Travis d’Arnaud

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Split Bizarre Shortened Series

Due to the rain-out yesterday, the New York Mets split a series against the Miami Marlins. There was a lot which happened in the span of those three days, which is just an indication of just how bizarre the start to this season has been:

1.  Not calling a game which had zero chance of ever getting played was a very Wilpon like decision. Hopefully, this is something that we will not see happen again.

2.  Whenever there is a threat of rain, teams should just use an opener. It is not worth wasting a pitcher’s turn through the rotation in the hopes of a game being played. Instead of getting someone like Robert Gsellman some work, the Mets are going to have to wait until Friday to see Marcus Stroman again.

3. Aside from David Peterson, the Mets starting pitching has been quite good this season. The best surprise might’ve been Taijuan Walker who looked like the pitcher many thought he would be when he was once a top 10 prospect in the game.

4. Why bother reading the Wilpon owned Mets website, when you can come here and read it done first and better?

5. Jeff McNeil was swinging a good bat and ran into some bad luck before hitting that clutch homer. That bat flip was reminiscent of the Asdrubal Cabrera one.

6. The umpires completely blew it when ruling Michael Conforto was hit by the pitch to force in the game winning run. The fact replay can’t fix that error is a failure of the system.

7. Just when you thought that was bad, on Sunday Night Baseball, Alec Bohm never touched home plate, was ruled safe, and the call was somehow upheld on replay. What is the point of the system when you can’t get obviously blown calls corrected?

8. By the way, Travis d’Arnaud did an amazing job receiving that throw and blocking the plate. There really is no one better in the game than him at doing that, and it is also notable the Mets have spent a ton of money on catchers who are no better than him.

9. These two plays are reminiscent of when Chase Utley went out of the baseline, tackled Ruben Tejada, never touched the bag, and was ruled safe on replay and awarded second base. By the way, the manager who asked for that review and wound up winning partially because of that absurdity was Don Mattingly, so he can save us from listening to his whining.

10. The booing of Conforto was ridiculous. Yes, he had a really bad four game stretch as all players are going to have during the course of the season. You would just think a player of his stature who has been a good Met for this long would have a longer leash than four games.

11. Dropping Conforto in the line-up was a pure panic decision. It’s not like he’s the only Mets player not hitting. For example, there was no booing of Pete Alonso despite his being hitless over his last 11 at-bats, and no one wants him dropped in the order. Remember, Conforto was great last year whereas Alonso comparatively struggled.

12. No, this is not a call to boo Alonso. It is also not a call to boo McNeil who has one hit this year. The same goes for James McCann and Francisco Lindor who have matching .176 batting averages with no extra base hits. It is was too soon to boo any of these players.

13. Conforto is eventually going to break out of his slump due to the ebbs and flows of the baseball season. His being dropped to fifth, sixth, or even seventh in the order will have nothing to do with hit.

14. If this was about rewarding the best hitters, Luis Guillorme would be playing everyday. That goes double when you consider J.D. Davis hit the IL. Guillorme is literally hitting .500 in his limited playing opportunities.

15. Brandon Nimmo has been phenomenal to start the season. He has flat out been the Mets best player with a 223 OPS+ and a 1 OAA in center. He’s been locked in to start the season. Yes, it is too soon to talk All-Star or even MVP consideration, but he looks like he’s poised to have a great year.

16. Of course, no one is better than Jacob deGrom. On the season, he has allowed one run over 14.0 innings while striking out 21. We are running out of words to describe how great he is.

17. We’re also running out of ways to describe just how terrible the lack of run support he receives is. It is beyond a joke deGrom is 0-1 to start the year. It’s really difficult to pinpoint the reason, but there is no rational explanation why this keeps happening.

18. Congrats to Joe Musgrove for throwing the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history. Doing that for the team you grew up rooting for is like Mike Baxter making the no-hitter saving catch for Johan Santana‘s. On that topic, Anthony DiComo certainly showed his true colors.

19. People need to stop this over the top criticism of Luis Rojas. We are five games into a disjointed season with COVID cancellations and front office blown decisions on a rain delay. Like all managers, he is not the one setting the lineup or deciding whether or not to play the games. He is working with the front office on these decisions, including scripting out how long the starters go and which relievers pitch. He’s just the face and fall guy for many of these decisions.

