Travis d’Arnaud

Mets Pay Price For Getting deGrom Run Support

In case you thought things were really bizarre with the Mets in 2020, we just saw something truly bizarre. The Mets gave Jacob deGrom run support.

The big outburst came in a four run third.

With runners at first and second, Michael Conforto delivered the hit the Mets desperately needed with an RBI single off Mike Soroka. After Pete Alonso walked, Robinson Cano delivered an RBI single scoring Conforto.

Disaster would strike that inning. When it seemed Soroka couldn’t get anyone out, J.D. Davis hit a fielder’s choice to Freddie Freeman. When Soroka went to go to first he pulled up lame, and he had to be helped off the field.

Soroka was not the only injury on the day.

Davis was plugged into the starting lineup because Jeff McNeil experienced lower back tightness. After hitting a single in the third, reaching third on a Marcell Ozuna error, Amed Rosario was pulled from the game with left quad tightness. Robinson Cano, who has been insanely hot of late, left the same with left groin tightness.

Aside from the injuries, the Mets offense was clicking. Cano would have another RBI single before departing the game. Wilson Ramos had an RBI single and a two run homer.

Those seven runs were more than enough for deGrom. He’d allow just two runs over six with one of them being a Travis d’Arnaud fifth inning solo homer. His final line was

It wasn’t complete smooth sailing for the Mets. Jeurys Familia loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. He’d strike out Ozzie Albies, and Justin Wilson would relieve him to get Freeman to ground out to end the jam.

Jared Hughes made his Mets debut pitching two scoreless innings to secure the 7-2 win. Even with all the injuries, it seemed like this was a game where the Mets got healthy.

Game Notes: Before the game, Brandon Nimmo cast doubt on the Mets account they were not informed of Yoenis Cespedes‘ opt out.

Brodie Van Wagenen Is Comically Bad

Last night, Travis d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with five RBI. Three of those five RBI came on an eighth inning double which put the Braves ahead 11-10. This was the same d’Arnaud he rage released last year.

Since d’Arnaud was released he outplayed Wilson Ramos. That was readily apparent when Ramos’ framing, if you can call it that, cost Seth Lugo a strike in that fateful d’Arnaud at-bat.

You couldn’t help but notice the same game d’Arnaud won, the .208/.269/.250 hitting Ramos flew out with the tying run on second to end the game.

Ramos’ failures go beyond his offense. He can’t frame and his game calling has been poor. It’s one of the reasons Edwin Diaz has struggled in a Mets uniform.

Case-in-point, Ramos called six outside pitches when Marcell Ozuna was up last week, and on a 3-2 pitch, he called the same pitch Ozuna struck out on the previous day. Short of using a megaphone, Ramos couldn’t have made the pitch type and location any more obvious.

This is normally where we go to Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. On that note, the Mets called up Brian Dozier despite his bit really fully preparing for the season and his not taking part in summer camp.

By hastily starting an ill-prepared Dozier, the Mets have admitted Cano is no more than a platoon player making that trade somehow worse.

On the topic of the platoon, you know who was a really good right-handed platoon option? Wilmer Flores.

However, the Mets non-tendered Flores partially because of a knee condition he never actually had. Instead, they replaced him with Jed Lowrie, a player who actually had a knee injury.

That knee injury is the invented condition of PCL laxity. Even better than the conjured up diagnosis was it taking nearly a year-and-a-half to get a second opinion.

On the topic of the IL, Jake Marisnick landed on it. The Mets could’ve just signed a player like Juan Lagares for cheaper, but instead, they chose to trade Marisnick.

While the Mets are getting nothing from the impending free agent Marisnick, and their bullpen has been struggling Blake Taylor has been terrific out of the Houston Astros bullpen.

The list with Van Wagenen goes on and on. He told us he was replacing Zack Wheeler with Marcus Stroman, who was in the same rotation. He then let Wheeler walk and actually replaced him with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha while trying to tell us the pitching improved.

Don’t forget his continuously telling us he wasn’t going to fire Carlos Beltran only to fire Beltran before he managed a game.

It’s like Van Wagenen is George Costanza. Every instinct is wrought with failure. The key difference is Costanza was the assistant to the traveling secretary, and Van Wagenen is the GM.

The other difference is Van Wagenen is real. He’s all too real.

d’Arnaud, Bullpen, And Defense Deliver Dreadful Mets Loss

Well, after losing two in a row, Rick Porcello got to play the role of stopper for his hometown team. Initially, it didn’t look good.

