Heading into this year’s Yankee Stadium portion of the Subway Series, the Mets had a decided advantage in starting pitching. Yesterday, that led to a win with Noah Syndergaard on the mound.
Up until that point, the Mets had a 1-0 lead due to a Michael Conforto second inning homer. That lead completely evaporated in the bottom of the fourth.
It started innocuously enough with a Giancarlo Stanton leadoff single. Then with one out in the inning, Matt den Dekker would make a number of defensive miscues starting with the Didi Gregorious RBI “triple.”
Throughout that fourth, Matz would make his pitches, but his team, specifically den Dekker, wasn’t making a play behind him. All told, it was a four run inning for the Yankees.
With two outs in the inning, Amed Rosario hit an RBI single that not only brought Conforto home, but it allowed Bautista to go to third. It mattered because Robertson threw away a pickoff attempt allowing Bautista to score. The rally would end there as den Dekker struck out.
The Mets would quickly see the 4-3 deficit grow and grow.
It’s hard to say Matz pitched well considering he surrendered five runs, all earned, but he did. The defense was that poor.
In the ninth, it seemed like Aroldis Chapman was in to pitch his inning and let everyone get home before the rain came later tonight. The issue with Chapman was he couldn’t get an out.
Now, it should be noted Asdrubal Cabrera should have been due up. The problem was he was ejected in the fifth after getting tossed arguing balls and strikes. When that happened, he joined hitting coach Pat Roessler who was tossed in the third for the same issue.
Cabrera was replaced in the lineup by Devin Mesoraco (as a DH). He’d face Chasen Shreve who came on for Chapman, get the most important at-bat of the game, and he’d hit into a rally killing 4-6-3 double play.
With that, the Mets did just enough to lose. Just enough.
Game Notes: Jeurys Familia was finally traded to the Athletics. Yoenis Cespedes was unavailable as he was too sore to play. As it turns out, he also needs surgery to remove calcifications in both heels. The recovery time is approximately 10 months.
Here’s how pointless this 7-3 game was – Keith Hernandez was reading passages from the Mets media guide about the Mets Hall of Famers.
The best thing from this game was Amed Rosario going 3-4 with two runs, two triples, and an RBI. What’s shocking is both triples were to left.
Tyler Bashlor allowed just one run on three hits in 2.1 innings.
P.J. Conlon pitched two scoreless while striking out three.
Dominic Smith singled in his only at-bat.
Perhaps most important, Wilmer Flores made an impressive play in the field.
It was a terrific play in a lost game in a lost season. Flores still cares. Be very careful before you trade him.
Game Notes: Mets are 0-13-2 in their last 15 series.
Whenever a team plays a game, there are issues which are going to emerge, and it is likely going to be a topic of conversation in the hours leading up to the next game. When there is a doubleheader, there is so much more to discuss that some things get lost in the weeds, or in some instances, it allows teams to bury stories.
Yesterday, before the Mets played the first game of the doubleheader against the Phillies, it was announced Todd Frazier was going to go on the disabled list, and to replace him on the roster the Mets were going to recall Ty Kelly. The end result of this would be Jose Reyes taking over in the interim as the everyday third baseman.
Now, the Mets entered the doubleheader 16 games under .500, and the team decided to go with their 35 year old albatross instead of giving a young kid an opportunity. That means Dominic Smith is still a 23 year old sitting on the bench not getting at-bats. It also means Jeff McNeil, a player who has arguably been the best hitter in all of the minor leagues this season, remains in Triple-A.
The Mets are making this option despite Reyes clearly showing he’s incapable of handling a bench spot, and as a result, is really no part of the Mets future. Worse yet, when he does play, he plays terribly. On the season, Reyes has a -1.2 WAR. He can’t hit with a a .168/.238/.235 batting line (32 wRC+), and he can’t field with a negative DRS at third and short.
In essence, the Mets have an old player who can’t hit and field taking away at-bats from young players in a seaosn where the Mets are selling at the trade deadline.
The joke continues with the Mets claiming McNeil is only a second baseman. In his minor league career, McNeil has played 209 games at second base and 148 games at third. Even if you as a franchise believe he’s only a second baseman, why can’t you temporarily shift Asdrubal Cabrera to third?
