Last night, the score was tied 2-2 entering the 10th inning. With the heavy bullpen use of his key relievers, Terry Collins was certainly justified in pulling Addison Reed after one inning. However, for some reason, Collins decided the move that best helped the Mets win that game last night was to bring in Rafael Montero. It was the latest incident in what has been a bizarre fascination with him.
There was a time back in 2014 where Montero was regarded as the Mets best pitching prospect. In fact, he was better regarded than Jacob deGrom. Believe it or not, the belief was justifiable. Back then, Montero was a three pitch pitcher that had a fastball he could get into the mid 90s. With that, he had a pretty good change-up and slider. In fact, he still does. However, what set Montero apart back then was he had exceptional control. That control has escaped him, and as a result, he’s not even a shadow of the highly touted prospect.
During his time with the Mets, we have seen Montero get chance after chance after chance. It’s a mixture of his talent, injuries, and just pure stubbornness to move on from him. Last season, Montero was the first player cut from Major League camp in Spring Training. He struggled so much in Triple-A, he was actually demoted to Double-A. However, due to the Mets pitching staff becoming a M*A*S*H* unit, he was called up to the majors. He rewarded their faith by pitching to an 8.05 ERA and a 2.053 WHIP in nine appearances, and somehow, he probably wasn’t even that good.
After that season, he is still somehow with the organization. In the offseason, the Mets had to make multiple 40 man moves to accommodate free agent signings. The Mets would DFA Ty Kelly. In separate deals, they traded both Logan Verrett and Gabriel Ynoa for cash. Each one of these players has either had some measure of major league success, had some value to the team, or had some level of promise.
It’s just not the Mets front office. It’s also Collins. Last night, he had a well rested Sean Gilmartin, and instead he went with Montero. Keep in mind, Gilmartin has had success with the Mets as a long reliever. In 2015, Gilmartin made 50 appearances going 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.186 WHIP. That season is better than anything Montero has ever done in the majors.
Arguably, Gilmartin on his worst day is better than what you can expect from Montero. Montero entered the game and did what you expected him to do . . . he lost it. In 0.1 innings, he allowed three hits and four runs. The only out he recorded was on a sacrifice fly hit to the right field wall.
Including last night’s game, Montero has made 30 appearances and 12 starts going 1-7 with a 5.51 ERA and a 1.800 WHIP. On the season, Montero is 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA and a 3.600 WHIP. His BB/9 is an almost impossibly high 10 .8. It is all part of Montero not being the same pitcher the MEts thought he was. It continues the trens of Montero getting worse each and every season.
The Mets shouldn’t even wait for Jeurys Familia to be available on Thursday to send Montero to Triple-A. Send him on the first plane back. Bring up Paul Sewald for a day if you want an extra bullpen arm. If you want to lengthen what is a short bench, call up Matt Reynolds, which as an aside, may not be a bad move considering the poor defensive options the Mets have at third base. Seriously, the Mets should do anything . . . literally anything because anything is better than having to see Montero pitch in another game.
After toiling away away in the minor leagues for seven years, and after three teams had decided to move on from him, Ty Kelly found himself as a member of the Las Vegas 51s last year. At 27, it was becoming harder and harder to believe that Kelly was ever going to find that light at the end of the tunnel.
Still, he was undeterred. He just went out there and did all he could do to give the Mets no other choice but to call him up to the majors. He jumped right out of the gate hitting .386/.500/.477 in April. He was even better in May hitting .394/.463/.592. Kelly did this while also playing all eight defensive positions. Finally, due to a number of injuries, and his hot hitting, on May 24th, Kelly got the call up to the majors.
Unfortunately, Kelly struggled. Right off the bat, he was 0-4 with three strikeouts in his first ever game. During that first call-up, Kelly played in nine games only hitting .182/.250/.318. With that, call-up it seemed as if his first ever career home run might just be the lone highlight of his career:
His second call-up in June didn’t go much better with him going 0-5 in his five pinch hitting appearances. With that Kelly found himself in a familiar position. He was back in the minor leagues just waiting for his chance to get called back up to the major leauges. In some sense, this time it had to be all the more frustrating because he finally got his chance, and he struggled. He got his chance, and he was right back to square one. Fortunately for Kelly, he got one more chance, and he took advantage of it.