After two quick outs, notorious Mets killer Freddie Freeman got the rally started with a single. That started a string of four starting singles. The last two came for Matt Adams and former Met Travis d’Arnaud. That gave the Braves a 2-0 lead when if they lowered Porcello’s ERA.

Porcello would actually settle in, and he’d put up some zeros. Thanks to a six run fifth, he’d be in position to pick up the win.

Robinson Cano, who easily had his best game of the season, led off the inning with a solo homer off Sean Newcomb to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. The Mets were far from done.

After Wilson Ramos singled, Andres Gimenez dropped down a perfect drag bunt. Brandon Nimmo would hit a single to load the bases for Pete Alonso.

Alonso walked to force in a run, and then Michael Conforto showed incredible wrist strength on a 3-2 check swing and also walked to force in a run. Yoenis Cespedes hit a two run double. The Mets then batted around with Cano hitting an RBI single increasing the Mets lead to 8-2.

You’d think the Mets should cruise, but then again, this is the Mets.

After Porcello issued a lead-off walk to Dansby Swanson, J.D. Davis just flat out dropped a fly ball. His error was dubbed the Mets worst error of the year by Gary Cohen. Instead of one on, one out, it was two on, no outs. That led to Paul Sewald replacing Porcello thereby cheating Porcello of the chance of getting the win.

Again, it was Adams and d’Arnaud hurting the Mets. Adams hit an RBI double, and d’Arnaud singles to pull the Braves within 8-4. An Austin Riley RBI groundout made it 8-5.

An Amed Rosario homer to lead off the sixth began a two run inning giving the Mets a 10-5 lead. It still wasn’t enough.

Chasen Shreve, easily the Mets best pitcher of the night still allowed a run in his two innings. On the bright side, five of his six outs recorded were strikeouts. His one non-strikeout was a great play by Gimenez

The Mets brought on Dellin Betances to start the eighth, and that’s when the wheels fell off.

Betances didn’t have it both in terms of control and stuff as he was only hitting 94 MPH on the gun. The bad inning started with a leadoff single by Adeiny Hechavarria. Then, Betances walked Ender Inciarte.

Swanson singled to pull the Braves within 10-7. Then, Betances nearly hit Freeman on a 3-0 pitch. That pitch got past Ramos. Betances was late to the plate, and he still almost got the tag down on Inciarte. In fact, it appeared he did, but replay confirmed the run.

Now, it should be noted Seth Lugo was ready, and yet Luis Rojas initially stuck with Betances. It wasn’t until the wild pitch and walk to Freeman that Lugo entered the game.

Lugo wasn’t sharp. He walked Marcell Ozuna. That was the seventh walk Mets pitchers issued and the fifth by the Mets bullpen. After Lugo got Johan Camargo to hit a shallow fly ball, d’Arnaud came up to the plate.

d’Arnaud would hit an RBI double to right center. Notably, on that play career right fielder Ryan Cordell, put in center for defense, couldn’t cut it off in time. As a result, it was a bases clearing double giving the Braves an 11-10 lead.

Of note, the Mets called up Cordell over Juan Lagares when Jake Marisnick hit the IL. Lagares cuts that ball off earlier and keeps the score tied.

Instead, the Mets fell behind. The decisive blow was delivered by their former catcher, a guy Brodie Van Wagenen cut. Last year, d’Arnaud was more productive than Ramos, and tonight, d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with a double, walk, and five RBI.

In a nice juxtaposition, it was Ramos, who is hitting .208 this year, who flew out to end the game with the tying run at second. That saddled Lugo with the loss and the entire Mets team with an uglier loss.

This was an ugly loss which exposed the Mets bullpen and only further highlighted the team’s bad defense. When you have that, you’re going to have more than your fair share of these losses.

Game Notes: Gimenez started at third over Jeff McNeil. Mets scored 10 runs tonight. They’ve scored 12 runs in five home games.

Marlins COVID19 Outbreak Means MLB Needs To Shut Down Right Now

Less than a week ago, the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves played two exhibition games. After those games, while they have not tested positive, Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers were shut down with COVID19 symptoms. As a result, they missed the first series of the season.

The healthy Braves travelled to New York, and they played a series against the Mets. As far as we know, the test results for players and personnel on both teams have not been released.

The Marlins went to Philadelphia to play a three game series. Unlike the Braves, the Marlins have seen a rash of positive tests. So far, we know Jorge Alfaro, Jose Urena, Garrett Cooper, and Harold Ramirez have tested positive. While the other names of players and Marlins personnel have not been released, we know there are more . . . a significant number more.