20. The Mets already have four games to make up this season. The bright side will be those games will come when Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco have returned.

Good Day For Former Mets Pitchers

Thanks to the Washington Nationals, we can’t watch New York Mets baseball just yet. What we could do was see former Mets pitchers in action.

Matt Harvey took the ball for the Baltimore Orioles, and he looked good. His slider was moving, and he touched 95 MPH. Unfortunately, he fell one-third of an inning short of the win.

Zack Wheeler took the ball for the Philadelphia Phillies, and he’d have more hits himself than he allowed. He was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.

On the mound, he struck out 10 over 7.0 innings with the only hit against him coming from Travis d’Arnaud.

We also saw the former bullpen arms do well. Darren O’Day pitched 0.2 scoreless and picked up a hold. Michael Fulmer picked up a hold for pitching a scoreless inning while hitting 95 MPH.

All-in-all, it was a pretty good day for former Mets pitchers. Hopefully, that momentum for Mets pitchers will confine when the Mets are finally able to start their season on Monday.

Mets-Nationals Opening Day Game Should’ve Been Played

Back on August 16, 2017, the New York Mets faced a rash of injuries. Instead of postponing the game, Travis d’Arnaud, a catcher, rotated with Asdrubal Cabrera between second and third all game long. The reason that happened is Major League Baseball does not cancel games when teams face injuries.

At times, this leads to tough and frankly bad decisions. A classic example was when the New York Mets took a risk by designating Darren O’Day so Nelson Figueroa could make a start. That led to O’Day getting claimed by the Texas Rangers. O’Day is still pitching now whereas Figueroa last pitched in the majors two years after this decision, and he had a full career arc as the Mets postgame analyst.

Point is, teams are forced to play through injuries. Baseball is unforgiving that way. However, when it comes to COVID teams are not forced to play. Sure, the Miami Marlins played with COVID last year, and Don Mattingly was rewarded for putting the entire season in jeopardy by naming him the National League Manager of the Year, but that is another story for another day.

On the eve of Opening Day, there was a Washington Nationals player who tested positive for COVID, and through contact tracing, an additional four Nationals players were put into quarantine. Since that first test, four other Nationals players have tested positive, and the Opening Day game between the Mets and and the Nationals has been postponed indefinitely.

Again, if there were five Mets players injured and unavailable on Opening Day, the Mets would have been forced to play the game. They would have been put in the position over whether they call up players or roll with the players they had available. Understandably, COVID is different than a torn hamstring, but not really in terms of player availability.

Because of COVID concerns, Major League Baseball has allowed teams to carry a taxi squad of five players with them on road trips. When not on road trips, those players are at the team’s alternate site. Put another way, Major League teams are supposed to have five players ready to be called up to play at a moment’s notice if there is a COVID issue. Coincidentally, that number coincides with the amount of players the Nationals had out.

Now, there are reports Max Scherzer, the Opening Day starter, was away from the team. So, we know he was available. Past him, we really don’t have any idea who could or could not play. On a related note, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said their entire team is in quarantine. Again, while there are reports both teams could play on Saturday, in reality, if the entire Nationals team is in quarantine, there is really no knowing when they will be able to play.

That puts the Mets at a significant disadvantage to start their season. The Mets were setting their rotation where they did not have to use a fifth starter early on in the season. That helped alleviate the loss of Carlos Carrasco, and it did give them a preview of Joey Lucchesi, who may be destined for the bullpen once Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard are ready to return. Again, this was the Mets plan, but now, they can’t execute their plan because the Nationals players got infected with COVID at a time when none of the other 29 teams had any issues.

The answer can’t be for the Mets and Nationals to cancel an entire series. This would have the Mets dormant for half a week before they have to travel to play a Phillies team who has already been playing. This is how you create injuries and problems. Again, if the Mets suffer injuries as a result of this, no one is postponing their games until that players is healthy.

Really, Major League Baseball has to have a better answer than to shut down a healthy team abiding by COVID protocols. The Nationals should be forced to call up their Triple-A team to play if that what is necessary. On that note, there is no Triple-A baseball until May. These are games on the schedule, and the weather is permitting them to play.

