It was never set up for Luis Rojas to succeed as the manager of the New York Mets. With his firing, which is what happened when the Mets didn’t pick up his option, it was deemed Rojas did not succeed.
In 2020, he took over a team after Carlos Beltran was forced out without managing a game. He had to take over a team in Spring Training with a coaching staff he didn’t assemble, and by the way, a once in a century pandemic hit.
Entering this season, there were massive expectations, and understandably so given the ownership change and Francisco Lindor trade. That said, the cards would be stacked against Rojas a bit.
Unless you count his two late September appearances as an opener, Syndergaard didn’t start a game. Carlos Carrasco didn’t pitch until July 30, and he was rushed.
The injuries really were the story and the problem. Of course, the biggest injury was Jacob deGrom. In the midst of what was his best year, he went down.
Michael Conforto had COVID, got hurt, and faltered. Lindor struggled to adjust, and when he did, he got hurt. At one point, there were so many injures, James McCann had to play first base for a stretch.
Keep in mind, the Mets entered the season without a third baseman or left fielder. Dominic Smith can hit (when he wasn’t playing through injuries like he did all year) and he can play a terrific first, but he’s just not a left fielder.
Eventually, the replacements to the replacements got hurt. Eventually, the dam had to break.
Despite everything, Rojas had the Mets in first place at the trade deadline by 3.5 games. At various times, even if it was just in passing, he was mentioned as a potential Manager of the Year.
The pitching was on fumes, and the best the Mets could do at the trade deadline was Trevor Williams. The Mets thought so highly of him, he was immediately assigned to Syracuse.
Eventually, the magic touch wore off, but then again, when Albert Almora is on your bench, you don’t need magic; you need a miracle. There were no miracles forthcoming.
We saw the cracks in the team. The offense who shifted from Chili Davis to Hugh Quattlebaum never clicked. The barren upper levels of the minors leagues left behind by Brodie Van Wagenen haunted the team. Ultimately, there were just too many injuries which probably should’ve been expected a year after the 2020 COVID impacted season.
There were embarrassments like the first Mets GM Jared Porter being fired for harassment. The next, Zack Scott, took a leave of absence after his DUI arrest during the season. While not of the same vein, there was the Javier Báez-Lindor thumbs down drama.
At some point, the team we all thought would win the World Series became a flat out bad team. They’d set a record by being in first place for as long as they did only to finish under .500.
Yes, during this time, Rojas made some bizarre moves. While the focus was on that, his successes were overlooked, downplayed, or not acknowledged. That’s unfortunate.
What’s also unfortunate was after what was only one full season, Rojas was fired. He never got the opportunity to learn and grow as a manager. He didn’t get to build on the things he did well.
Instead, he’s out as manager.
With the collapse, this was obviously coming. After all, Sandy Alderson wasn’t going to fire himself for punting the trade deadline and having his big time hires blow up in his face.
Between the need for a fall guy and the Mets pursuing a new president of baseball operations, Rojas was as good as gone. After all, the new POBO would want his own guy as manager.
The end result was Rojas losing his job as manager. It’s unfortunate because he never really had a chance. It’s very likely he will get that chance somewhere else, and he will very likely do well.
Until then, it’s incumbent on the Mets to prove they did the right thing. If Rojas’ all too brief tenure is any lesson, that stats and ends with building your roster because no manager, no matter how good, is going to be able to win without two regular players, shallow pitching depth, and all those injuries.
In what should be his last start of the season, Tylor Megill struggled against the Milwaukee Brewers. In 4.0 innings, he allowed a career high three homers while allowing four earned on five hits.
With the New York Mets 5-1, loss and the surging St. Louis Cardinals win, the Mets were officially eliminated from the Wild Card race. It’s only a matter of time before they’re mathematically eliminated from the NL East race.
Given that this once promising season is all but over, and really has been for some time now, it begs the question why Megill is even pitching. His previous career high in innings as a professional was 71.2.
That came back in 2019 before COVID changed everything. Instead of taking a step forward in 2020, Megill threw zero innings. Yes, there were workouts, but that’s not really the same.
When Megill was a somewhat surprising call-up, he had already thrown 40.1 innings. Shockingly, he’s thrown 84.2 innings in the majors alone. That’s 125.0 innings!
That puts him a staggering 53.2 innings above his career high. Again, that came two years ago. This is an extraordinary taxing of a promising pitcher’s arm. It’s no wonder we’ve seen him take a step back.
Through Megill’s first seven starts, he was 1-0 with a 2.04 ERA, 1.104 WHIP, and a 9.9 K/9. Through that point in his season, he had thrown 75.2 innings between the minors and the Mets.
That was roughly the equivalent of being one start past his career high in innings. Since that time, Megill has looked like a completely different pitcher.
