Travis Taijeron

How and Why Dominic Smith Became a Left Fielder

Last night, Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario collided in the outfield leading to a ball dropping and the go-ahead run scoring. When a gaffe like this happens, many are sent looking to pin blame. As has often happens since he was first called up to the majors, Smith was an easy target.

Before looking to levy the blame on him, it is important to review just how Smith became a left fielder.

Back in 2011, the now defunct Sandy Alderson regime made Brandon Nimmo their first ever draft pick. Since that time, the Mets have drafted and signed just 27 outfield prospects.

The breakdown goes: 2011 (six), 2012 (none), 2013 (three), 2014 (five), 2015 (three), 2016 (three), 2017 (four), 2018 (three).

Putting aside Nimmo and Michael Conforto, the outfielders the Mets have drafted since 2011 have played a combined 35 games at the Major League level.

Last year, Travis Taijeron hit .173/.271/.269, and this year, Kevin Kaczmarski is 0-for-5 with a walk.

Currently, the Las Vegas roster only has one outfielder drafted from the aforementioned draft classes on their roster – Kaczmarski. Kaczmarski is currently battling for playing time with players like Zach Borenstein, Bryce Brentz, Matt den Dekker, and Patrick Kivlehan.

Binghamton had Tim Tebow playing everyday because there really wasn’t a Mets draftee pushing him out of the lineup.

Champ Stuart, the Mets 2013 sixth round pick, is repeating the level, and he is hitting .136/.280/.264. Patrick Biondi, the Mets 2013 ninth round pick, is also repeating the level, and he is hitting .222/.333/.247.

Overall, that’s just three part time outfield draft picks playing in the upper levels of their minor league system. Combine them with Nimmo and Conforto, and that makes just five outfield draft picks playing in Double-A or high from the past eight drafts.

Given how much the Mets drafts have not provided much in terms of outfield depth, the Mets were faced with calling up a Major League has been or never was or to give the shot to Smith. Given how Peter Alonso was nipping at Smith’s heels from Double-A, learning another position did make some sense.

Believe it or not, Smith in the outfield was not as absurd a proposition as it may sound. He entered the year leaner and faster. As noted by Baseball Savant, his sprint speed is better Jose Bautista and Jay Bruce, two players the Mets have felt eminently comfortable in the outfield. When he was drafted, Baseball America noted Smith had a strong arm and was a “fringy defender with below-average speed” in the outfield.

Still, the Mets were forced into that position because of how they handled Smith.

After he struggled last year, they were wise to bring in competition for him in Spring Training in the form of Adrian Gonzalez. Partially due to Smith’s injury in Spring Training, Gonzalez did win the job. However, he played poorly.

In 21 April games, Gonzalez hit .227/.312/.394. After going 3-for-4 with two solo homers in a game at Cincinnati, Gonzalez returned to form hitting just .267/.323/.350 over his next 20 games leading to his eventual release.

With the way Gonzalez was playing, there was a real chance to call-up Smith and give him a shot. The Mets passed, and they instead decided to stick with a guy who was not producing.

When the Mets finally released Gonzalez, they gave Smith three games to prove he could produce at the Major League level. In those three games, he went 4-for-12 with a double, homer, and an RBI. After that three game stretch, Wilmer Flores came off the disabled list, and he was given the first base job.

With Flores being bestowed the first base job, Smith’s great experiment in the outfield truly began. With Smith not playing well in the outfield, he found himself on the bench, and eventually, he would head back to Triple-A. When he was sent back to Triple-A, he was entrenched as the left fielder because Alonso had been called up and given the first base job.

In the end, you have a former first round draft pick and former Top 100 prospect playing out of position because the Mets have failed to give Smith a chance, the team has failed to develop outfield prospects at the upper levels of their minor league system, and the team is more willing to give failing veterans a chance over a younger player who could improve with Major League coaching and playing time.

Overall, that is how you get a promising prospect in the outfield, and that is how you have two young players colliding in the outfield and costing the Mets a game.

For Thanksgiving, What Each Met Should Be Thankful For

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Dickey Great, Taijeron Walks Off

Almost five years ago to the day, R.A. Dickey took the mound for the Mets, and he earned his 20th win of the season all but locking up his highly improbable Cy Young Award. 

While Dickey hasn’t been anywhere near that good since the 2012 season, he looked like that pitcher once again tonight. He controlled his knuckleball extremely well not walking anyone. He kept the Mets honest by throwing his fastball just enough. 