Instead, the Mets are going to have to scrap their plans for the rotation, be forced to play cold against teams already warmed up, and they are going to have to force games in later in the season when we are already concerned about pitchers being able to sustain the 2021 season after the 2020 shortened season.

This is ridiculous, and Major League Baseball has to have a better response than postponing games and kicking the rock down the road. Of course, they don’t, so they are going to put the Mets in a precarious position now and in the future. And we know if anyone gets injured as a result of this recklessness, the Mets will play that game even if it means someone playing out of position the way d’Arnaud once did.

Explaining Just How Terrible J.D. Davis Is At Third Base

MLB reporter Anthony DiComo and SNY reporter Steve Gelbs voiced at how perplexed they were about the push to have anyone but J.D. Davis at third base. Because of that, we need to illustrate exactly why Davis “must be replaced immediately at any cost.”

Wilmer Flores while a Mets folk hero was a terrible defensive player with the Mets, and he was grossly miscast as a shortstop. In 1313.2 career innings at short, he has a -10 DRS. Flores was also terrible at third with a -16 DRS in 1116.2 career innings at the position.

There has been a debate amongst Mets fans about just how good or bad of a player Lucas Duda was. However, Mets fans were unanimous Duda was a terrible outfielder. In 893.2 innings in left, Duda had a -15 DRS.

Mike Piazza was one of the greatest players to ever don a Mets uniform. In fact, he was only the second player to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. As great as he was with the Mets, he was that horrible at first with a -10 DRS in 517.2 innings there.

Travis d’Arnaud, the catcher Mets fans seemed to be all over in terms of his defense due to his inability to throw out base runners, had a -13 DRS in 3162.9 innings behind the plate for the Mets.

This is a sampling of some of the worst and most criticized defensive players in Mets history. This is also a sampling of Mets players who were well out of position, and they struggled as a result. All of them were better than Davis is at third.

In 770.0 innings at third, Davis is a -19 DRS.

Keep in mind, that’s purportedly his natural position. Despite it being his natural position, he is worse at third than Flores was at third or short. Davis is worse at third than Piazza was at first or d’Arnaud was behind the plate. He is worse at third than Duda was in left field. That is exactly why there is this sudden push to say the Mets cannot enter the 2021 season with Davis at third.

The Mets have done a lot of good this offseason, but their job is not done. You can’t make all of these moves and knowingly put a player at third who makes Flores look like a good defender out there. It just can’t happen.

 

Phillies Not Attempting To Re-Sign J.T. Realmuto Is Ludicrous

There are several reasons you could justify not pursuing J.T. Realmuto. Those reasons are Yasmani Grandal, Christian Vazquez, Mitch Garver, Travis d’Arnaud, Roberto Perez, etc.

Put another way, if you’re not at least pursuing Realmuto, you better have a bona fide starting catcher behind the plate. Short of that, the discussion why you’re not pursuing Realmuto faces scrutiny.

Yes, you can reasonably prefer James McCann. That goes double if you’re understandably leery of giving a soon to be 30 year old catcher a big contract. A team could determine they have more pressing holes, and/or they need to allocate their money differently to build a more complete roster.

Still, you have to at least inquire on Realmuto. He’s the best catcher available, and he’s arguably the best player available on the free agent market.

If you don’t have a set starting catcher, you need to talk to Realmuto. That includes the Phillies who gave up an impressive Sixto Sanchez to obtain him.

But no, the Phillies aren’t pursuing him. Instead, they’re going to claim they’re too broke to try to sign him. Other teams are claiming the same. They’ll claim broke and no revenues despite MLB signing a billion dollar TV contract.

That’s in addition to local broadcasting and advertising revenues.

But for some reason, teams want us to believe there’s no money to spend. As a result, they won’t pursue players who can improve their team, and in turn, increase interest and revenues for their team.

That’s fine. Teams like the Phillies who once claimed they’d stupid money to win can cry poor while Steve Cohen judiciously spends to get the players the Mets need to win. Thanks to the Phillies, there’s once less suitor to drive up Realmuto’s price tag.