Since that July 28 start, he’s made 10 additional starts to diminishing returns. Over this stretch, he’s 2-6 with a 6.75 ERA, 1.450 WHIP, and a 9.9 K/9. Batters are hitting .299/.349/.599.
Pennant race or not, his arm is done for the year. The only thing pitching him more frequently is stressing his arm thereby putting it in harm for a significant injury.
This was supposedly the reason why the Mets added Trevor Williams at the trade deadline. He was a depth arm to help get the Mets to the end of the year. Instead of taking Megill’s spot, he’s in the bullpen.
There’s no sugar coating this. What the Mets are doing is highly irresponsible. In fact, it’s flat out dumb. They’re risking injury for a young pitcher to not make the postseason.
Tylor Megill needs to be shut down now. The Mets can figure out what they need to figure out. Whatever the case, Megill can’t throw another inning this season.
There’s a lot of blame directed at Luis Rojas for another brutal New York Mets loss in September. Absolutely, there were some questionable moves.
Marcus Stroman was lifted after six great innings despite being at 89 pitches. On a day when Seth Lugo was unavailable, Aaron Loup, Trevor May, and Edwin Diaz didn’t go multiple innings. There were also pinch hitting decisions.
Putting aside the fact the pitching increasingly looks scripted like with Kevin Cash and Blake Snell in the 2020 World Series, the real issue is this roster. It was a roster largely unaddressed at the trade deadline.
This was a team which had zero hits from innings 2-8 until Javier Báez‘s clutch game tying homer. Yes, he was a trade deadline acquisition, and he’s been great.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 15, 2021
However, that’s one, and with all apologies to Trevor Williams, really, the only player the Mets added at the deadline. A team in first place didn’t feel terribly compelled to go for it.
The days of the 40 man September rosters are no more. With all due respect, these are three players who should not be rostered at this point in the season. It’s inexcusable for a front office to let this happen.
Rojas did all he could to stop the game from getting to this point. However, you can only avoid the bottom of your roster for so long. Eventually, they’re going to get to play and impact a game and a season.
Ultimately, that’s what happened last night. Instead of asking why Rojas used those players when he did, we should be asking why are these players even here.
Before the suspended game from April 11 resumed, there was the theatre of the absurd where Javier Báez and Francisco Lindor were forced to apologize for the thumbs down controversy. Their qualifying the apology certainly didn’t help matters.
What really didn’t help was the Mets falling behind 5-1 to the Miami Marlins. It also didn’t help Jesus Aguilar was taunting them during the game.
Worse yet, this was the same old story with the Mets blowing chance after chance after chance. That includes the eighth when Báez was announced as a pinch hitter. He was booed lustily by the sparse crowd. It’ll probably be the last time he’s ever booed.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 31, 2021
Báez hit an infield single scoring Smith pulling the Mets to within 5-4. Michael Conforto followed with an opposite field single easily scoring Alonso to tie the game. When Jorge Alfaro, a catcher somehow thrown to left, bobbled the ball, Báez made a mad dash for home.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 31, 2021
It was a run arguably only Báez could score. It involved a player with speed who always hustles, and a player with a high baseball IQ willing to take calculated risks. The end result was a win and a great call from Gary Cohen.
Michael Conforto blasted one a long way in Tuesday's nightcap, so here's another Gary call and pen slam for your timeline 🎙️
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 1, 2021
This was a win which flipped the script. Not only did it take a bad loss and make it a great win, but it changed the narrative and reaction towards Báez.
It was also a win with legs. The Mets would get off and running in the fourth with a Conforto two run homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 1, 2021
Later in the inning, Jeff McNeil would double home Báez. It was 3-0, and the Mets would hold on.
Edwin Diaz came in the seventh and retired the side in order for his eighth consecutive save. With that, it was a doubleheader sweep.
This day had all the feel of the Wilmer Flores walk-off. With the Mets 5.5 games out of a postseason spot with a month left in the season, who knows?
Doubleheader Notes: Jeurys Familia picked up the win in the first game. Loup won the second game. Between games, Luis Guillorme was activated off the IL, and Brandon Drury was optioned. Yennsy Diaz was the 27th man.
As things started to slip, acting general manager Zack Scott had a press conference blaming the players for their injuries. He also called the team he assembled mediocre.
Now, that the season is falling apart with the Mets in third and 3.5 games back, owner Steve Cohen is now attacking the players:
It’s hard to understand how professional hitters can be this unproductive.The best teams have a more disciplined approach.The slugging and OPS numbers don’t lie.
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) August 18, 2021
Cohen, Scott, and whoever is with the front office can put the blame on the players all they want. Fact is, they assembled the roster, and they opted not to fortify a roster 3.5 games up in the standings at the trade deadline.
Their lone Major League acquisition was Javier Báez, a player who was dealing with heel issues at the time of the trade. He would play 10 games before hitting the IL.