Cabrera is a much better third baseman defensively than he is a second baseman. In fact, Cabrera is an MLB worst -16 DRS at second base. Why can’t the Mets move him to third to remind teams of a versatility, to keep him healthy, and to give McNeil and/or Smith an opportunity?
When it comes to the Mets, this is by far the most pressing issue in what has become a nightmare of a season.
However, that’s not what we are talking about today. We are not because SNY helped changed the narrative.
In the eighth inning in the second game of the doubleheader, Aaron Nola‘s spot was due up, and Gabe Kapler appeared as if he was going to use Odubel Herrera as his pinch hitter. Before Herrera was announced as the pinch hitter, Mickey Callaway had sprung from the dugout out, and he brought in Jerry Blevins.
Initially, this looked like a gaffe from Callaway because it allowed Kapler to keep Herrera on his bench while bringing in the right-handed hitting Jesmuel Valentin to pinch hit instead.
In the postgame, Callaway explained this was not in fact a gaffe. Instead, he opined he hoped Kapler would make the decision to pinch hit Valentin instead of Herrera.
In defending his position, Callaway noted how entering the game Valentin was a .190 hitter whereas Herrera was hitting well against left-handed pitching with a .804 OPS.
Ancedotally, while it is true Herrera is just 1-12 against Blevins, it should be noted only one of those 12 at-bats were this season. That’s an important note because this year, Blevins has really struggled with left-handed hitters allowing them to hit .318/.392/.523 off of him. It is important to note right-handed batter are hitting .150/.292/.250 off of Blevins this year.
Essentially, Callaway made the right move here. He forced Kapler into the match-up he wanted late in the game.
However, instead of commending him for using data to make an informed and well reasoned decision and for his making moves to force the other manager into a decision where a .190 hitter stepped up to the plate, SNY had commentator after commentator after commentator who ripped Callaway for the decision.
With each commentator following the narrative, the Mets decision to give Reyes more playing time over Smith and McNeil became an even distant memory. In essence, the Mets utilized their network to help shift the narrative from “How can you play Reyes and not give McNeil a chance!” to “Callaway is over-matched and doesn’t know what he’s doing!”
It’s infuriating, and it’s going to become increasingly infuriating as people focus on Callaway instead of what the real issue is.
Really, as the end of the day the biggest issue was the Mets insistence on playing a 35 year old who can’t hit or field instead of giving a young player a chance. Anything else is just a distraction and a perpetuated false narrative.
Well, it was a topsy-turvy doubleheader with the Mete earning a split. With a lot to digest, instead of paragraph form, it might be easier to make some quick points:
- This was a Zack Wheeler start from earlier this season with him not making it through the fifth.
- Seth Lugo continues to both confound and be a weapon by pitching 2.2 scoreless in relief.
- Asdrubal Cabrera must really want to go to a contender because he was 2-4 with a double, homer, and two RBI.
- With Todd Frazier landing on the DL, Jose Reyes started both games, and according to Mickey Callaway, Reyes will get the bulk of the playing time.
- The Mets will continue to keep Dominic Smith languishing on the bench and refuse to call up Jeff McNeil, who the team only views as a 2B now.
- Pinch hitting for Tim Peterson in the 10th, Wilmer Flores hit a walk-off home run. He’s now the Mets all-time leader in walk off RBI (10).
- Mets won the first game 4-3 in 10 innings.
- Corey Oswalt looked much improved in the second game of the doubleheader starting things off with four perfect innings.
- In the fifth, Oswalt walked three batters. The first two led off the inning. The third was intentional so Oswalt could face Aaron Nola, who entered the game as a .067 hitter. He would hit a bases clearing double.
- Nola was dominant allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out 10 over 7.0 innings.
- Entering the ninth inning, there were two hits total in the game, and yet, the Phillies lead 3-1.
- Callaway opted to bring in Jerry Blevins and force Gabe Kapler‘s hand. Kapler opted to go with that .190 hitter. over Odubel Herrera. Kapler went with Jesmuel Valdez who struck out.