We know the other Marlins players and Phillies players are awaiting test results. They’re not expected for 24-48 hours. There’s somewhat of a problem here.

Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio had epidemiologist Dr. Zach Binney on this morning. Dr. Binney explained although there could be additional Marlins and new Phillies infected this first round of tests may come back negative. That’s a problem which could only be solved with quarantine or self isolation for five days.

At the moment, the Marlins have been kept in Philadelphia and did not travel to Baltimore to play the Orioles. Tonight’s game has been postponed.

The Yankees, who have traveled to Philadelphia to play the Phillies, are stuck in their hotel as tonight’s game has been postponed. That seems like a fair course of action considering the Yankees will be using the same visitors’ clubhouse the Marlins used.

On the Yankees, they just played a Washington Nationals team who saw Juan Soto test positive. At least according to Dr. Binney’s statements, the Nationals may still see more positives. Those players might’ve infected the Yankees players.

At this point, we just don’t know.

We also don’t know what impact this will have on players and their families. Zack Wheeler just pitched against the Marlins, and his wife recently delivered twins. His entire family, who are all high risk, might’ve been infected.

Freddie Freeman was healthy enough to play against the Mets after his own bout with COVID19. As he had fevers over 104 degrees, he was praying for his life.

Boston Red Sox pitcher, Eduardo Rodriguez had COVID19 as well. Currently, he is being tested and evaluated for myocarditis, a condition which diminishes the heart’s ability to pump blood. The myocarditis stems from his COVID19 infection.

We have no idea how this disease will impact people. As we see with Rodriguez, just because you don’t die doesn’t mean you won’t experience significant health issues as a direct result of this disease.

It should be noted Rodriguez’s Red Sox are facing a Mets team who may or may not be infected.

At this very moment, there’s the potential the Braves, Marlins, Mets, Phillies, Nationals, and Yankees have been exposed and infected. There could be more teams past them. For instance, the Royals and Rays have had players test positive this month.

Until MLB can do sufficient testing while accounting for an incubation period, the sport needs to be shut down. For now, based on epidemiologist suggestion, that’s at least five days. Once we get through this period, MLB can then decide if it’s safe to return to play, another five days are needed, or quite possibly, they need to shut it all down.

Regardless of the decision, one thing is clear. No one, especially those teams in the NL and AL East, should be playing today or even tomorrow. Time to shut it down and hope games can begin again soon.

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 43 R.A. Dickey

When signing players to minor league deals, it is really a no risk proposition. Whether it is a veteran player on his last legs or a journeyman just seeking an opportunity, when done right, the player gets a chance to prove themselves. This is the story of R.A. Dickey with the New York Mets.

Dickey was one time first round pick of the Texas Rangers who had his prospective bonus slashed considerably when it was discovered he was born without a UCL in his right elbow. He would eventually make it to the majors, but he struggled mightily because he just didn’t have the stuff to succeed. As a result, he had made the attempt to convert to being a knuckleball pitcher.

For any pitcher that is a difficult conversion with many pitchers taking years to accomplish the task. Many don’t make it. For Dickey, he didn’t succeed enough to stick with the Rangers, Mariners, or Twins organization. Heading into the 2010 season, the best he could do was grab a minor league deal with the Mets. It proved to be the best thing for both sides.

By that point, Dickey had perfected throwing his knuckleball. It was a different one than the ones we had see with knuckleball pitchers of old. Dickey had a hard knuckleball which danced a little less, and he could control it more. Still, Dickey also had that fluttery one which many became accustomed. The ability to mix up that pitch on speed and locations made him a unique and difficult to hit pitcher.

In 2010, he quickly made his Mets debut, and he would stick in the rotation. In his first start, he picked up a no decision despite allowing just two earned over six innings. After that, he would win his first six decisions as a pitcher for the Mets. Overall, it was a great debut which was highlighted by his one hitting the Phillies in a complete game shutout.

The 2010 season was where he proved he deserved a chance. The 2011 season was where he proved he belonged. In that season, he had a losing record which reflected how bad the Mets were. However, his 112 ERA+ was reflective of his being a good pitcher. In 2012, he would become a great pitcher.