The team failed to really add another starter. You could say Trevor Williams, but considering the Mets keep stashing him in Syracuse, they didn’t add one.
The Mets didn’t add to a bullpen who has been HEAVILY used. There are signs of overwork and fatigue with everyone but Aaron Loup. The front office opted to instead ride with pitchers like Anthony Banda, Yennsy Diaz, Geoff Hartlieb, and others of the same ilk in big spots.
Another important matter here is Chili Davis. His track record shows how players under his tutelage fall down this path. Despite that, they opted to keep him to start the season.
As an example of the Davis effect look at Kris Bryant. He went from an MVP to the absolute worst offensive season of his career. With Davis gone, he’s again improved to being Bryant again.
There’s another important point on Bryant. The Mets have punted on third base all year. They hoped for J.D. Davis to magically learn the position (he didn’t) or for Jonathan Villar to be a regular player (he’s been somewhat).
The Mets had the option to address the rotation, bullpen, third base, and the depth that includes non-playable players like Kevin Pillar. As we saw with the Braves, that didn’t need to be blockbuster deals.
Remember, the Dodgers current run was jump started by trading for Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez. That option was on the table with the Twins looking to move Josh Donaldson and Kenta Maeda to the Mets.
Adding Donaldson and Maeda would’ve transformed the Mets and made them significantly better. However, the deal fell apart over money.
Therein lies another problem. Entering the season and at the trade deadline, the Mets treated the luxury tax threshold as a hard cap. They were unwilling to surpass it despite the very soft penalties for first time offenders. They were unwilling to surpass it despite a new CBA being negotiated this offseason which will likely change the threshold and penalties.
All told, the Mets front office just wasn’t willing to do what they needed to do to win the division. They failed to give a first place team what they needed to stay there.
In the end, they can point all the fingers they want, but at the end of the day, this team is a direct reflection of their actions, and when this team misses the postseason, they have no one to blame but themselves.
When trying to digest and assess how the New York Mets went from in control for the division to second place in a dogfight, there’s a lot of areas you can analyze. When this happens, there are some issues.
They don’t hit with RISP and sometimes not at all. Their depth across the board has been tested and exposed. If you pinpoint these, you’re not wrong, but there’s a bigger issue.
The 2021 New York Mets are a horrible road team.
So far, the Mets have a 23-35 (.403) road record. No other team with a record over .500 has been anywhere near this bad on the road. This is a road record more indicative of the Chicago Cubs, who traded Javier Báez and Trevor Williams to the Mets at the trade deadline.
This isn’t just because of injuries. It happened right out of the gate. They lost their opening series at the Phillies. After winning a series in Colorado, they were swept in Wrigley.
So far, the Mets have played 20 road series. They’ve lost 11, and out of those 11, they were swept twice. They lost three out of four three times. What’s incredulous is that came against the Washington Nationals, Pittsburg Pirates, and Miami Marlins.
The Mets have one just six road series with one of those coming against the Yankees. It shouldn’t be discounted as happening in New York because of their Subway Series history. That said, there may be something to just being home and that routine.
The biggest reason could be the pitching. While the Mets pitchers are dominant at Citi Field with a 3.03 team ERA (third best in the majors), they’re poor on the road. That road ERA rises to 4.39.
Combine that with the Mets actually hitting worse on the road (90 wRC+) than at home (100 wRC+), and you have what looks like a second division team on the road.
The question is what this means for the Mets chances of winning the division. On that keep in mind, they’re tied in the loss column meaning they’re effectively tied for the division lead.
They have 48 games remaining. Of that 48, half of them are on the road. If they keep the same road winning percentage, that drops their record from 59-55 to 69-69.
As such, if they want to win 90 games, they’ll have to finish the season 21-3 at home. The near impossibility of doing that is magnified by the Mets still needing to host the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and New York Yankees.
This means if the Mets want a road to the postseason, they’re going to have to be better on it. They won’t have an easy path facing the Giants and Dodgers on the road next week with a series against the Boston Red Sox on the horizon.
It’s difficult, but so is winning a World Series. If the Mets want to do that, they’re going to have to earn their way there. The talent is here. Lindor and Noah Syndergaard aren’t too far away.
This Mets team is good. They’ve already proven they can beat anyone. They now need to prove they can beat anyone anywhere. We have 24 games to see if they can.
For the first time in the second half, and the first time in nearly two months, the New York Mets swept an opponent. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
He had shut down the Nationals for four innings before getting in trouble in the fifth. In that inning, the Nationals had runners at the corners with one out. With the Mets only having a 2-0 lead, Luis Rojas tabbed Seth Lugo.
Lugo, who hasn’t been great inheriting runners this year allowed a sacrifice fly pulling the Nationals to 2-1. The Mets would get than run back and then some on a Jonathan Villar two run homer in the sixth.