In August, Kelly was a surprise call-up due to his struggles, and he was an even bigger surprise as the starting left fielder. This time, Kelly took full advantage of the opportunity going 2-4 with two runs and a walk. During this stint, he proved he could hit at the major league level. He showed he can be a versatile player. Mostly, Kelly established there was a spot for him in the major leagues. This is no small feat for anyone, let alone anyone who waited over seven years for this chance.
In total, Kelly finished his first season in the major leagues hitting a very respectable .241/.352/.345 with a double, triple, home run, and seven RBI in 39 games. He was used in a myriad of roles playing first, second, third, and all three outfield positions. He was used as a pinch hitter and a pinch runner. He proved himself to be a smart baseball player. He earned himself a spot on the Mets Wild Card Game roster. In fact, Kelly should pinch hit for Addison Reed in the eighth inning, and he would get the one out single. His hit was only one of the four hits the Mets collected that day.
Kelly showed enough during his stint with the Mets to be named to the Team Israel roster in the World Baseball Classic. He was the team’s third baseman, and the number two hitter in a lineup that shocked the World by making it into the second round.
His play last season was enough to get him named to the Mets Opening Day roster, but it was not enough for him to stick. With both Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman both having short outings back-to-back, the Mets needed to clear space on the 40 man roster to bring up another pitcher. It was a numbers game, and Kelly was the one the Mets gambled on keeping. Ironically, the move was made so Paul Sewald could finally get his shot after waiting five years in the minor leagues.
It should come as no surprise that a team was interested in a player like Kelly. The Blue Jays made room on their roster for a player squeezed out by the Mets. Oddly enough, Kelly is now with a team that once passed over him. Once again, Kelly gets to prove everyone wrong and show both the Blue Jays and all of Major League Baseball that he belongs in the majors. Based upon last year, I wouldn’t bet against him.
And when he finally does get called back up to the majors, and we know he will, all Mets fans should wish him the best of luck. I know I will.
This year marks the seventh year Terry Collins has been the Mets manager. In those seven years, he has left a wake of horrible decisions and the careers of some players, namely Scott Rice and Jim Henderson.
Collins seems to be in rare form in what he had previously said was going to be his last before retirement. Already this year, he has made some poor and dangerous decisions.
Now, some like starting Jay Bruce over Michael Conforto is an organizational decision. Some decisions are designed to give players a mental and physical day of rest, and they should not be over-analyzed. However, many others, as you’ll see below, fall under the purview of Collins poor managing:
Opening Day – 4/3
Mets 6 – Braves 0
Collins sets out a lineup that makes little sense including batting his second worse OBP guy in Jose Reyes lead-off. He also made a strategical blunder hitting Bruce ahead of Lucas Duda. The issues there are more detailed here.
After Noah Syndergaard left the game with a blister, Collins turned to fifth starter Robert Gsellman for an inning in a 6-0 blowout instead of Rafael Montero, who could have benefited from a pressure free outing to build his confidence.
Braves 3 – Mets 1
It’s not Collins’ fault the bullpen blew the lead, and he had to rip through his pen in an extra inning game. However, going to Montero over Josh Smoker was a poor decision. Smoker is just a one inning pitcher. He can’t be the last guy up. Also, he’s better than Montero, and as such, he shouldn’t pitched first.
Also, in extras, Collins turned to Ty Kelly over T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores with two outs and the winning run on second. In 2016, Kelly hit .179 off right-handed pitching to Flores’ .232 and Rivera’s .386. Another factor is with Conforto already having pinch hit, Kelly was the last OF on the bench.
Mets 6 – Braves 2
Marlins 7 – Mets 2
You could argue Collins should’ve lifted Zack Wheeler before the fourth as he labored in ever inning except the first, but focusing too much on this may be picking nits at this point. What was really peculiar was it was obvious the Mets were going to need someone to soak up innings with Wheeler’s short outing. Last year, Smoker proved he is not a multiple inning reliever. Despite that being the case, Collins turned to Smoker over Montero or Hansel Robles, who are two pitchers that can go deep in relief. These are the types of decisions that exhaust bullpens.