In 2012, Dickey would shock everyone not only by being an All-Star for the first time in his career, but the 37 year old would win the Cy Young Award over Clayton Kershaw. While it may seem strange to believe Dickey could be better than Kershaw, he was. In that 2012 season, he led the league in starts, complete games, shutouts, nnings, and strikeouts. He would also have a number of highlights like becoming the first ever Major League pitcher to record back-to-back one hitters with 10+ strikeouts:

Moreover, Dickey would become the first Mets pitcher to win 20 games since Frank Viola did it in 1990. He was the first Mets right-handed pitcher to accomplish the feat since David Cone did it in 1988. He was the first pitcher to have 20 wins with a sub .500 team since Roger Clemens did it in 1997 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was the first knuckleball pitcher to accomplish the feat since Joe Niekro in 1980. It was that special a season.

That 20th win was his penultimate start with the Mets. After that, the rebuilding Mets would trade him to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package which included Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. To that end, even though he didn’t get to pitch for a winner with the Mets, he would help the team build their next winner.

Overall, Dickey joins Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, and Jacob deGrom as the only Mets pitchers to win a Cy Young. He is fourth all-time in Mets history with a 2.95 ERA, and he has the fifth best WHIP. By ERA+, he is the third best starter of all-time. Ultimately, he is the Mets best knuckleball pitcher and best player to ever wear the number 43.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 28 Daniel Murphy

The story with Daniel Murphy goes when he was in Jacksonville University, he introduced himself as “I’m Daniel Murphy from Jacksonville, and I hit third.” That would perfectly describe Murphy’s Mets career to an extent. While he played some questionable defense, he will forever known for his offensive exploits.

Murphy’s story with the Mets began in 2008. The team was fighting with the Phillies for the National League East crown in August, and due to a number of injuries, they rushed Murphy up from the minors and stuck him in left field despite his being primarily a third baseman in his career.

Murphy was a revelation for the Mets that year hitting .313/.397/.473 with nine doubles, three triples, two homers, and 17 RBI in 49 games. He’d also notably hold his own him left field. Thus began the odyssey of Murphy with the Mets where he played mostly out of position, hit, and was clutch.

In 2009, he was severely miscast as the Opening Day left fielder in Citi Field. The ballpark was far too spacious, and he was not really an outfielder. Due to a number of injuries, he would find himself at first base in place of Carlos Delgado. In that season, he would not only lead the team in homers, but he would also have the first homer at Citi Field which came as a result of replay review.

After an injury plagued 2010 season which he began in the minors because new GM had more faith in Brad Emaus and others, Murphy returned to the Majors in 2011, and he eventually won the everyday second base job. It was a breakout season for him where he had his second highest OPS+ in his Mets career.

From there, while trade rumors would constantly follow him, he emerged as one of the teams best and most reliable players. One of the most interesting things which happened was Murphy became an extremely effective stolen base threat despite not having overwhelming or even good speed. From 2013 – 2014, he would steal 27 consecutive bases. That’s the second longest streak in Mets history trailing only Kevin McReynolds.

In that 2013, he would actually lead the league in stolen base percentage. He would also finish second in the league in hits. The 2014 season would be a special one for Murphy. First and foremost, he became a dad, and he would attend the birth to much consternation. Later that year, he would make his first All-Star team and his only one with the Mets. As great as that year was, 2015 would be Murphy’s best in a Mets uniform.

Working with new hitting coach Kevin Long, Murphy worked on improving his plate discipline, launch angle, and pulling the ball. We would see all of that come to fruition with Murphy having one of the greatest postseasons we have ever seen becoming the first ever player to hit a homer in six consecutive postseason games.

There’s no understating how great a postseason that was. In that postseason, he homered off of Clayton Kershaw (twice), Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, and others. Kershaw is an all-time great pitcher, Greinke is a likely future Hall of Famer, and Lester is a great postseason pitcher. Murphy beat them all, and he did something only Lou Gehrig had ever done by having a hit, run, and RBI in seven consecutive postseason games.

To put it succinctly, it was Murphtober.

He didn’t just beat teams with his bat. He had a great diving play to end Game 1 of the NLDS, and he would also steal a key base. On that note, in Game 5 of the NLDS, Murphy had such a great game, it should be known as the Murphy Game.

In that game, he was 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, homer, two RBI, and a stolen base. He gave the Mets a first inning lead with a double scoring Curtis Granderson. In the fourth, with the Mets trailing 2-1, he caught the Dodgers asleep with the defensive shift going from first to third on a Lucas Duda walk. This enabled him to score on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly. Later, in the sixth, he hit the go-ahead homer.