Through six, the Mets accumulated just two hits – a second inning double by Brandon Nimmo and a third inning Travis Taijeron single. They didn’t amount to anything. 

Really, the Mets didn’t seem like they were going to touch Dickey until Kevin Plawecki hit what seemed to be the first mistake Dickey made all night for a two run homer. The homer pulled the Mets to within 3-2 making the game a bit more perilous for Dickey than originally anticipated when the inning began. 

It would be a two out Amed Rosario triple that finally chased Dickey from the game. With Dickey having been a beloved Met during his tenure, he received a well earned ovation as he entered the dugout.

Dan Winkler struck out Taijeron to end the jam preserving the 3-2 lead. 
The Braves were up 3-2 because they got to Rafael Montero early. 

A pair of first inning doubles from Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis gave the Braves a 1-0 lead. 

In the second, Montero got himself out trouble by issuing a lead-off walk to Dansby Swanson. He scored on a Jace Peterson double, and Peterson scored on an Ozzie Albies RBI single. It was be enough to ensure Montero would finish the year with an ERA over 5.00. 

On the season, Montero finished 5-11 with a 5.26 ERA. Keep in mind, this is what was deemed to be a resurgent year for Montero where the Mets think he could realistically be a contributor next year. 

While the three runs were enough to ding Montero, it would not prove enough to give Dickey a win partially because Sam Freeman was snake bit. 

The first issue was his issuing a one out walk to Nori AokiJohan Camargo would then throw the ball away on a Jose Reyes grounder setting up second and third with one out. 
Asdrubal Cabrera then ripped a line drive that should have give the Mets the lead. It would only be a game tying sacrifice fly because Inciarte did it against the Mets again:

After a scoreless ninth from Jeurys Familia, the Mets would have a chance to walk it off. It was going to be difficult against A.J. Minter who has had a terrific rookie season. 

The Mets would give the rookie his first loss of his career. 

The game winning rally started with a Plawecki single, and Juan Lagares pinch ran for him. Terry Collins then uncharacteristically allowed Dominic Smith to face a left-handed pitcher. The decision was all the more surprising when you consider the Mets had a bench full of right-handed batters. 

Smith rewarded Collins’ faith when he drew the first walk Minter has issued in his brief career. Not just a walk to a left-handed batter. First walk. 

After Rosario failed to lay down the sacrifice bunt, Taijeron delivered with a single to left giving him the first walk-off hit of his Major League career. 

Five years later, Dickey was great, and the Mets won the game. If this was really the end of his career, it was a fitting end for a pitcher that really helped turn the Mets around. 

Game Notes:  AJ Ramos has been unavailable with a bicep issue, and he may be done for the season. 

Cubs Show Mets How Much Better They Are

For three and a half innings, the Mets had fight, and they were actually leading the Cubs 1-0. They were in that position for unlikely reasons. 

The first is Travis Taijeron, who has struggled mightily since he was called up, delivered his first non-HR RBI as a major leaguer. That rally got started due to a Juan Lagares hustle double to start that inning. 

At the time the run was scored, you figured it wasn’t going to be enough for Robert Gsellman who was flirting with disaster only to be bailed out by some good defense and good luck. 

In the first, the Cubs had bases loaded and one out. With Willson Contreras having been ruled to have gone out of the baseline to avoid a Jose Reyes tag, Ian Happ grounded into an inning ending double play. 

The Mets turned their second double play in the third with Travis d’Arnaud throwing out Ben Zobrist after a Kris Bryant strikeout for the strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play. Before you get too excited by d’Arnaud, Zobrist was running at maybe half speed. 

Through three Gsellman was well over 60 pitches, and despite him throwing three straight scoreless innings, he was laboring. For those three innings, he bent. In the fourth, he broke. 

The Cubs tied the game on a Jose Quintana perfectly placed sacrifice bunt down the first base line. It not only allowed himself to reach safely, but he moved Jason Heyward to second. More than that, Kyle Schwarber scored on the play. 

He scored because Dominic Smith somehow got a late break and still tried to get Schwarber at the plate. Many will disagree, but trying to get Schwarber wasn’t a bad play because a better throw gets him. 

From there, the Cubs played Home Run Derby blowing the doors off the Mets. The first was a three run homer by Bryant off Gsellman. 

By the time the fourth inning was over, the Mets were down 4-1, and Gsellman had thrown 93 pitches. His final line in the loss was 4.0 innings, five hits, four runs, four earned, five walks, and four strikeouts. 