JONATHAN VILLAR WITH THE INSURANCE RUNS! THE METS LEAD 4-1 pic.twitter.com/ssJeFmTx5Y
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2021
While May has been great in the second half of the season, he didn’t have it in this save opportunity. He loaded the bases with one out leading Rojas to tab closer of yore Jeurys Familia.
This was one of those frustrating Familia blown saves of yore. First, he had a wild pitch scoring run. Truth be told James McCann should’ve had a better effort blocking that ball.
Familia navigated his way through the inning to keep it tied into the bottom of the seventh. After McNeil grounded out, Pete Alonso ended the game.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 12, 2021
Back when the Mets suffered a brutal loss, Alonso told fans they shouldn’t believe. They should know. Seeing this fame, Alonso gave the Mets reason to know they’re making the playoffs.
The Mets swept the Nationals like they should. Now, they’re in second place with things getting more interesting in the NL East. Now, it’s time to step up and win.
Game Notes: Williams was called up as the 27th man.
As the New York Mets stared down the trade deadline, they needed to address their pitching, and they needed to get a third baseman. Instead of doing that, they instead opted to trade for Javier Baez.
For Baez, the Mets parted with Pete Crow-Armstrong, and the Chicago Cubs threw in Trevor Williams. Considering Baez was going to receive a qualifying offer, the deal was more than fair. In fact, you could argue the Mets got the better end of the deal.
However, while the Mets won the trade, you do have to wonder just how much better Baez makes them. It’s debatable.
For now, Baez stands as a replacement for the injured Francisco Lindor. Baez is not on Lindor’s level defensively, and he has really struggled this year.
So far, Baez has a career worst -1 OAA. DRS tells a different story with a 4 DRS. That’s the second best mark of his career in a full 162 game season. That’s not the defensive wizard he’s purported to be, and it’s probably not a significant upgrade than what Luis Guillorme could provide.
Offensively, Baez is at a 105 wRC+. If he stays at or near this level, that’ll be just the third time over his eight year career he is at least a league average hitter.
The problem with Baez is he’s got a poor mix of not taking walks and swinging and nodding frequently. In fact, he leads the league in strikeouts. Overall, his 36.3 K% is borderline unplayable.
Keep in mind, Baez only exacerbates Mets offensive issues. They’re in the bottom half of the NL in strikeout and walk rates. Baez will serve as a hindrance to both. If anything, Baez moves the Mets further towards an all or nothing offense.
All that said, Baez does make the Mets better. If nothing else, he eventually moves Jeff McNeil to third and J.D. Davis to the bench. That helps the pitching significantly, especially starters like Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker.
There’s also his friendship with Lindor and experience playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. With that, he has a familiarity with Edwin Diaz. Diaz has missed Lindor, and it’s shown. Hopefully, Baez can temporarily fill that void.
Baez also has championship pedigree being a part of the 2016 Chicago Cubs. In his career, he’s had some big series including his being the 2016 NLCS MVP.
On that note, Baez does create a more defined path towards winning the World Series. This is going to have to be a team which wins with its pitching and defense. They have enough offense to get it done.
All told, Baez is an improvement. The problem is he may not be sufficient. He hurts the offense, and he’s no longer the defensive genius we thought him to be.
Now, as evidenced by his 2.8 WAR, he’s a good player. In fact, that mark puts him as the Mets top position player. So yes, the Mets are better. However, it’s really debatable if they’re significantly better or really improved their chances to hold onto the division or win the World Series.
This should’ve been a great day for the New York Mets. The black uniforms were back for limited engagement, Carlos Carrasco was making his season debut, and they added Javier Baez at the trade deadline.
For his part, aside from surrendering a homer to Jonathan India on his first pitch, Carrasco was terrific. Over four innings, he allowed just that one run on three hits and one walk while striking out four.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 31, 2021
Jonathan Villar then hit into an inning ending double play. That was about it for the Mets offense for the night. They wouldn’t get a runner into scoring position until the eighth, and they squandered that opportunity as well.
It was still theoretically a game in the ninth as it was only 3-1. That was until the Reds roughed up Anthony Banda in his second inning of work for three runs making it a 6-1 Reds lead.
In the ninth, in what may prove to be his last Mets at-bat, Brandon Drury hit a pinch hit RBI double. It proved to be nothing more than window dressing in the Mets 6-2 loss.
As if that loss wasn’t bad enough, Nimmo was going to be taken out of the game with a hamstring issue resulting from a dividing catch. Jacob deGrom was shut down again with more forearm inflammation. It should also be noted with the Mets falling to add a reliever the bullpen struggled.
All told, even with the Baez addition, this was just about as bad a day as you can get. The Mets looked bad and might be in real trouble soon.