In the Mets 3-2 victory, Murphy played a key role in all three runs. It makes it fair to say in a tightly contested series and game, the Mets lose without him. Without Murphy, there is no NLCS or pennant. On that note, he would break Mike Piazza‘s team record for postseason homers and become just the second Mets player to ever win the NLCS MVP. Like Ray Knight, he would find himself playing for another team in 2016. That would prove to be a giant mistake.

Overall, Murphy had a very good and somewhat underrated Mets career. His .288 batting average is the seventh best in team history. His 228 doubles are the third most. His 13.6 WAR is second only to Edgardo Alfonzo among Mets second baseman. Only Ron Hunt, Alfonzo, and Murphy have been All Stars at second base.

Overall, he is arguably the Mets best ever postseason hitter, and he is their second base second baseman of all-time. He is one of the most clutch players to ever wear a Mets uniform, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 28.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia

Mets Problematic Tommy John History

The concern with Noah Syndergaard having Tommy John surgery isn’t just his being gone for the 2020 season and a significant portion of the 2021 season. The larger problem from a Mets perspective is this team has not had the best history with Tommy John surgeries and rehabilitation.

Jeremy Hefner

The Mets don’t have to look any further than their pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. Back in 2013, he was putting together a promising campaign when it was discovered he had a torn UCL. During his rehab from Tommy John, things were not going well, and it was discovered he would need to undergo a second surgery. He would only pitch one season in the minors after that before retiring.

Matt Harvey

Hefner was rehabbing at the same time as Matt Harvey. When it was discovered Hefner needed the second surgery, the Mets had eased the throttle off of Harvey who was pushing to pitch in 2014. In 2015, despite agreements on his innings limit, the Mets reneged and pushed him to pitch, and Harvey would throw more innings than anyone in the history of baseball after their Tommy John surgery.

In 2016, he was just not good with everyone trying to figure out what was  wrong with him. It took a while to discover he had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Despite noticeable muscle atrophy, the Mets pitched him in 2017 leading to a stress reaction. Really, that was all but it for him as a Met and possibly his career. The big unknown is how the Mets handling of him affected his shoulder and/or aggravated or caused the TOS.

Bobby Parnell

Harvey would not be the only Mets pitcher to return in 2015 from Tommy John. The other notable pitcher to return was Bobby Parnell. After discovering a torn UCL the day after the 2014 Opening Day, Parnell underwent the surgery. A year later, a Mets team hoping to stay in the pennant race activated him well before the end of the 18 month rehabilitation period. Parnell didn’t have his fastball, and his command was shot. By the middle of August, he had pitched to a 6.38 ERA before being put on the DL with arm fatigue. He’d only pitch 5.1 Major League innings after this season.

Zack Wheeler

While Parnell was someone whose injury was discovered a day into the 2014 season, Zack Wheeler‘s torn UCL was discovered on the eve of the 2015 season. Wheeler had surgery, and he was slated to return in the middle of the 2016 season to help the Mets return to the postseason. During his rehab, he’d have issues with his stitches, and he would suffer a flexor strain when he was finally able to step on a mound again.

He wasn’t able to step onto a Major League mound again until April 2017, and he would have to be shut down that season due to a stress reaction in his right arm. Really, Wheeler wasn’t right until the 2018 season, which was three years after the first surgery.

Steven Matz

A Mets pitcher having this level of difficulty in their Tommy John rehab is not anything new. In fact, that was exactly the case with Steven Matz when he was in the minor leagues. After being drafted in 2009, it was discovered he had a torn UCL, and he needed to have Tommy John surgery.

Matz really struggled with the rehabilitation, and there was a significant amount of scar tissue. At one point, they were concerned he was going to need a second Tommy John surgery. The advice was to just pitch through it. Matz would do just that finally making his professional debut in 2012. His Tommy John issues would not re-emerge until 2017 when he needed ulnar nerve transposition surgery.

Jacob deGrom

When Matz underwent the surgery, he joined reliever Erik Goeddel and ace Jacob deGrom in having the surgery. With respect to Goeddel, he had Tommy John when he was in high school well before he was a member of the Mets organization. However, with respect to deGrom, he had his surgery and rehab as a member of the Mets organization.

With deGrom, he had seemingly appeared to be the one Mets pitcher who had a normal Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation. Yes, there were difficult times when he told Frank Viola he wanted to quit, but that was part of the normally grueling rehabilitation process and return. Ultimately, deGrom would become a Rookie of the Year winner, and he would introduce himself to the world with an incredible All-Star Game appearance and a postseason for the ages.