Schwarber would hit a solo homer off Tommy Milone in the fifth. Ian Happ homered off Josh Smoker in the seventh. 

In sum, the Mets would use four relievers to pitch the final four innings. All of them, Milone, Smoker, Jacob Rhame, and Chris Flexen, would pitch an inning and allow a run. They all contributed to the 8-3 loss.

If you’re looking at a positive from this loss, Asdrubal Cabrera was 3-4 with a double. However, the contributions of Reyes and Cabrera don’t mean much in what should be a 90 loss season. 

Other than Cabrera, you’re looking at Lagares and Amed Rosario each making terrific plays in the field. Short of that, there’s not much to be enthusiastic about in this loss. That is unless you think d’Arnaud throwing out a base runner and his fifth inning sacrifice fly was a big deal. 

It wasn’t. 

Game Notes: Erik Goeddel was unavailable as he was in New York seeing a doctor for dizziness and blurred vision. Nori Aoki grounded out with the bases loaded in the ninth to make it 8-3. 

Mets Prioritize Reyes, He Delivers

This must’ve been Terry Collins‘ favorite game in quite a while. Not only was he able to bat Jose Reyes lead-off, but he was also able to let him play shortstop due to the Amed Rosario finger issues. 

With Reyes hitting two home runs, his 100th and 101st with the Mets, accounting for three of the Mets five runs. With the way Collins manages, Reyes will continue to be the lead-off hitter for the rest of the year. If Reyes and Collins come back next year, you know Reyes will remain as the lead-off hitter. 

That’s why this September has been such a waste. We’re not finding out what we need to know about these players. 

Players like Travis Taijeron, who was added to the 40 man only due to the myriad of injuries to the Mets outfielders. He was a player who flashed power in the minors who hit his first career homer against Amir Garrett in the second. 

There’s Gavin Cecchini, who was hitless but made a great play in the field. 

Seth Lugo got through six scoreless today by finally making it through the lineup without getting scored upon. 
To a lesser extent, the Mets need to find out about Travis d’Arnaud who’s finally hitting again with Kevin Plawecki breathing down his neck.  He got a six inning rally started with another opposite field extra base hit. 

In the end, there are players the Mets need to learn about and develop. Instead, we’re getting Jose Reyes: Lead-off Hitter and Shortstop. The 5-1 win was nice. Focusing on player development would be better because that’s what the Mets need. 

Game Notes: Phillip Evans was called-up to the majors, and he made his MLB debut lining into a double play with the bases loaded in the sixth. To make room for him in the roster, Steven Matz has been put on the 60 day DL. 

Collins Focuses On Jose Reyes Development In This Loss

Terry Collins and the Mets continue to push the envelope. With each and every game, they continue to make decisions which continue to de-emphasize player development. 

In tonight’s example, Jose Reyes hit leadoff over Brandon Nimmo. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Collins double switched Amed Rosario out of the game in the sixth. As part of that move, Collins put Reyes at shortstop. 

When you manage like this, you deserve to have Reyes thrown out trying to steal a base down four in the seventh inning. 

Seriously, if Collins is going to make sure he plays Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera, he better make sure they play good fundamental baseball. If you’re having your young players learn by watching, have them learn by watching what to do. 

Speaking of what to do and not to do, knowing Collins the way we do, he’ll take issue with Chris Flexen

Sure, there were many issues with Flexen’s start. How could there not when you don’t make it out of the fifth. His final line was 4.2 innings, seven hits, seven runs, four walks, and four strikeouts. 

Those four walks hurt him too. He issued two of them in the first inning to help load the bases. After a Eugenio Suarez single and a Scott Schebler grand slam, the Mets fell behind the Reds 5-1 in the first. 

Flexen again walked two batters in the fifth. Not even Adam Duvall hitting into a double play would bail him out. Scooter Gennett would hit an RBI infield single off Flexen’s leg. After Flexen walked Suarez, Collins brought in Josh Smoker

Smoker allowed a Schebler RBI single. Nimmo had a shot at Gennett at the plate, but Travis d’Arnaud could not corral the short hop. Once Smoker got out of the inning, it was 7-1 Reds with all runs charged to Flexen. 

However, that won’t be what irritates Collins. It will be that Flexen showed up Reyes. 

Reyes was out there playing his first career game in left field. With the injuries and the possibility Reyes could return next year in a utility role, Reyes playing left isn’t a ridiculous idea. It’s just ridiculous he would lead-off. 