- Flores ninth inning double to pull the Mets to within 3-1. Mets would lose by this score.
- There was a pop up with Amed Rosario calling for it. Instead, Reyes took it from him, and he walked away right as Rosario looked miffed.
- Mets lost the second game 3-1.
Admittedly, this is beating a dead horse, a horse deader than Jose Reyes‘ ability to contribute to a Major League team, but if you are going to complain about something, you need to present solutions. After all, what is the good in saying Reyes should be released if you are not prepared to suggest improvements?
As much as I like to joke about it, no, David Wright would not be an improvement over Reyes right now, even if the argument could sadly be made. Jokes aside, there are plenty of better options available to the Mets over what Reyes is giving the team right now and in the future:
MLB Stats: .400/.400/.500, 2B, RBI
MiLB Stats: .300/.394/.433, 7 2B, 3B, HR, 15 RBI, 2 SB, CS
The main thing Guillorme brings to the table is great middle infield defense. Even if his ability to drive the ball will remind you of Luis Castillo, he does have the ability to give you a good at-bat and get on base. At a minimum, since getting called-up, he has show he is not over-matched, and he is ready right now to contribute as a utility player for the Mets right now.
MiLB Stats: .274/.350/.500, 7 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR, 24 RBI, SB
The immediate reaction whenever Kelly is mentioned is he is a Four-A player because he has a MLB career stat line of .211/.297/.340. Even if you’re right, it bears mentioning this would be a huge upgrade over Reyes’ current stats. More than that, Kelly is a versatile player and switch hitter who can play all four infield positions and can handle both corner outfield spots. And for the knocks against him, he is .255/.351/.340 against left-handed pitching.
MLB Stats: .154/.214/.179, 2B, RBI
MiLB Stats: .257/.333/371, 4 2B, 6 RBI
Nido would mean carrying three catchers and pressing Wilmer Flores to become a backup at short as well. Given Reyes’ -15 DRS at short last year, Flores is not a dropoff defensively. Nido’s presence on the roster would accomplish a few things. First, you can give Noah Syndergaard his own personal catcher, which may not be a bad thing given the challenges catching Syndergaard possesses. Second, having Nido would free up both Devin Mesoraco and Kevin Plawecki for more pinch hitting attempts. Third, Nido would allow the Mets to take it easier on Mesoraco, who has an extensive injury history, and it permits the team to not over rely on Plawecki, who is still not quite established as a major leaguer. However, you would ideally keep Nido in the minors once Plawecki returns to give him the regular at-bats he needs to improve offensively.
MiLB Stats: .294/.342/.468, 11 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, SB, CS
After a lost season last year, Cecchini worked on a number of things in the offseason, and he is back to being the player he was just two years ago. However, this is more on the long-term view as Cecchini has not played since May 9th when he fouled a ball off his foot.
MiLB Stats: .328/.403/.715, 11 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 31 RBI, SB
For all the clamoring over Peter Alonso, many are overlooking his teammate McNeil, who has recently surpassed Alonso in doubles, homers, SLG, and OPS. The 26 year old is healthy after a few injury riddled seasons, and he’s flat out raking. With him mashing right-handed pitching, he would be a good platoon partner for Wilmer Flores in Todd Frazier‘s absence. However, ideally, you’d like to keep him in Double-A longer, and you would want to see him in Triple-A before rushing him to the majors, especially when there are more than sufficient options ahead of him.
In complete fairness, Phillip Evans, who has not gotten a hit in seven at-bats and was not great in Las Vegas was not mentioned. Also not mentioned is T.J. Rivera because no one can be quite sure when he will be ready to return to playing after his Tommy John surgery. Really, the Mets need Rivera to return as soon as he can because he would be the best possible internal addition to the Mets bench.
Given everything that has happened since Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, you can hardly blame Matt Harvey for refusing a minor league assignment and for the Mets designating him for assignment. Ultimately, this is something which may prove beneficial to all parties involved.
For Harvey, he has a lot of work ahead of him. Unfortunately, the same goes for the Mets, who for reasons unbeknownst to anyone, stopped their roster alterations at Harvey.