Because People Forgot: Travis d’Arnaud Was A Good Mets Catcher

Seeing Travis d’Arnaud play great since leaving the Mets has generally seen Mets fans have one of two reactions:

  1. Typical Mets
  2. Can’t criticize the Mets for this one

The second reaction is driven by the premise d’Arnaud wasn’t good with the Mets. Essentially, the Mets gave him every possible chance, and he still didn’t succeed. Ipso facto, he was never going to be good with the Mets.

This is the standard defense when a player the Mets gave up on too soon thrived elsewhere. The most famous recent example was Justin Turner. Of course, that was predicated on a false premise.

Turner worked on his launch angle with Marlon Byrd, and he was getting results late in the season. Rather than pay Turner an absurdly low arbitration salary to permit him to be a useful utility player who could grow to be more, the Mets instead chose to non-tender and slander him.

Mets fans having amnesia from all the other times the Wilpon led Mets front office do this only for the decision to blow up in their face, somehow take the organization’s side. It happens time and time again, and we’re seeing it with d’Arnaud.

The biggest fallacy with d’Arnaud was he wasn’t good with the Mets. Sadly, this emanates from a poor understanding of the catching position wherein people equate the ability to catch with the ability to throw.

Now, there are some truths with d’Arnaud. First and foremost, he was injury prone. Second, his throwing arm wasn’t great. Third, his bat wasn’t as advertised when he was obtained as a prospect.

Still, that should not be conflated to mean he wasn’t good with the Mets. In fact, d’Arnaud was a good Met.

From 2014 (his first full season) until 2017 (his last full season), d’Arnaud amassed an 8.5 fWAR*. Over that stretch, d’Arnaud was the 11th best catcher in the game. His 99 wRC+ made him the 14th best catcher in the game.

Certainly, his bat wasn’t as good as hoped, but it was league average. It was also above average for his position. We also knew there was a chance for more.

In 2015, we got a glimpse of what d’Arnaud would be in his post Mets career. In that season, he hit .268/.340/.485 with 12 homers and 41 RBI. That was good for a 130 wRC+. That made him one of the best catchers in the game, and with his hitting three homers that postseason, he seemed poised for stardom.

Really, d’Arnaud looked like the complete catcher. He could hit. He blocked balls and framed at an elite level. There was no one in baseball better at fielding throws and getting down tags. He just led a young pitching staff to the World Series.

Admittedly, it didn’t happen. Injuries were a big reason why.

In 2016, he dealt with a rotator cuff strain. In 2017, he dealt with wrist injuries. Finally, in 2018, it was discovered he had a torn UCL costing him that season.

These are all injuries which impact your hitting, and they’re reasons why d’Arnaud wasn’t able to build off of his 2015 campaign. Still, he remained a strong defensive catcher and pitch framer.

Put another way, d’Arnaud was actually a good catcher who helped his team win. As noted, he was the 11th best in the game.

After his UCL injury, there was legitimate hole he’d return to his 2015 form. Instead, the Mets under Jeff Wilpon’s direction did what they always do. They unnecessarily rushed a player back from injury.

At a time when d’Arnaud should’ve been on a rehab assignment, or even rehabbing to get ready to play in rehab games, d’Arnaud was catching a Major League game, and he had just about the worst game a catcher has ever had. Instead of realizing it was the Mets who screwed up by forcing a player to return before he was ready, they got rid of him.

This led to d’Arnaud getting the time he needed to get back into playing shape. Now, away from the arm and elbow injuries and away from the Mets medical decision makers, we see d’Arnaud return to his 2015 form.

Again, what d’Arnaud is doing now is something we’ve seen him do in a Mets uniform.

Just because you were frustrated with his inability to throw out base stealers should dealing with a starting staff incapable of holding on runners doesn’t change that. Just because we saw the Mets use SNY and their influence with some media personalities or the fact there are just plain ignorant fans doesn’t change that.

So yes, there’s every reason to believe Travis d’Arnaud would have been this good if he stayed with the Mets. First and foremost, he was healthy. Second and just as important, he had already been this good in a Mets uniform.

And regardless of what he would or would not have done if he stayed with the Mets, d’Arnaud was good with the Mets. Being 11th best at his his position proves that.