Reyes took a ridiculous route to a second inning Billy Hamilton fly ball. He broke in and the ball went well over his head. A clearly frustrated and dejected Flexen threw up his hand in disappointment. 

Yes, Flexen shouldn’t show up his fielders. That goes double when you’re walking the ballpark and giving up a grand slam. Still, this is the same Reyes who never had an issue doing this himself. Again, if you’re holding out players as an example, this is the stuff that happens. 

But this is Terry we’re talking about, and we know his veterans are Teflon. That goes double for Reyes. 

The Mets would attempt to make a game of it with the help of the surprisingly not double switched out of the game Dominic Smith

After a Cabrera walk and a d’Arnaud double, Smith hit a two out RBI single in the sixth to pull the Mets to within 7-3. 

Smith came up again in the eighth, and he collected his first career hit off a left-handed pitcher. It set up runners on the corners with two outs. Unfortunately, Travis Taijeron would strike out to end the inning. So far in Taijeron’s career, he’s 0-9. 

The Mets would get no closer than 7-3. In fact, things would get much worse. 

While Chasen Bradford has been really good this year with a 2.38 ERA in 17 appearances, he had nothing tonight. He recorded no outs while allowing seven runs (five earned) on six hits and one walk. 

The unearned runs were due to two Wilmer Flores errors in the inning. 

With Collins having done all he could do to burn out a larger than usual bullpen during Sunday’s double header, Collins finally did the right thing by going to a position player to pitch. 

Once again, we got to see Kevin Plawecki take the mound. Like most Mets pitchers this year, Plawecki fared better with d’Arnaud behind the plate than Rene Rivera

Plawecki came in with the bases loaded and no outs. Phil Ervin hit into a double play. After a Hamilton double, and a Flores error allowing Cozart to reach, two  of the three inherited runners had scored. Credit should be given to Hamilton who could’ve scored on the error but chose not to run up the score. 

In a shock to everyone, Plawecki got Joey Votto to ground out giving Plawecki a story to tell his grand kids. It’s certainly a better story than the contents of his locker. 

In the end, the Mets lost 14- 4 with that all too brief ninth inning rally ending on a Flores GIDP.  Right now, it’s not about wins and losses. It’s really about developing players by playing them and having them learn from their mistakes. 

Collins favorite young player Jose Reyes certainly has a lot to think about tonight. Hopefully, he learns from this, and he gets better. Certainly, the team needs him over the next decade. 

Game Notes: Plawecki became the second Mets position player to pitch twice in a season. The first was Matt Franco in 2000. Hat tip Greg Prince:

The win snapped a Mets 14 game winning steak against the Reds. 

Terry Collins Double Switches His Way to Double-Header Split

This was one of those days that makes you question why exactly the Mets are sticking with Terry Collins right now?  

He’s eschewing developing young players like Dominic Smith, but he makes sure to get Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera in the lineup. 

He also continues to make just poor decisions with his pitching. If you didn’t know any better, you’d expect Collins gets paid by the bullpen move, and he gets paid double for each double switch. 

He really pressures his pitching staff. Today, Collins took that to an absurd level. 

Even knowing Seth Lugo would be limited to 75 pitches in the second game of the double header, Collins ripped through his bullpen. 

Part of that was Tommy Milone only lasting 4.1 innings. The bigger part of that was Collins managing the game like it was Game 7 of the World Series to try to protect a five run lead. 

What was really irritating was Collins first ripped through the guys who could give him multiple innings – Hansel RoblesRafael Montero, and Josh Smoker. The trio combined to pitch one inning with 35 pitches. 

With all Collins histrionics, the Mets still blew the 5-0 lead. They got there because Cabrera and Flores hit a pair of homers. 

With the Mets blowing the lead, they needed another homer. Amed Rosario came through with an eighth inning homer off Joe Blanton

The Mets would hold onto the 6-5 lead with AJ Ramos getting the sixth out save to preserve the rare Mets Sunday win. Of course, to get the rare win, you needed a play you rarely if ever see. 

With Adam Lind getting the two out single to extend the game, Edwin Jackson pinch ran for him with Daniel Murphy coming to the plate as the go-ahead run. 

Murphy ripped a liner above a leaping Cabrera. Travis Taijeron, who had some on in one of the multitude of double switches, overran the ball, and Jackson broke towards home. 

