushed Reyes winning the Mets first ever batting title. Note, Reyes’ batting title didn’t exactly draw fans to the park.
Calling up Amed Rosario was a step in the right direction. Seeing Paul Sewald pitch in some high leverage situations is another step. Taking a chance on Chris Flexen was inspired. However, it’s simply not enough. Sooner or later, Mets fans are going to tune out these games . . . if they haven’t already.
To that end, it’s time to get Smith and Cecchini up here and play them everyday or close to it. Fans would rather see them work through some growing pains at the major league level than watch Bruce, Cabrera, Granderson, Reyes, and Walker lose in lackluster fashion.
It’s time to turn the page if for no other reason than it’s time to give fans a reason to watch what has become a dreadful team.
With the Mets trading Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays, we bring an end to the Mets career of one of the better Mets in their history, and we also see the beginning of the end of an era of Mets baseball.
Duda was a player with a promising bat the Mets that first Omar then Sandy tried to get into the lineup. With players blocking his path to his natural first base position, Duda would be moved to the outfield. Duda would be standing there ins what was then a fairly cavernous right field when Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history. Lost in that game was Duda homering in the sixth to put the game away.
Despite Duda being in the outfield during one of the biggest moments in Mets history, it became increasingly clear he wasn’t an outfielder. He belonged at first base. The fact he even forced a competition for the spot with Ike Davis was impressive. Duda did all he could to wrestle that spot from Davis, and he finally showed the Mets what he could do hitting 30 home runs in 2014. He had more in store in 2015.
When people have typically written about the 2015 season, they usually credit with Yoenis Cespedes for winning the National League East. This overlooks how Duda almost single-handedly pulled the Mets into first place in 2015:
In that pivotal series that saw the Mets go from second to first place, Duda was 8-9 with a double, three homers, and five RBI. With Mets fans debate over whether Duda was clutch or not, this series should answer the question in the affirmative.
As we know that season would eventually end in heartbreak. Duda played his part throwing away the ball in Game 5 allowing Eric Hosmer to score the tying run. It was hard to watch, and unfortunately, it masked all the good he had done that season including his grand slam in the division clincher and his homer effectively sealing the pennant:
These are many of the many great things Duda has done in a Mets uniform. He was the second Mets player in history to hit three home runs in a game at home. Shockingly, he was second to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Speaking of homering at Citi Field, Duda leaves the Mets as the all-time leader in home runs at Citi Field.
Hitting homers was one of the things Duda did well. This year, he passed notable Mets like Edgardo Alfonzo, Kevin McReynolds, and Todd Hundley to finish his Mets career with the seventh most in Mets history. Depending on whether you view Dave Kingman as an outfielder or first baseman, Duda’s 125 Mets homers are either the most or second most for a Mets first baseman.
There were many great moments with Duda, but none of the aforementioned moments were my favorite. My favorite Duda moment was a seemingly meaningless Spring Training Game in 2015.
One night, I was sitting up watching the game with my then one year old half watching a Spring Training game when Duda ripped a double leading to an enthusiastic Gary Cohen call to the effect of “LUCAS DUDA rips an RBI double . . . .” My son immediately latched on and began screaming Duda, and he wanted to see Duda play more and hit more. As that season wore on, he became more and more interested in baseball, and he would learn the Mets players. First one he’d learn:
That was a magical year as both a father and a Mets fan. I’d get to see the Mets go to the World Series for the third time in my life, but it would be the first time I’d get to experience it with my son. I still remember him trying to stay up to watch the games with me. I remember him getting me a Duda jersey for Father’s Day and getting the Duda growth chart at one of the Mets games. Even with Duda gone, we will still use it. I also remember him going crazy during that World Series cheering for the Mets:
Duda leaving does not only mean we are saying good bye to a good player who began his career with the Mets. We are also saying good-bye to a part of a Mets era. It was an era that saw the Mets go from a frustrating team a team that came so close to winning a World Series.
On a personal note, I see Duda leaving as part of the ever changing realization that my son is no longer a baby – he’s now a little boy. He doesn’t just snuggle up with me at bedtime trying to watch Mets games, he now goes outside and plays baseball with me.
Like Granderson, I still want to hold on to not just Duda, but all of these memories. In reality, it’s time to move on to bigger and better things. With that said, I enjoyed each and every minute Duda was a Met (except for that throw), and I appreciate all he has done in a Mets uniform. He was a class act, who was always there to answer questions in even the hardest of times. On a personal note, he helped make another great fan. He deserves another opportunity to win a World Series, and I hope he does get that ring.
Good luck Lucas Duda.