Editor’s Note: Typically, this site uses bWAR. Catchers are the one exception as fWAR incorporates framing.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Season All But Over

Lloyd Christmas may want to say there’s still a chance here, but there isn’t. Any realistic shot the Mets had faded when they lost this series to the Atlanta Braves:

1. Like Daniel Murphy before him, the Mets absolutely deserve Travis d’Arnaud become the next Mets killer.

2. People rightfully focus on the starting pitching and pitching staff as a whole when examining what a terrible job Brodie Van Wagenen has done. Looking at it Wilson Ramos‘ production against d’Arnaud, and his other moves, he might’ve bungled the catching position even worse.

3. Yes, we saw d’Arnaud be this player in a Mets uniform previously. Yes, it was fair to believe he’d return to his 2015 form post Tommy John. Yes, he has always been a very good catcher. Anyone saying otherwise is lying to you, pushing an agenda, or just doesn’t know that much about catching.

4. You’ll notice with the Wilpons selling Gary Cohen and Brandon Nimmo were quite vocal in their support for d’Arnaud and wishing he didn’t leave the Mets.

5. Nimmo has every right to talk as he’s come back from injury and proven himself to be a terrific ballplayer. He’s just not a center fielder.

6. On the note of people who have performed well, Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, Andres Gimenez, and Jeff McNeil are part of the still young core who have had good seasons and are very much a part of the Mets future.

7. Seeing that young core, we should all celebrate Steve Cohen bringing back Sandy Alderson to the Mets organization. Hopefully, Cohen will right some other wrongs in due time.

8. David Peterson stepped up big time in what was the biggest start of his career. Hopefully, that’s a sign of his figuring things out and raising his ceiling.

9. Rick Porcello stepped up and was phenomenal yesterday. If the Mets truly invest in infield defense this offseason, he can be a part of the 2021 equation.

10. It’s beyond impossible to judge the jobs Luis Rojas and Jeremy Hefner did this year. They deserve another shot, and it looks like the Mets are building a front office who might do exactly that.

11. Sending down Luis Guillorme was stupidity. He did everything to earn not just the role he had but a much bigger one at that.

12. Amed Rosario lost his starting job, and he needed a recent hot streak to improve to a .266./283/.379 hitter. He should’ve been sent down.

13. J.D. Davis is hitting .248/.376/.383 since August 1, and he’s incapable of playing a defensive position. He should’ve been sent down.

14. Instead, it was Guillorme so Franklyn Kilome could allow six earned over 1.1 innings giving the Mets zero chance to win a game at a time when they can ill afford to punt games. Another great decision by Brodie Van Wagenen.

15. Speaking of brilliant Van Wagenen decisions trading Steve Villines, a promising reliever, for Ariel Jurado, a bad pitcher who gave up five runs over four.

16. The Mets are in a precarious spot with Steven Matz. After last year and in Spring Training, he appeared poised for a breakout. Since the return, he looks like a non-tender candidate. These are critical franchise and season altering decisions.

17. Alex Rodriguez confirming he’d have Jeff Wilpon in the front office in a prominent role shows just how much the Mets dodged a bullet when A-Rod failed to beat out Cohen in the bidding.

18. Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon thinking they’re smarter than everyone and watching their team failing to make an expanded postseason is the perfect way for them to leave this organization.

19. Normally, we’d be saying it was time to tear it down and rebuild. Thanks to Cohen and competent baseball people in charge, we know the Mets can build off this strong core.

20. This season has been a massive disappointment, but on the bright side, we got 60 games of Mets baseball. That’s a real positive.

David Peterson Comes Up Huge In First Big Start

If the Mets want a chance at the postseason, they may not be able to lose even one game. For that to happen, they’re going to need some unexpected great pitching performances.

They got that last night out of the rookie David Peterson.

Peterson would join Jerry Koosman, Pete Schourek, and Hisanori Takahashi as the only left-handed Mets rookies to strike out 10 in a game. Overall, he allowed just one run over six on three hits and four walks.

To put into perspective how well he pitched, Freddie Freeman was 0-for-5 with the golden sombrero and a GIDP. This is the same Freeman who routinely kills the Mets and is a front runner for the NL MVP.

He’d pick up the win because the Mets offense scored just enough early and blew it out late.

Offensively speaking, Robinson Cano drove the Mets to victory.

In the first, Braves starter Ian Anderson was wild walking the bases loaded. Cano delivered the rare Mets big hit with RISP with a two RBI single.