Juan Lagares adeptly backup up Taijeron on the play. He then made a strong throw to Cabrera, who in turn, made a strong throw  to Travis d’Arnaud. With the tag, the Mets cut down Jackson, and the Mets won the game on your typical 9-8-4-2 put out. 
After this game, the question was whether the Mets pitching staff had enough bullets left to pull out a win in the nightcap. The answer was a resounding no.

The Mets had rallied from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the second game.  

Lagares knocked in the first run on an RBI double. He then came home to score on a Brandon Nimmo two run homer to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. It was short-lived. 

After Lugo went 3.2 innings allowing two runs, Smoker came on, and he kept the Nationals at bay in his 1.1 innings of work. 

Then came Robles in his second appearance on the day. After getting a Murphy line out, the Nationals had a runner on first with one out. 

Robles continued by walking the first four batters allowing the Nationals to not only tie the game, but also take a lead. On the bright side, Collins double-switched Smith out of the game meaning he was willing to sacrifice development to win this one game. 

Things could’ve been worse, but Chasen Bradford enduced Howie Kendrick to hit into the inning ending 4-4-3 double play. 

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Erik Goeddel pitched the eighth, and Lind took him deep to give the Nationals a 5-3 lead. The insurance run loomed large with the Mets rallying in the ninth off Sean Doolittle

d’Arnaud led off with a pinch hit single, and Gavin Cecchini singled to move d’Arnaud to second. With a 0-2 count, Reyes dropped a single right in front of Taylor allowing d’Arnaud to score to pull the Mets within one. 

The tomfoolery ended with a Lagares line out to Alejandro De Aza

Collins did everything he could to win both ends of the double header even if it meant eschewing his main responsibility right now- developing players. He didn’t care what he did to the bullpen. For all that effort, he just had a split to show for it. 

Game Notes: Kevin McGowan was activated for the second half double-header as the 26th man. He would not pitch. 

Didn’t Exactly Miss This Game

Terry Collins benched Dominic Smith against Gio Gonzalez, and he batted Brandon Nimmo eighth. 

Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes gone for the season. 

Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera played over Gavin Cecchini

Michael Taylor nailing a slower than molasses Cabrera at home by a healthy margin:


Robert Gsellman certainly didn’t look like a guy who cared whether his manager thought he needed to improve. 
The first inning rally got started on an error from him, and he threw a wild pitch allowing a run to score. Before the inning ended it was 4-0 Nationals. 

It was a gorgeous sunny day outside, and my son wanted to go play baseball outside with me. 


To paraphrase Peter Gibbons, “I wouldn’t say I missed the last eighth innings, Bob.”

No, not even with Wilmer Flores going 4-4 with a run, double, home run, and three RBI. 

Judging from the 9-4 final score, I made the raise decision. 

Game Notes: Travis Taijeron made his Major League debut going 0-4. Jeurys Familia made his first appearance since returning from the disabled list. He pitched one inning allowing three runs on four hits and two walks. 

Mets Have Rule 5 Decisions to Make

With the Mets adding Gavin Cecchini to the 40 man roster to sit on the bench as the Mets are chasing down a Wild Card spot, the team had one less decision to make on who should be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft this offseason.  Even if the Mets didn’t add Cecchini now, he was going to be added in the offseason.  Cecchini is too valuable a prospect, and he would be snatched up immediately in the Rule 5 Draft.

Cecchini was not the only player the Mets were going to have to make a decision on this offseason.  In fact, the Mets have to make a decision on 66 different prospects about whether or not they should be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.  Here is a review of some of the more notable Mets prospects that need to be added to the 40 man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft:

AMED ROSARIO

SS Amed Rosario (Advanced A & AA) .324/.374/.459, 24 2B, 13 3B, 5 HR, 71 RBI, 19 SB

Yes, if it hasn’t been apparent this entire year, Rosario is in a class all by himself.  If he’s not added to the 40 man roster someone is getting fired.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

1B/3B Matt Oberste (AA) .283/340/.409, 21 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 54 RBI, 1 SB

One issue that has plagued Oberste his entire minor league career is he has to fight for at bats as he is usually behind a bigger Mets prospect.  That has been literally and figuratively Dominic Smith (who is not yet Rule 5 eligible).  Oberste was an Eastern League All Star; however, the issue that is always going to hold him back is the fact that he is a corner infielder that does not hit for much power. Most likely, Oberste will not be added to the 40 man roster.