As noted with Harvey and Wheeler, Mets pitchers were dropping like flies in 2016. In addition to Harvey and Wheeler, Matz went down with a massive bone spur. It was then discovered during a pennant race, deGrom needed the ulnar transposition surgery. As we have seen, the surgery went well, and after a pedestrian 2018 season (by his standards), he has returned to be the best pitcher in baseball.

Keep in mind, the Mets checkered Tommy John history isn’t just recent. Jason Isringhausen would have the first of his three Tommy John surgeries with the Mets. Looking back at Generation K, he, Paul Wilson, and Bill Pulsipher would all have arm issues leading to them never pitching in the same rotation.

Position Players

The Mets haven’t had Tommy John issues with pitchers only. T.J. Rivera underwent the surgery in 2017, and he attempted to return too soon struggling in 22 at-bats. The Mets would release him, and he would play in the Atlantic Leagues for the Long Island Ducks before landing a minor league deal with the Philadephia Phillies. We will see if he can return.

Last year, we saw the Mets botch the handling of Travis d’Arnaud. Even with the team playing well with a tandem of Wilson Ramos and Tomas Nido, the team rushed d’Arnaud back to the majors before one full year of rehabilitation. He would have one of the worst games you would ever see a catcher have leading to the Mets rage cutting him.

He would first land with the Dodgers and then the Rays. Notably, he didn’t start really playing well until July, which was roughly 15 months after the surgery, which is much closer to the recommended 18 months.

This is not an extensive history, but it is a good snapshot of the struggles the Mets have had dealing with Tommy John surgeries. Perhaps, it is of no coinidence much of this has coincided with the Wilpon taking over majority control of the Mets, and as Pedro Martinez and others have noted, Jeff Wilpon’s interference with medical decision making has been a real issue.

Seeing the Tommy John problems the Mets have had, we get a better sense of why Seth Lugo was so unwilling to go through the process, and we see some of the dangers which may very well face Syndergaard as he attempts to return from the surgery before hitting free agency.

Mets Have Not Done Nearly Enough This Offseason

While Brodie Van Wagenen was touting Dellin Betances‘ ability to “blow the cover off their ceiling,” the fact of the matter is the Mets offseason has been tremendously underwhelming thus far. Really, when you break it down, it’s difficult to ascertain how this team can make up 11 games on the Atlanta Braves.

With Zack Wheeler departing for the Philadelphia Phillies, that’s 4.1 WAR going to a division rival. While they haven’t yet signed with another team, it is expected Todd Frazier (2.2 WAR) and Juan Lagares (-0.7) will sign with other teams.

Combined, that’s a 5.6 WAR.

With the additions of Betances (0.0), Jake Marisnick (1.2), Rick Porcello (1.1), and Michael Wacha (0.2). the Mets have only brought on players worth 2.5 WAR combined in 2020.

As a result, the Mets have yet to replace the production they’ve lost. What makes this problematic is their offseason appears fairly set.

Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie are taking up two roster spots, and with their salaries, the Mets are not going to just cut bait. Instead, the Mets are going to hope Cespedes can do what Troy Tulowitzki couldn’t do – return from double heel surgery.

When they finally discover what was wrong with Lowrie that limited him to eight pinch hitting attempts last year, we can then have a conversation about what, if anything, he can contribute.

Remember, this a Mets team which finished 11 games behind the Braves. They also finished behind the World Series Champion Washington Nationals too. The Mets needed to gain ground, not lose it.

Keep in mind, they’re not just losing grounds to the teams ahead of them, they are also losing it to the Philadelphia Phillies. That 4.1 WAR the Mets lost in Wheeler went to the Phillies. Joining him there is Didi Gregorius, who had a 0.6 WAR in limited duty. When you add a healthy Andrew McCutchen, they have not only offset the 1.7 WAR they lost with Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco, but they have improved upon it.

Now, this is where someone may want to point out how the Braves and Nationals are both searching for a new third baseman, and that the third basemen they had last year were their best players. That is true. The Braves losing Josh Donaldson (6.1), and the Nationals losing Anthony Rendon (6.3) were significant losses.

With respect to Donaldson, it should be noted both teams are still in on him and trying to do all they can to sign him. If either team signs him, that narrative is no longer in place as it comes to that team.

Going beyond that, both the Braves and Nationals have made moves to bolster their teams in the event they cannot land Donaldson.