Marlins 8 – Mets 1
With Gsellman going five, Collins had to go deeper in the pen that he would’ve liked. He went too deep when he brought in Montero. The previous day Montero threw 35 pitches over 2.2 innings. On Wednesday, Montero threw 35 pitches over 1.2 innings. That’s 70 pitches over 4.2 innings without much rest. Montero struggled leading Collins to bring in Fernando Salas who has now appeared in four of the Mets five games himself.
Mets 5 – Marlins 2
Mets 4 – Phillies 3
In the top of the seventh with the score tied at two, Collins put Conforto in the on deck circle, and the Phillies countered by having Joely Rodriguez warm-up. By Collins tipping his hand a bit, he was forced to make the choice of Conforto against the left-handed pitcher or to go with one of his right-handed bench options to pinch hit for Jacob deGrom.
Now, there is a lot of small sample size bias, but Collins options where Conforto (.129/.191/.145 vs. LHP), Flores (.252/.286/.372 vs. RHP), and Rivera (.386/.397/.600 vs. RHP). Again, there are small sample sizes, but based upon the information you would say your best bet is Rivera against Jerad Eickhoff. Instead, Collins went with Flores, who flew out to end the inning and the rally.
One other small note. Based upon the relative production of the Mets players, putting Bruce in the clean-up spot was a defensible and probably the smart move. It’s more than just production, Bruce just looks better at the plate than anyone in the lineup right now. However, according to Collins, Bruce was moved up in the lineup because he was hot. Of course, Bruce wasn’t as he was in the midst of a 2-14 streak.
It’s a problem when the manager is making a move predicated on a faulty premise. It does not matter if it was the right move or it worked out. The problem is the reasoning behind it was flawed.
Mets 14 – Phillies 4
Mets 5 – Phillies 4
To be fair, the following isn’t necessarily a critique of Collins. It really is a critique of most baseball managers. With the Mets up 5-0, and Zack Wheeler loading the bases, Collins summoned Hansel Robles to the mound. While Gary and Ron Darling were harping on it being his third consecutive game, he had only pitched two innings and threw just 20 pitches in that stretch. It’s really difficult to infer Robles was tired.
Rather, the issue is why don’t you use Fernando Salas in that spot? He’s well rested, and he’s arguably your second best reliever right now. This really was the biggest out of the game. The Mets get the out here, and they go to the seventh up 5-0. From there, you can go with some of your lesser arms to close out the game.
Instead, Collins went with his best reliever that wasn’t his 7th, 8th, or 9th inning guy. This is what every manager does in this spot, so this is not unique to Collins. Another point to be made here is Collins going to Robles is justifiable as Robles is a good relief pitcher, and he has bailed the Mets out of similar situations in the past. Again, this is more of a critique of major league managers as a whole than just Collins.
Mets 9 – Marlins 8 (16)
Well, this was a long game leaving Collins to make a lot of curious moves that helped lead to this being a 16 inning game that exhausted the Mets bullpen.
After four innings, Collins lifted T.J. Rivera from the game for no reason at all. There were no injury issues or defensive problems. This move indirectly led to Rene Rivera playing first base in extra innings and Jacob deGrom having to make a pinch hitting appearance.
In the fifth, despite Gsellman not having anything, Collins pushed him, and the results were terrible. Collins then turned to his worst reliever in Josh Edgin to help Gsellman get out of the jam. The end result was the Marlins not only erasing a three run deficit, but also taking an 8-7 lead.
The Mets tied it and the game went 16 innings. Over the course of those innings, the bullpen was absolutely exhausted which will have far reaching implications in the short and long term.
Marlins 3 – Mets 2
To be fair, after a 16 inning game, the Mets did not have a lot of options available in the bullpen. However, it is puzzling why Collins would go with Edgin, who has struggled most of the season, over a fully rested Sean Gilmartin who was brought up for the sole purpose of helping the bullpen. Putting Edgin in for two innings essentially conceded the game. That’s effectively what happened.
Marlins 5 – Mets 4
After ONE decent game this season, Collins just rushed ahead and put Reyes back in the lead-off spot. In response, Reyes was 0-3 with a walk. It didn’t prevent the Mets from taking a lead, but again, it shows Collins’ poor though process.
In the eighth, the Mets had Jerry Blevins warming in bullpen when Christian Yelich walked to the plate. Now, you can argue that Salas is the eighth inning reliever until Jeurys Familia returns, and this is his spot. However, when you have Blevins warming up, you have him pitch to the left-handed batter in key situtations. Instead, Salas allowed a game tying home run followed by a go-ahead home run to Giancarlo Stanton.