CF Champ Stuart (Advanced A & AA) .240/.314/.349, 12 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 40 SB

Stuart is an elite defensive outfielder that has speed on the bases as evidenced by him stealing 40 bases this season.  The issue with Stuart is he is a maddening offensive player.  He went from hitting .265/.347/.407 in 71 games for Advanced A St. Lucie to hitting .201/.264/.261 in 43 games for AA Binghamton.  While he certainly has the tools to possibly be a big leauger one day, he’s too far away at this point.  Also, with teams putting more of a premium on offense than defense, it’s likely he will not be protected, and he will go undrafted.

C Tomas Nido ( Advanced A) .320/.357/.459, 23 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 0 SB

This year was a breakout season defensively and offensively for the Florida State League batting champion.  Normally, with Nido never having played a game in AA, the Mets would be able to leave him unprotected and be assured he wouldn’t be drafted.  However, with catcher being such a difficult position to fill, it’s possible a bad team like the Braves takes a flyer on him and keeps him as the second or third stringer catcher all year.  It’s exactly how the Mets lost Jesus Flores to the Nationals many years ago.

SP Marcos Molina 2015 Stats (Rookie & Advanced A) 9 G, 8 GS, 1-5, 4.26 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 7.9 K/9

Molina did not pitch for the Mets organization for the entire 2016 season as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery.  The Arizona Fall League will be his first time facing batters in a game since his eight starts for St. Lucie in 2015.  It’s likely he will go unprotected and undrafted.

ARMS THAT COULD HELP IN 2017

RHP Paul Sewald (AAA) 56 G, 5-3, 19 saves, 3.29 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 11.0 K/o

In many ways, it is surprising that a Mets bullpen that was looking for an extra arm never turned to Sewald.  While he struggled to start the season like most pitchers transitioning to the Pacific Coast League do, Sewald figured it out and had a terrific second half with 10 saves, a 1.85 ERA, and a 0.95 WHIP.  Sewald should be protected.  In the event he isn’t, he should be as good as gone.

RHP Beck Wheeler (AA & AAA) 47 G, 0-3, 6 saves, 5.98 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 12.1 K/9

Wheeler went unprotected and undrafted last year, and based upon the numbers he put up in his time split between Binghamton and Las Vegas, it appears the same thing will happen this year.  The one reservation is like with the Braves interest in Akeel Morris, teams will always take fliers on guys with mid 90s fastballs who can generate a lot of strikeouts.  It just takes one team to think they can help him reduce his walk rate for him to go in the Rule 5 draft.

RHP Chasen Bradford (5 saves, 4.80 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) – Bradford regressed statistically from last year in large part because he is a sinker/slider pitcher that pitches to contact.  On the bright side, he walks very few batters meaning if you have good infield defense, he will be a successful pitcher for your team.  His numbers should scare off a number of teams in the Rule 5 draft just like it did last year.

RHP Ricky Knapp (Advanced A & AA) 25 G, 24 GS, 13-6, 2.69 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.3 K/9

Knapp started the year in St. Lucie, and he finished it with a spot start in Las Vegas.  Knapp doesn’t have any plus pitches, but he gets the most out of all of his pitches because he is excellent at hitting his spots.  He is a very polished product that is best suited to being a starting pitcher.  Since he doesn’t strike out many batters, teams will most likely pass on him in the Rule 5 draft.

RHP Luis Mateo (AA & AAA) 51 G, 4-4, 1 save, 2.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.0 K/9

He’s a fastball/slider pitcher with a low 90s fastball that generates a fair share of groundball outs while keeping the ball in the ballpark.  While his ERA should entice teams, his WHIP and strikeout rate may keep them away just like it did last year when the Mets left him exposed to the Rule 5 draft.  He will most likely begin next year in AAA.

RISING PROFILES

2B/3B/SS Phillip Evans (Advanced A & AA) .321/.366/.460, 30 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 1 SB

The Eastern League Batting Champion certainly raised his profile with a much improved offensive season.  He’s starting to become more selective at the plate and learn how to be less of a pull hitter.  The main issue for Evans is he may not have a position.  While he can make all the plays at the infield positions, he lacks range to be a solid middle infielder.  He also lacks the arm strength and power numbers you would want at third base.

RHP Chris Flexen (Advanced A, AA, AAA) 25 GS, 10-9, 3.56 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6.4 K/9

Flexen appears to be in the mold of a typical Mets pitching prospect in that he has a high 90’s fastball and a good slider.  Despite the repertoire, he is not generating a lot of strikeouts right now.  On the bright side, he does generate a number of ground balls while limiting home runs.   He was rumored to be part of the initial Jay Bruce trade that fell apart due to an unnamed prospect’s physical (does not appear to be him).  A second division club like the Reds could take a flyer on him and put him in the bullpen for a year to gain control over him despite him never having pitched at a level higher than Advanced A St. Lucie.