The Nationals have been aggressive this offseason re-signing mid-season acquisitions Asdrubal Cabrera and Daniel Hudson. They have also added Starlin Castro (0.8), Eric Thames (1.6), and Will Harris (2.1). Combine that with the anticipation Carter Kieboom may be ready next year, and the Nationals have at least braced themselves for losing Rendon and missing out on Donaldson.

The Braves have also left third base open while addressing other areas. On the bullpen front, they have brought in Will Smith (2.2) while bringing back Chris Martin and Darren O’Day. They have also added Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate. They also potentially upgraded their rotation signing Cole Hamels to replace Dallas Keuchel.

When talking about the Braves, they also have a wealth of young talent in Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley, Mike Soroka, and others to close the gap on the potential loss of Donaldson. The same can be said with the Nationals with Juan Soto and Victor Robles.

As for the Mets, they could also seek to get some help internally with Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Amed Rosario taking the next step. However, the issue with that is whether it is enough to overcome not just the diminution in the talent the team had last year, but also whether it is enough to overcome the significant gap which already existed between them and the rest of the teams in the division.

While it is certainly possible the Mets can win the division in 2020, it is also fair to say they certainly have not done nearly enough this offseason to do that. Really, when you boil it down, the Mets are relying more on luck than anything else. Considering what is ahead and behind them in the division, that is not the best plan, and when you boil it down, they really needed more than just Marisnick.

Rick Porcello Makes No Sense For Mets

The Mets are in a spot where they need to find a fifth starter to replace Zack Wheeler in the rotation. Finding such a starter is complicated because the team is attempting to at least give the allusion they are trying to contend in 2020, but so far, they have very limited resources this offseason. In some ways, that makes Rick Porcello a prime candidate, which according to reports, he is.

Porcello, 30, is just a few years removed from winning the 2016 American League Cy Young. With his Cy Young, being a local kid from Morristown, New Jersey, and his having won a World Series, he is someone who could be sold to the fan base. The fact he has proven to be a durable starter who will make 30 starts a year and pitch over 170.0 innings is of real value. In essence, he could be viewed upon as a Bartolo Colon who keeps himself in shape, doesn’t cheat, and is not a deadbeat dad.

Make no mistake, Porcello does have real value as a fifth starter for any team. There is also some potential for some upside with him. After all, his ERA was worse than his FIP, and the Red Sox having just a putrid defense last year with a -40 team DRS. To that end, the Red Sox were particularly bad on the infield.

Among the biggest culprits were SS Xander Bogaerts (-21 DRS) and 3B Rafael Devers (-6 DRS). Ultimately, the Red Sox team -11 DRS at second was the second worst in the majors. Their -12 team DRS at third and -20 team DRS at short were the third worst in the majors. When you are a pitcher like Porcello who is a sinkerball pitcher, albeit one who is generating more fly balls in two of the last three years, that is not a recipe for success.

That is exacerbated by the batters only going the opposite way against Porcello 22.3% of the time. Ultimately, if Porcello is going to be successful, he needs a strong infield defense behind him. Moreover, with Baseball Savant noting how Porcello likes to pound the bottom of the strike zone, he needs a catcher who is adept at framing the low strike. Breaking it all down, Porcello and the Mets are a very poor match.

In terms of the infield defense, the Mets actually had a worse team defense than the Red Sox with a -93 DRS. That was the worst in the National League, and the second worst in the Majors. Remarkably, that was even worse than the -77 DRS the team had in 2018. What makes those numbers all the more daunting is the Mets appear set to lose Todd Frazier, their best defensive infielder, to free agency.

Like the Red Sox, the Mets were bad defensively across the infield. The Mets -5 DRS at first and -7 DRS at second were sixth worst in the majors. Their -5 DRS at third was the seventh worst in the majors. Finally, their -18 DRS at short was the fourth worst in the majors. As noted by Mark Simon of The Athletic, this is all exacerbated by the Mets being one of the worst defensively aligned infields in the majors. Part of that is an organizational philosophy which tries to minimize the extent to which the infield is shifted.

Now, there were some positives to the infield defense with Amed Rosario playing at a 0 DRS in the second half last year. Of course, behind that is the fact he has consecutive -16 DRS seasons at short. Also, while Frazier is leaving in free agency, Jeff McNeil has proven to be very good at third base in this brief Major League career. If it is him who takes over at third, and not J.D. Davis, the Mets might be able to put Porcello in a position to succeed.