Marlins 4 – Mets 2
Phillies 6 – Mets 2 (10)
For most of the game, it appeared as if Collins was managing a pretty good game. The most egregious error was batting d’Arnaud behind Reyes, who can’t hit right now, and Walker, who can’t hit as a left-handed batter right now. However, you can excuse that when you consider Collins has to manage a clubhouse and respect veterans.
I’d go so far as to argue Collins deftly managed the bullpen last night. That was until the 10th inning. With a fully rested Sean Gilmartin and a Montero who seemingly gets worse with each and every outing, you simply cannot go to Montero in that spot. It is essentially waiving a white flag. And you know what, that’s exactly what Collins did.
The Phillies quickly had runners on first and second because, well, Montero was pitching. You’re in the 10th inning, and the Mets have no hit at all in the game, you absolutely have to bring your infield in. For some reason, Collins didn’t. It would up not mattering because Montero allowed a sacrifice to the deepest part of right field, but still, how do you not bring your infield in in that spot? It’s an egregious error perhaps more egregious than the Reyes one that lead to the game going into extra innings.
Mets 5 – Phillies 4
You could argue that Reyes hitting seventh in front of d’Arnaud is a pressing issue, or his presence in the lineup might be one as well. However, you have to consider Collins has to manage personalities in that clubhouse, and he has to at least consider the impact batting Reyes eighth may have. Right now, this is an area where Collins should get some latitude.
Another thing to note, keeping Gsellman in to bunt and pitch to the first batter in the eighth was a defensible move. The bench was short with Duda and d’Arnaud coming out of the game due to injury. Also, the bullpen has been overworked. Even saving them from having to get one batter is a help right now.
Accordingly, there were no issues with last night’s game.
Phillies 6 – Mets 4
People want to harp on Familia throwing 30 pitches in the ninth, but the bullpen has been exhausted, and the Mets really didn’t give him work in the minors. There were no issues with this game.
Nationals 4 – Mets 3 (11)
Collins was extremely limited because of the injuries, and yet, he still managed to work a way around that excuse. In the ninth, Collins used Gsellman to pinch run for Rene Rivera. With Lagares in the game already due to the Cespedes’ injury, Collins had to go to his pitchers for pinch running and pinch hitting opportunities, so this was certainly understandable. What happened after wasn’t.
First and foremost, Collins asked T.J. Rivera to lay down a bunt. Now, analytical people would say this was the wrong move because the sacrifice bunt in that situation actually decreases the chances of your scoring. They’re right, but there’s more to that. Behind Rivera is the pitcher’s spot meaning you are going to have to have one of your players too injured to start the game enter as a pinch hitter. That player was Cabrera.
Cabrera worked out a walk. Once his foot touched second, Kevin Plawecki was already coming into the game as a pinch runner. Why Collins just didn’t put Plawecki, the more experienced base runner, in for Rivera is certainly questionable. There’s another matter to consider. Plawecki was the last player on the bench who could play the field. This meant that if the Mets didn’t score here, the pitcher’s spot in the order was going to come up sooner. This meant that d’Arnaud had to pinch hit in the bottom of the 11th.
It should be noted d’Arnaud was so injured he couldn’t start the game. It should also be noted when the game was tied in the seventh, Collins had turned to Wheeler to pinch hit. There’s not congruent thought that can come from all of this.
Nationals 3 – Mets 1
Collins playing Cabrera in this game was a poor decision. Cabrera was so hobbled the night before he couldn’t run the bases. In this game, you saw why. He was clearly hobbled and had even more difficulty getting around than he usually does. He was noticeably in pain, and he was playing on a slick field. There was an incident in the fifth inning where he tried to leg out an infield single, and it looked like he was going to need help to get off the field. Cabrera would come out to take his position just before the beginning of the next half inning.
Nationals 6 – Mets 3
Other than a clearly hobbled and limited Cabrera playing again, no issues.
Braves 8 – Mets 2
There were two off days due to the rainout, but Collins having Salas warm up on multiple occasions was a poor decision. It is bad enough Salas is on pace for over 100 appearances. It is worse when he warms up multiple times a game. After having warmed up multiple times, Salas came in and pitched poorly again allowing two earned run in his inning of work.