RHP Tyler Bashlor (Full Season & Advanced A) 54 G,  4-3, 2.75 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 11.8 K/9

While the 5’11” Bashlor is short on stature, he has a big arm throwing a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider which he used to dominate in the Sally League.  Bashlor used these pitches to strike out 11.8 batters per nine innings.  Like Flexen, there is danger exposing a big arm like this even if the highest level of experience he has is four games for Advanced A St. Lucie.

RHP Kevin McGowan (Advanced A & AA) 42 G, 4 GS, 2 saves, 2.35 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 8.9 K/9

McGowan is a fastball/changeup pitcher that still needs to develop a breaking pitch.  While that fastball/changeup combination has been good enough to get batters out at the lower levels of the minor leagues, he is going to need another pitch if he is going to progress as a pitcher.

DISAPPOINTING SEASONS

RF Wuilmer Becerra (Advanced A) .312/.341/.393, 17 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 34 RBI, 7 SB

Around the time of the Rule 5 Draft last year, the debate was whether a bad team like the Braves would take a flyer on Becerra just to get the promising young outfielder into their organization.  Unfortunately, Becerra would have a shoulder injury that would rob him of his budding power.  More importantly, that shoulder injury would require surgery ending his season after just 65 games.

1B/3B Jhoan Urena (Advanced A) .225/.301/.350, 17 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 53 RBI, 0 SB

With the emergence of David Thompson, Urena was pushed from third to first.  However, that isn’t what was most troubling about his season.  In fact, many questioned whether he could stay at third given his frame.  The issue was the switch hitting Urena stopped hitting for power this season.  With his not hitting for power, Rosario’s best friend in the minors should go undrafted in the Rule 5 Draft.

LHP Paul Paez (Advanced A & AA) 34 G, 4-1, 3.88 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.9 K/9

This year Paez failed to distinguish himself by not pitching particularly well for St. Lucie and then struggling in Binghamton.  He only has a high 80’s fastball and lacks a true swing and miss breaking pitch.  While lefties hitting .308 off of him this year, he may not even have a future as a LOOGY in a major league bullpen.

NEEDS TIME TO DEVELOP

OF Patrick Biondi (Advanced A) .271/.352/.332, 17 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 34 RBI, 26 SB

While Biondi’s stats look good on the surface, it should be noted at 25 years old, he is old for the level.  On the bright side, Biondi has speed and is a good defender in CF.  However, until he starts getting on base more frequently, he will not be considered for the 40 man roster.

RHP Nabil Crismatt (Short & Full Season A) 13 G, 7 GS, 1-4, 1 Save, 2.47 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 10.1 K/9

Crismatt is only 21, but he is mature in terms of his ability to control his changeup and curveball and throw them at any point in the count.  Couple that with a low 90s fastball that could gain velocity as he ages, and you have someone who has the repertoire to be a major leaguer.  However, considering he hasn’t faced stiff competition yet in his career, he is nowhere ready for the majors, at least not yet.

2B/3B/SS Jeff McNeil 2015 Season (Advanced A & AA) .308/.369/.377, 18 2B, 6 3B, 1 HR, 40 RBI, 16 SB

Coming into the season, McNeil appeared to be more mature physically and at the plate.  He seemed ready to begin hitting for more power while still being able to handle 2B defensively.  Unfortunately, he would only play in three games this season for Binghamton before going on the disabled list needing season ending sports hernia surgery.

RHP Tim Peterson (Advanced A & AA) 48 G, 4-1, 2 saves, 3.03 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 12.3 K/9

At each and every level Peterson has pitched, he has shown the ability to strike people out with a fastball that touches on the mid 90s and a plus curveball.  The only issue for him in his career so far was his PED suspension in 2014.

AAAA PLAYERS

OF Travis Taijeron (AAA) .275/.372/.512, 42 2B, 5 3B, 19 HR, 88 RBI, 1 SB

Taijeron continued to do what he does best, which is get on base and hit for power.  Despite a strong Spring Training and another solid offensive season, the Mets really showed no interest in calling him up to the majors.  He will most likely go unprotected, but maybe this year a team out there desperate for some power in the outfield or on the bench will give him a shot.