There is no doubt Harvey was under-performing, but at the time of the Mets decision he was the last guy in the bullpen mopping up games like the 6-0 mess left for him by Jason Vargas. Rarely is the last guy in your bullpen the real issue with your team, and the Mets are not one of those exceptions.
One of the main issues with this time right now is the lineup. With injuries, slumps, and flat out benching more talented players, the team needs to make changes there desperately.
One of the changes that needs to be made is to get Brandon Nimmo into the lineup everyday. At the moment, Nimmo is hitting .256/.448/.442 with a 17.2% walk rate. By OPS+ and wRC+, he is the second best hitter in the Mets lineup. There is no justifiable reason to keep him as the fourth outfielder.
However, he is because the Mets are trying to make Adrian Gonzalez happen. Well, if you go by his hitting .231/.311/.372 with a -0.4 WAR, it’s not happening, and it’s not going to happen. Game-in and game-out, he’s showing why the Dodgers took on Matt Kemp to get rid of him and why the Braves were happy to pay him $21.8 million to go away.
Really, there is no reason why the Mets continue to trot him out there when they can put the hobbled Jay Bruce at first base.
Whether it is the plantar fascitiis or something else, Bruce has struggled this year and playing the outfield is doing him no favors. Really, he and the team is best served by moving Bruce to first and allowing more athletic players like Nimmo and Juan Lagares play out there.
Again, the only thing standing in the way of the Mets optimizing both their defensive alignment and their lineup is a 35 year old with a bad back who already has a -0.4 WAR.
Speaking of players in their mid 30s, well past their prime, and standing in the way of more talented players, the Mets need to do something about Jose Reyes.
So far this season, Reyes is hitting .139/.184/.222. To put that in perspective, the recently designated for assignment Matt Harvey was batting .286/.286/.286. Put another way, Reyes is hitting like a pitcher . . . or worse.
That’s except when he’s coming off the bench. When he’s pinch hitting, he’s not hitting at all going 0-9 with three strike outs. When he substitutes into games, he’s 0-4.
Really, what’s the point of having a bench player who can’t hit when he comes off the bench?
Remember this was the same Reyes who posted a -0.6 WAR last year and his -26 DRS was the worst among Major League infielders. There is really not hope there’s any upside.
Looking at Las Vegas, Gavin Cecchini is hitting .313/.359/.500 while mostly playing the middle infield with a game at short.
After a slow start, Luis Guillorme is in the midst of an eight game hitting streak that has seen him go 13-28 with three doubles and seven RBI. After starting the year hitting .211/.338/.281, he’s not hitting .294/.394/.376.
In addition to Cecchini or Guillorme, the Mets could opt to go with Phillip Evans, who won a bench job out of Spring Training or Ty Kelly, who is once again dominating in Las Vegas hitting .300/.364/.600 with four doubles, four triples, six homers, and 21 RBI.
Even if you didn’t like the group as a collective, you’d be hard pressed to present an argument where they would not be able to get at least one hit while coming off of the bench.
Now, are Gonzalez and Reyes the only two problems? Far from it. The catching situation is still a mess, the bullpen is regressing, and every starter not named Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard has been completely unreliable.
That said, Gonzalez and Reyes are blocking more talented players who promise to be more productive than what we have seen from both players not just this year, but stretching back to last year. If the Mets are truly interested in becoming a better team, these two need to join Harvey in looking for another team.
On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:
Nori Aoki – He looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.
Jerry Blevins – Throughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.
Chasen Bradford – With his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.
Jay Bruce – He learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.
Asdrubal Cabrera – As 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 Callahan – One 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 Cecchini – He 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 Cespedes – With 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 deGrom – With 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.
Phillip Evans – After 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 Familia – Blood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.
Wilmer Flores – He fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.
Sean Gilmartin – With 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 Goeddel – No 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 Granderson – He had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.
Robert Gsellman – He has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.
Matt Harvey – Between 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 Lagares – With all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.
Steven Matz – With 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 McGowan – He will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.
Tommy Milone – He 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 Nido – Even 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 Nimmo – No one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.
Tyler Pill – In 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 Ramirez – Somehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.