Braves 7 – Mets 5
We’ve all seen the video by now. Cespedes was hobbled and wincing while taking batting practice. If he’s a bench player or the most important player on the team, you cannot put a compromised player in the lineup. You are only asking for whatever injury is there to be exacerbated. That’s exactly what happened. On Cespedes’ fourth inning double, he pulled up to second base lame. He had to be helped off the field. Instead of him sitting out a day game after a night game, now he is sure to miss a lot of time. Sandy Alderson deserves his fair share of blame for allowing the decision to happen. Collins may deserve more after his post game meltdown where he effectively stated he won’t second guess the decision to not put Cespedes on the disabled list.
In his opinion, if you put every injured player on the disabled list, you’ll run out of people to play. Of course, it doesn’t work that way. If you put injured people on the disabled list, you can call up healthy players to play. Instead, the Mets keep injured players on the team who can’t even pinch hit. Then, when they get in a game, they get injured more meaning they’re out for a longer period of time. It is really disconcerting that this needs to be explained.
The real gem from Collins was Cespedes did all he needed to do to get into the lineup. Really? He couldn’t even take batting practice without complication. What did he need to do? Put on the correct hat and jersey combination for that game?
By the way, since Cespedes’ injury, he’s played 13 innings. Lets see how many more he plays in the first half of the season after he was helped off the field.
With the full season minor leagues having their Opening Day on Thursday, the Mets have announced the rosters for each of their minor league affiliates. Each team includes an interesting group of prospects. Each team also features a particular strength of each aspect of the Mets farm system. Keeping in mind each particular group is viewed not just in terms of how good the players are now, but also how they project going forward, here are the best of the best:
Best Starting Pitching – St. Lucie Mets
The St. Lucie rotation features a number of pitchers who may very well make their way to a major league mound. The former second round draft pick Church fixed both his hip and his mechanics, and he had a breakout season last year. Dunn is already a top 10 Mets prospect a year after he was drafted. Molina is back from Tommy John surgery, and he has looked good in both the Arizona Fall Leauge and Spring Training. Crismatt more than held his own against the vaunted Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic. This is as exciting a rotation as there is in the minor leauges, and possibly, you will see some version of this rotation with the Mets one day.
Honorable Mention: Columbia Fireflies. A rotation with Jordan Humphreys, Merandy Gonzalez, and Harol Gonzalez is a very interesting minor league rotation. It would have been more interesting with Thomas Szapucki, but he is slated to miss time due to a shoulder impingement.
Best Bullpen – Las Vegas 51s
The 51s bullpen features Sewald and Roseboom who were both extremely effective closers last season. Certainly, both impressed the Mets enough to get long looks during Spring Training. Prior to having bone spurs removed, Goeddle was an effective major league reliever. Rowen gives you a different look with his sidewinding action on the mound. Arguably, this could be a major league bullpen that could hold its own.
Honorable Mention: Binghamton Rumble Ponies. The Rumble Ponies bullpen has Corey Taylor, who has been favorable compared to Jeurys Familia, as its closer. There are some other interesting names like Ben Griset, who is a very promising LOOGY, and Luis Mateo, who was once a very well thought out prospect before he faced some injury issues.
Best Catching Tandem – Las Vegas 51s
If nothing else, Plawecki has established he can handle a major league starting staff. More to the point, Plawecki has shown himself to be a very good pitch framer. While his bat has lagged in the majors, at 26, he still has time to improve. Behind him is Carrillo, who is a good defensive catcher that won the Gold Glove in the Mexican Winter Leagues this past offseason.
Honorable Mention: Binghamton Rumble Ponies. Tomas Nido seemingly put it all together in St. Lucie last year, and he appears poised to take the mantle as the Mets catcher of the future. Binghamton very easily could have been named the top catching tandem off that, but some deference was paid to Plawecki showing he can handle the position defensively at the major league level.
Best Infield – Las Vegas 51s
When the weak point of your infield is a player who is coming off a season where he won the Eastern League batting title, you know you have something special. Rosario and Smith are considered two of the best prospects not only at their positions, but in the entire game. Cecchini played well enough last year to be put on the 40 man roster a year ahead of schedule and earn a September call-up where he hit two doubles in six major league at-bats.