It was 3-2 entering the bottom of the eighth after a Travis d’Arnaud homer in the top of the inning. Any flashbacks to the 1998 and 1999 Mets subsided when Dominic Smith and Cano went back-to-back to expand the Mets lead to 5-2.

That rally would continue with Brandon Nimmo, who is getting insanely hot of late, hitting a two RBI single. That pushed the score to 7-2.

In the end, the Mets chances of pulling this off aren’t very good. Not in the least. However, the bright side is on a night like this, we might’ve found out something about Peterson. There’s a lot more to his career, but this big start in a huge spot is the type of game which can springboard a career.

Game Notes: Robinson Chirinos hit an RBI double in the fourth

Mets Don’t Put Best Team On Field In Braves Embarrassing Route

Before the game, the New York Mets optioned Luis Guillorme to the alternate site to make room for Franklyn Kilome on the roster.

The Mets made that option despite Guillorme having a 0.7 WAR, 143 wRC+, and having a 2 OAA. He’s been a good hitter and an even better fielder. He’s also been a good pinch hitter on his career with a .364 OBP.

It should be noted J.D. Davis continues to be the worst fielder in baseball. Since August 1, he’s hitting .262/.374/.404. Overall, he’s at a 0.0 WAR.

As bad as Davis has been, Amed Rosario has been worse. He’s lost his starting job to Andres Gimenez, and he’s hitting just .250/.268/.367. Arguably, he’s been the worst player on the Mets this year.

Put another way, Guillorme was optioned despite there being worse players with options remaining staying on the roster. That means the Mets didn’t put their best roster out there at a time when they’re supposedly trying to make the postseason.

With a rusty and possibly not quite fully healthy yet Steven Matz starting and imploding, the Mets were in a 6-0 hole through three. Seeing the Mets overcame bug deficits against the Phillies, there was some hope the Mets could come back.

Kilome took care of that hope allowing six runs over 1.1 innings putting the Mets in a 12-0 hole. Seeing Kilome pitch, you need to remember the Mets optioned their best bench player quite possibly losing him for the rest of the season for this performance.

Adding insult to injury, Travis d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with a run, homer, two RBI, and two walks. The player Van Wagenen didn’t think was good enough for his team is batting cleanup for one of the best teams in baseball, and he’s killing the Mets.

All told, this was an embarrassing and demoralizing 15-2 loss. Make no mistake, this was a direct reflection of just how inept Van Wagenen has been as the Mets GM.

Game Notes: Todd Frazier pitched a scoreless inning.

Bye Jeff Wilpon

Back when Nelson Doubleday was on his way out, he had said of Jeff Wilpon, “Jeff Wilpon said he’s going to learn how to run a baseball team and take over at the end of the year. Run for the hills, boys. I think probably all those baseball people will bail.” (Bergen Record).

It’s impossible to detail just how awful Jeff has been. It’s like a PhD level course in complete incompetence.

He was behind forcing injured players to play including Pedro Martinez leading to the effective end of Pedro’s career.

He thought he was smarter than people who actually knew what they were doing. That led to decisions like the shameful Willie Randolph and Sandy Alderson firings (yes, Sandy was effectively fired).

There were the rage cuts like Travis d’Arnaud and the inexplicable gross overpayment of prospects (Scott Kazmir, Jarred Kelenic) for bad returns in the sake of winning now only for the Mets not to win.

Women knew what the organization thought of them when Jeff fired an unwed pregnant woman and not only brought back Jose Reyes, but also held him out as a role model.

Through all of this and more, everyone had enough, especially his family.

Bruce Wilpon disassociated himself from the Mets after seeing how Jeff and the Mets treated Kazuo Matsui. Saul Katz forced the sale of the team rather than see Jeff mismanage the team to his dying days.

Ironically, Jeff would interfere with the first sale. Steve Cohen walked away. Despite years of mismanagement, the team had some value. However, that value went down when Steve Cohen bought it a second time for hundreds of million less.

There was no end to Jeff Wilpon’s incompetence, and now, his family has taken away his toy so he can’t play GM anymore. We’re all better for it.

Jeff Wilpon will soon be gone. Good riddance to him.