AJ Ramos – To him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.
Addison Reed – He was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.
Jose Reyes – The Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.
Matt Reynolds – He 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 Rhame – He’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 Rivera – After 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.
Hansel Robles – In his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.
Amed Rosario – He 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 Salas – Despite 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 Sewald – As 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 Smith – He 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 Smoker – After 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 Syndergaard – Mr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.
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 Wilk – Because 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 Wheeler – Instead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.
David Wright – Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.
Terry Collins – At 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 Warthen – He found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.
Sandy Alderson – Collins 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 Fans – Well, 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.
With the Binghamton Rumble Ponies season over, the New York Mets have called up top catching prospect Tomas Nido to serve as the team’s third catcher for the final few weeks of the season. Once he arrived in the clubhouse, he was issued the number 77.
Now, it’s possible Nido selected the number himself as “his” number 7 was unavailable because it’s already being worn by Jose Reyes. However, the assignment of the number follows an odd pattern where the Mets typically have used number assignments to distinguish between top prospects and others.
This is unlike former Mets first round pick Brandon Nimmo. Like Nido, he wore 7 in the minors. When Nimmo was called up last year, Travis d’Arnaud wore the number. Unlike, Nido or Evans, he didn’t get a number in the 70s. Instead, he was assigned 9.
Robert Gsellman wore 24, a number mostly out of circulation to honor Willie Mays. The pitcher rushed to the majors was given 65. Chris Flexen had a similar rise this year. His 33 in St. Lucie wasn’t available due to Matt Harvey and his Binghamton 46 was worn by Chasen Bradford. Flexen was given 65.
By the way Flexen was given that number because his 29 was already worn by Tommy Milone.
Now, this isn’t to say Sewald should wear 17, or that he didn’t select 51. Same goes for players like Bradford whose preferred number is being worn by a Major Leaguer.
However, again, there is a real difference between saying no to 13 and assigning the number 72. It isn’t something the team did to Nimmo, but then again, he’s a well regarded prospect.
The really own exception to this is Travis Taijeron and his switch from 18 to 28.
And Taijeron really is an anomaly unless you believe T.J. Rivera (#3) and Ty Kelly (#11) really wanted to wear 54 and 56 because Curtis Granderson and third base coach Tim Teufel already had their uniform numbers. Really, it’s not likely.
No, the truth of the matter is the Mets are really only inclined to allow a prospect to pick their own number upon a call up to the majors unless they’ve already been deemed a top prospect.
Look, we know Rosario is a better prospect than Rivera ever was. Likely, Rosario will be a much better player. Still, that does not mean Rosario gets to pick a number, but Rivera shouldn’t. They’re both New York Mets. They should be treated as such.
Overall, this is far from the biggest issue with this team, but it is an issue nevertheless. It shows why certain players get chance after chance after chance while those that produce have to continue to reprove themselves. The reason is because the Mets seek confirmation bias rather than results.
Want to know which players are which? Just look at the uniform numbers.
Last night, the Yankees brought on Aroldis Chapman to close out a Yankees three run lead. After Wilmer Flores struck out to begin the inning, Dominic Smith strode up to the plate in what would be the rookie’s biggest test in his brief major league career. Seeing how he hit an opposite field homer earlier in the game, and Rafael Devers hit a huge home run against Chapman in Chapman’s last save attempt, this was promising to be a very interesting match-up.
This is not the first time we have seen this play with Collins. During Michael Conforto‘s first two years with the Mets, Collins did not let his young left-handed hitter face left-handed pitching. Instead, he would bat Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lagares, Justin Ruggiano, Ty Kelly, or really any warm body on the bench to prevent Conforto from facing a left-handed pitcher.
The end result of Collins’ refusal to play Conforto against left-handed pitching was Conforto actually struggling against left-handed pitching. Over his first two big league seasons, Conforto hit .129/.191/.145 with just one extra-base hit, a double, in the 68 at-bats he did get against left-handed pitching.
However, there was no reason to sit Conforto against left-handed pitching. His hitting coach, Kevin Long, found the notion that Conforto can’t hit left-handed pitching absurd. Conforto hit left-handed pitching in both his collegiate and brief minor league career. Still, despite Conforto’s ability to hit left-handed pitching everywhere else, Collins decided to sit him against left-handed pitching.