2B L.J. Mazzilli (AA & AAA) .239/.320/.348, 18 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 43 RBI, 8 SB

Lee Mazzilli‘s son is a grinder out there who plays a decent second base.  Unfortunately, it appears his bat will prevent him from ever getting a real shot to ever play in the big league.

PREDICTIONS

Guaranteed: Rosario

Likely: Flexen, Nido

Bubble: Bashlor, Knapp, McGowan, Sewald, Wheeler

As for the remaining players, the Mets may very well gamble exposing them to the Rule 5 Draft and potentially lose them to another team.  It is also possible the Mets unexpectedly protect a player like Knapp.  In any event, the Mets have a number of important decisions to make that can have far reaching implications.

 

 

Rafael Montero Is a Non-Starter for the Mets

In the offseason, the Mets have more 40 man roster decisions looming.  Here are some notable Mets minor leaguers who will be needed to be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft:

  1. Amed Rosario
  2. Wuilmer Becerra
  3. Gavin Cecchini
  4. Marcos Molina
  5. Paul Sewald
  6. Travis Taijeron
  7. Paul Paez
  8. Phillip Evans
  9. Champ Stuart
  10. Chase Bradford

There are many other roster choices the Mets will have to make aside from the aforementioned players.  With that the Mets are going to have to make some tough 40 man decisions.  With the Mets refusal to call-up Rafael Montero, he certainly stands to be one of the first people cut from the roster.  With that in mind, isn’t it in the Mets best interests to find out what they have in him?

At this point in his career, Montero was supposed to be a fixture in the Mets rotation, or at the very least, a part of the Mets bullpen.  Instead, he is stuck in AA, and he appears on his way out of the Mets organization.

The beginning of the end was last year when he complained of a shoulder injury after being demoted.  The Mets insisted he should be able to pitch through it while Montero stated he couldn’t.  It led to Terry Collins giving him a pep talk during a Mets road trip to Miami last August.  Collins then lectured Montero in Spring Training about how he needed to step it up; how it was supposed to be him instead of Bartolo Colon for the fifth spot.  Montero wouldn’t make it out of the first inning in his first Spring Training start, and he would be part of the first group of players demoted to Minor League Spring Training.

Due to a short Steven Matz start and a taxed bullpen, Montero would get called up to pitch out of the bullpen.  Even in obvious situations to use him, Collins refused.  Montero would go over a week without pitching a game, and when he did pitch, Montero would show his rust.  In his two appearances, he pitched 2.1 innings with an alarming 11.57 ERA.  Montero would be demoted.  It wouldn’t be his last demotion.

After going 4-6 with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.888 WHIP in 16 AAA starts, he was sent down to AA where he has thrived.  In eight starts, Montero has gone 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP.  It is the best Montero has pitched in his professional career.  Arguably, Montero has become the Mets best minor league pitcher.  Still, the Mets have routinely passed him over.

When Matt Harvey went down for the season, the Mets turned to Logan Verrett.  When Verrett proved he couldn’t be a starting pitcher at the major league level, the Mets went to Jon Niese and his 5.20 ERA to take the fifth spot.  The Mets chose a struggling Gabriel Ynoa as insurance for Niese.  When Steven Matz first had his start skipped, the Mets went with Seth Lugo in the rotation.  Now that Matz is on the disabled list, Lugo is firmly in the rotation.  With Niese going on the disabled list and Robert Gsellman performing admirably in relief last night, Gsellman is going to take Niese’s sport in the rotation, which used to be Verrett’s spot, which used to be Harvey’s spot.  Point is the Mets are going through a lot of pitchers before even considering Montero.

The Mets didn’t even so much as call-up Montero to take Ynoa’s or Gsellman’s spot in the AAA rotation.  They didn’t go to Montero for a spot start or to go back to the bullpen.  The Mets went with Ynoa and Gsellman despite them not being relievers and with Montero having experience as a reliever.  It’s likely the Mets won’t turn to Montero unless there is another rash of injuries to the pitching staff, and perhaps not even then.  It is possible the Mets will call him up September 1st, but given Collins apparent unwillingness to use him, it’s extremely doubtful he will even appear in a game.

Fact is Montero is done with the Mets, and he is merely occupying a very valuable 40 man roster spot.  A roster spot the Mets could have used to protect Dario Alvarez, a very valuable reliever the Mets lost for  nothing.  A roster spot the Mets will need to protect a prospect who still has a future with the team.  Montero has no future with the Mets, and the Mets aren’t even going to see what they have in him before he leaves the team.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Minors