The caveat there is Rosario’s second half improvement is real, and McNeil’s successes are not a short sample size illusion. If we believe in that, and there is reason to believe, that could help Porcello who has a high pull rate against him. However, that is mitigated by Robinson Cano and his poor play (-6 DRS) at second last year. It is very difficult to imagine Cano will be better at second in his age 37 season.

Even if the Mets find a way to configure the infield successfully, Wilson Ramos presents a significant problem.

As noted by MMO‘s Mathew Brownstein, the Red Sox were the fourth best framing team in the majors last year. With respect to Porcello, he had “the 13th-most pitches in the shadow zone (edges of strike zone) called for strikes in 2019.” With respect to Ramos, as noted by MMN‘s Roberto Correa, Ramos was in the bottom 15 in the Majors in framing. Particularly, Ramos struggled in the so-called shadow zone and the low pitch.

In terms of the Mets 2019 pitching staff, we would see this have a significant impact on both Noah Syndergaard and Edwin Diaz with Diaz being the far more vocal of the two. Really, across the board, Mets pitchers performed worse with Ramos behind the plate as the pitching staff adjusted from historically strong framers like Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. If Porcello is a Met in 2020, we will likely see him have similar struggles.

Ultimately, Porcello may well prove to be a quality fifth starter or better for some team in 2020. He may very well prove to be a surprise for teams who have good defensive infields as well as a catcher who can get him the low strike. Unfortunately, that team is not the New York Mets. As a result, Porcello should look elsewhere for that bounce-back season, and the Mets need to find another pitcher to fill that fifth spot in their rotation.

Mets Black Friday Deals

With yesterday being Black Friday, people ran out to stores and websites looking for deals, and today, they’re assessing what they got and still need to get. Being Mets fans, we expect the team to spend most of the offseason diving through the discount bins.

To a certain extent, every team needs to do that. The player signed to a minor league deal or on the cheap emerges to be much better than anyone could’ve reasonably expected. Many times, when that happens, your team takes it to the next level. In honor of Black Friday, here are some of the best bargain signings the Mets have made in their history.

For this list, we are only looking at players signed to minor league deals, and as this is the Mets we are talking about, it’s being run on Small Business Saturday.

C Todd Pratt  – he went from delivering Dominos to being signed to a minor league deal with the Mets. Three years later, Pratt would hit a walk-off homer off of Matt Mantei clinching the first NLDS in team history.

1B James Loney – in 2016, the Mets were left without a first baseman due to Lucas Duda‘s back injury as well as a host of other injuries on the team. Loney would step in and help the team hitting .305/.367/.463 over his first 22 games to help keep that team afloat and make that push for the Wild Card.

2B Jose Valentin – the Mets signed Valentin to be veteran depth only for him to fill the vacuum left at second base by Anderson Hernandez‘s offensive struggles and Kazuo Matsui‘s injuries. In addition to his 3.6 WAR in 2006, he would hit two homers in the NL East clincher.

3B Matt Franco – signed a minor league deal with the Mets entering the 1996 season. He’d emerge as a good pinch hitter who hit a game winning single off Mariano Rivera clinching the Mets first series win in the Subway Series.

SS Omar Quintanilla – the Mets let Jose Reyes go due to a mixture of the Madoff scandal and the belief Ruben Tejada was ready to be the every day shortstop. When Tejada wasn’t Quintanilla was a pleasant surprise with a career year before being traded for cash considerations.

LF Melvin Mora – Mora signed a minor league deal coming out of Japan. In the 162nd game of the 1999 season, he scored on a wild pitch enduring the playoff game. In the Grand Slam Single game, he hit the cut off man leading to Keith Lockhart getting cut down at the plate. In that postseason, he hit .400/.500/.600.

CF Endy Chavez – signed as a free agent prior to the 2006 season, a season where he’d have the greatest catch in NLCS history. He’d also have other defensive gems and game winning bunts in his Mets career.

RF Marlon Byrd – back in the cavernous Citi Field days, Byrd came to the Mets on a minor league deal in 2013 and hit 21 homers before getting traded to the Pirates in a deal which netted Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.

RP Pedro Feliciano – soon dubbed Perpetual Pedro due to his rubber arm, he’d be a key piece of a great 2006 bullpen, and he’d emerge as the best LOOGY in franchise history.

SP R.A. Dickey – this is the gold standard. Dickey was signed to a minor league deal in 2009, and a few short seasons later, he would become the biggest surprise Cy Young winner in Major League history. The Mets then selling high on him and getting Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud for him makes signing Dickey all the more legendary.