When pressed on it, Collins said, “We’re in a situation where we’re trying to win games. This is not a time to develop players.” (Barbara Barker, Newsday).
Assuming Collins is correct that you shirk the responsibility of developing young players because you have designs on winning a World Series, why is he now repeating the same tactics with Smith?
Currently, the Mets are 10 games under .500. The team has to win 62% of their remaining games just to get to .500. The team has already traded away Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, and Neil Walker. If an opportunity presents itself, Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, and Rene Rivera will find new homes before the end of the month. Put more succinctly, this team is not in a position where they are trying to win games – this is a time to develop players.
Pinch hitting for Smith the very first opportunity he gets to face a left-handed pitcher in the majors does nothing to accomplish that goal.
Overall, unless Collins is facing some delusions of grandeur, there is no reason to believe the Mets are winning anything in 2017. Smith is ticketed to be the Mets starting first baseman in 2018. To that end, the rest of the regular season should be dedicated to helping him best prepare for the 2018 season. Sitting him against left-handed pitching only hinders his development.
Maybe, just maybe Collins was never truly concerned with player development. Maybe in his mind young left-handed batters are just incapable of hitting left-handed pitching. It is likely the reason why he previously sat Conforto against left-handed pitching, and it is the reason why he’s doing it with Smith now.
It’s poor managing, and it has had a tangible effect on player development. Collins might have had his excuse with Conforto, but he doesn’t have that excuse with Smith now. If Collins shields Smith from a left-handed pitcher just one more time, the Mets are going to have to find someone else to manage. Simply put, you cannot permit Collins to hinder Smith’s development to win some meaningless games.
The reclamation of Rafael Montero has taken an interesting turn. Montero was just a losing pitcher in a game, and he wasn’t the reason why the Mets lost the game. Instead of him letting the team down, the team let him down.
It all happened in the seventh inning. After two singles and a Maikel Franco double, the Phillies were up 2-0 with no outs in the inning. Ty Kelly sacrificed him over, and that’s where things went awry.
The Mets brought the infield in, and Andrew Knapp hit a sharp groundball to the right side. Asdrubal Cabrera couldn’t get to it. He got a glove on it, but he couldn’t field it as it trickled into right field giving the Phillies a 3-0 lead.
Montero threw a pitch in the dirt. Rather than getting down and trying to block it, he committed the faux pas of just trying to backhand it. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Rivera lost complete sight of it thereby allowing Knapp to score from second giving the Phillies a 4-0 lead.
While it was only the second inning, the lead was daunting. Over seven innings, Pivetta and his 5.40 ERA kept the Mets to one hit – a T.J. Rivera fifth inning solo home run.
Even when the Mets drew a walk, they’d hit into a double play. In a sign of what type of game this was, Lucas Duda hit into a bizarre double play. He hit a shallow fly ball to center, and Aaron Altherr just juggled it. He eventually grabbed it before he was able to double off a confused Bruce.
Things fell apart in the top of the eighth as Rivera’s poor play reared its ugly head again.
With two on and no out, pinch hitter Brock Stassi singled to center, and Franco raced home. Brandon Nimmo made a good strong one hop throw home that had Franco by a good margin. Rivera missed the ball, which not only allowed the run to score, but also allowed the runners to move up a base.
With Daniel Nava‘s subsequent two RBI single off Chasen Bradford pushed the Phillies lead to 7-1. While the Mets made some noise in the bottom of the ninth, they would’ve score a run.
It didn’t matter. The game fell apart. The one piece of good news was it wasn’t his fault. He pitched well and settled down. Overall, his final line was 6.1 innings, eight hits, four runs, one run, one earned, two walks, and six strikeouts.
If this is now what qualifies as a poor start from him, there is reason to believe in Montero.
Whether you believe in this team or not, is up for debate. We’ll know more as the Mets take on the Nationals for a three game set.
Game Notes: Curtis Granderson missed the game with a hip issue that prevented him from being able to swing the bat.