Honorable Mention: St. Lucie Mets. The team features a pair of 2016 draft picks in 1B Peter Alonso and SS Colby Woodmansee who showed real ability during their time in Brooklyn. Due to that success, they both skipped Columbia and joined an interesting second base prospect in Vinny Siena and a promising hitter at third base in Jhoan Urena.
Best Outfield – Columbia Fireflies
No, this isn’t because of Tebow. This is mostly about Lindsay, who has been labeled as an “offensive machine” by the Mets organization. He is a five tool prospect that with a little health will arrive at Citi Field sooner rather than later. Another interesting five tool prospect is former Division II player Zanon. He certainly has all the tools to succeed. It is a question whether those tools can translate against better competition. Cone is a player who has a good baseball IQ, but he still needs to translate that and his talent to on the field success
Honorable Mention: Las Vegas 51s. The outfield got demonstratively better with the recent signing of Desmond Jennings. It will get better with either Brandon Nimmo or Michael Conforto playing for them again. That depends on Nimmo’s health as well as the health of the major league outfield. It will also be interesting to see how Matt Reynolds handles taking on what was Ty Kelly‘s role last year in being a utility player that mostly plays left field.
Overall, the Mets have a number of good to very good prospects who are either close or project to be major leaguers. Some of those players like Rosario will be stars. Others should have long major league careers. While we are getting excited for another year of Mets baseball, we also have a lot to be excited about for years to come with these prospects.
While the Mets had been blessed with good health for most of Spring Training, the injuries are now starting to mount. The latest is Juan Lagares‘ oblique strain.
Back in 2014, Lagares had a similar injury costing him 22 games. If this latest oblique strain is similar in nature, Lagares will assuredly begin the season on the disabled list. With the relative unpredictability of oblique injuries, no one can really guarantee when Lagares will be able to play again. That’s a huge problem as he’s the only true center fielder available.
Curtis Granderson is the team’s everyday center fielder, but that’s a product of his offense. Given his age, 36, and his having to be moved away from center earlier in his career, the Mets need a backup to help share some of the load.
This could be able place for Brandon Nimmo, but he’s dealing with a hamstring injury from the World Baseball Classic.
The Lagares and Nimmo injuries could create an opportunity for Michael Conforto. However, Conforto is not a center fielder, and the Mets want him getting regular at-bats.
The Mets other potential options like T.J. Rivera and Ty Kelly aren’t center fielders. The Mets have toyed with the idea of Jose Reyes in center, but he hasn’t played much there. Moreover, this also means the Mets would have to go with Wilmer Flores at third. Ideally, that only works if a left-handed pitcher is on the mound.
Essentially, the Mets are faced with a number of bad options in center until Lagares returns . . . whenever that happens.
Fortunately for the Mets, the perfect solution for their current center field problem has emerged with Drew Stubbs opting out of his contract with the Minnesota Twins.
Stubbs is a career .244/.314/.397 hitter. From 2010 – 2014, Stubbs was an everyday player who averaged 19 doubles, three triples, 15 homers, 50 RBI, and 27 stolen bases a year.
Clearly, Stubbs isn’t a great hitter, but he is two things the Mets need: (1) right-handed and (2) speedy. Notably, Stubbs is a career .272/.348/.444 hitter against left-handed pitchers. This is much better than the .276/.322/.412 hitter Lagares is.
To that extent, Stubbs presents an upgrade over Lagares. However, as we all know Stubbs isn’t in the same class as Lagares defensively as no one is.
In center field, Stubbs has averaged a -1 DRS and -1.3 UZR in center field. These are hardly outstanding numbers, but the numbers do establish Stubbs can handle center competently. When you consider the alternatives, the Mets could do a lot worse.
Overall, Stubbs is a good fit for a Mets team that needs a center fielder, a right-handed bench bat, and some speed. Having a player like him available at this point in Spring Training is a godsend.
According to Anthony DiComo of mlb.com, the Mets aren’t interested.
This is a mistake. The Mets need a center fielder. The Mets need a right-handed bench bat. The team could use some more speed. The Mets need to break the habit of relying on injured players.
They can break that bad habit by signing Stubbs.
With the USA beating a Puerto Rico team with deep Mets ties, a thrilling World Baseball Classic has come to an end. Now, we look forward to Opening Day with the hope that the Mets could make a great run just like the USA and win the World Series this year. IF that were to happen, the Mets will need contributions from the Mets players who played in the World Baseball Classic.
Looking over the players, it is clear some of these players are ready for Opening Day while others may need some more time to get ready for the season.
RHP Nabil Crismatt G, 3.0 IP,
Despite never having pitched above A ball, or having one full season as a starter, Colombia turned to Crismatt to beat a Dominican Republic team with a lineup featuring Manny Machado, Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista, Carlos Santana, Nelson Cruz, and Gregory Polanco. The 22 year old hurler more than held his own relying on locating his fastball and using his terrific change to keep Colombia in the game. He kept the Colombian hopes alive while giving the Mets real hope he could be a major leaguer one day.
RHP Jeurys Familia 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 G, 2 SV, 3.1 IP, 5 K, 0.60 WHIP
Familia was primed and ready for the WBC throwing fastballs up to 100 MPH. After the Wild Card Game, he reminded everyone why he is a dominant MLB closer. The only issue for him in the WBC was the Mets complaining about how he was used, which was a surprise to everyone including Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena.
RHP Hansel Robles 0-0, 2.45 ERA, 4 G, 3.2 IP, 4 K, 0.82 WHIP
Like Familia, Robles showed he’s ready to go for Opening Day with the lone run scored against him coming in the opener against Canada. Robles had all of his pitches working, and he showed better command of the strike zone than he has typically shown in his Mets career.
SS Jose Reyes 4 G, 18 AB, 2 R, 5 H, 2 2B, SB, .278/.316/.389
Reyes split time at shortstop with Machado and Jean Segura, but ultimately Reyes was the country’s top choice for both shortstop and a lead off hitter. Reyes was that spark plug at the time of the lineup that helped power the Dominican Republic team to an undefeated record in Pool C play and had the Dominicans ever so close to advancing to the semis. The only issues with Reyes were the same ones he has shown over the past few years. He is no longer suited to being an everyday shortstop, and he doesn’t get on base as much as he did in his prime. With that said, Reyes seems ready for Opening Day.
UTIL Ty Kelly 6 G, 24 AB, 6 R, 5 H, 2B, .208/.321/.250
Kelly served as the number two hitter and third baseman for an Israeli team that was the biggest surprise of the WBC. Kelly said of the team’s upset of the Netherlands, “Definitely the most stressful game I’ve been a part of. But it was worth it.” That was surprising considering Kelly had a pinch hitting appearance in what was then a scoreless Wild Card Game against Madison Bumgarner. Kelly’s statements only go to show how important the WBC was to the players. As for Kelly, he did not have as strong as he would have liked, but he certainly did his heritage proud.
SS Gavin Cecchini 4 G, 15 AB, 2 H, 2B, RBI, .133/.333/.200
The highlight for Cecchini in the World Baseball Classic was a game tying single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth sending the game against Venezuela into extra innings. Aside from that single, the WBC was a mixed bag for Cecchini. He showed discipline at the plate, and he showed his extra base power. He also struggled defensively at short, which will only further justify the Mets decision to transition him to second base.
CF Brandon Nimmo 3 G, 11 AB, 3 R, 2 H, HR, 2 RBI, .182/.308/.455
Nimmo had a good WBC as the leadoff hitter for Italy. He had an RBI single off left-handed reliever Oliver Perez to help Italy’s furious five run ninth inning to shock Mexico. In the surprising effort against Venezuela, Nimmo hit a home run off Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon. Unfortunately, Nimmo also injured his hamstring which could have effected Italy’s chances of advancing in the WBC, and it also might have impacted his chances of making the Opening Day roster.
C Xorge Carrillo 2 G, 8 AB, R, 2 H, .250/.333/.250
While he did not start the opener, which was a shocking loss to Italy, Carrillo got the start in Mexico’s final two games. The minor league defensive specialist was fine behind the plate. In an upset over Venezuela, he had a base hit and a run scored. Unfortunately for him and his countrymen, the win was for naught as they were eliminated from the WBC due to tiebreakers. He should be better from this experience as he looks to continue to improve in the minor league next year.
RHP Fernando Salas 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 2 G, 1.0 IP, K, 3.00 WHIP
Due to visa issues, Salas was not able to report to Mets camp prior to the WBC. In Salas’ two games in the WBC, he showed that rust. As Salas continued to have visa issues after the WBC, it was good he was even able to participate in the tournament because it provided him some opportunity to face living pitching.
SP Seth Lugo 2-1, 4.20 ERA, 3 G, 3 GS, 15.0 IP, 12 K, 1.07 WHIP
Lugo was the ace of the Puerto Rican staff, and he pitched like it. His three games were against the vaunted Venezuelan and United States lineups. Lugo not only held his own, but in his first two starts he was dominant pitching to a 2.45 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP. In the championship game, he was getting his fastball up to 95 MPH, and he recorded five strikeouts. Unfortunately, the walks caught up to him, and he left the game down 3-0. Overall, Lugo made a good case for him making the Opening Day roster whether as the fifth starter or as a member of the bullpen.
IF T.J. Rivera, 7 G, 24 AB, 3 R, 4 H, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .167/.192/.458
In six of the seven games in the WBC, Rivera played first base, and he played a good defensive first base. For a player that is trying to market himself as a versatile infielder for the Mets, Rivera certainly proved he can handle a position he rarely played in the minor leauges. At the plate, he didn’t hit much, but when he did get a hit it counted. His home run in the semi-final gave Puerto Rico a brief 3-2 lead in a tightly fought game that went into extra innings.
C Rene Rivera 2 G, 8 AB, R, 3 H, 2 2B, RBI, .375/.375/.625
Surprisingly, Rivera got into two games in the WBC, and he did not catch in either of them. In Pool D, he entered the game as a DH against Italy. In a meaningless game against Venezuela, Rivera got the start at first base. At the plate, he was as good as can be expected. However, with respect to the 2017 season, it would have been better if he got in some play behind the plate to get ready for the season.
And because everyone is obviously interested, Yoenis Cespedes‘ younger brother Yoelqui had a strong WBC. In five games, the 19 year old Cespedes hit .250/.250/.313 with two runs, a double, and an RBI. He also showed good range and a strong throwing arm in right field. Perhaps, there may come a time in the future when the younger Cespedes gets the opportunity to play in the major leagues like his older brother.
On the dawn of the World Baseball Classic, Mets starter Noah Syndergaard made some waves when he stated, “I’m a Met. Ain’t nobody made it to the Hall of Fame or the World Series playing in the WBC.” (Abby Mastrocco, nj.com).
Judging from attendance at Spring Training, Syndergaard’s belief is not something that is universally shared in the Mets clubhouse. Jose Reyes is one of the few major league players that have appeared in all four WBCs. He is joined on the Dominican Republic team by Mets relievers Hansel Robles and Jeurys Familia.
Fernando Salas threw his first pitch this Spring for Mexico. Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini have been stars for Italy. Seth Lugo and T.J. Rivera, two players arguably fighting over the last spots on the Opening Day roster, are playing with Mets back-up catcher Rene Rivera for an undefeated Puerto Rico team. Ty Kelly is both fighting for a potential roster spot and for a spot in the semifinal for Israel.
Point is, while Syndergaard doesn’t believe in the importance of the WBC, many of his teammates do. That includes team captain David Wright, who said, “Everybody has their right to their own opinion, and obviously Noah doesn’t think too highly of it. But I do. So I’m not sure if it’s just a different mentality, and I’m not sure if there’s a right or a wrong. But getting a chance to represent your country, and put that jersey on, and hear the chants of ‘U-S-A, U-S-A’ — that’s one of the highlights of my career. (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).
It should be noted Wright wasn’t calling out Syndergaard like the time he and Bobby Parnell threw Syndergaard’s lunch in the garbage. He wasn’t singling out Syndergaard either noting other great players like Clayton Kershaw have opted not to play in the WBC without having to face the same scrutiny Syndergaard has. Rather, Wright was merely trying to speak to what the WBC has meant to him.
It certainly was one of the highlights of Wright’s career. In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Wright sent USA to the semifinals with a walk-off hit against Puerto Rico. In the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Wright would loom even larger. He hit the decisive grand slam against Italy that helped propel the United States back to the semifinals. In the 2013 tournament, Wright hit .438/.526/.750 with two doubles, a grand slam, and 10 RBI. Wright was named as the third baseman to the All WBC Team. If not for his intercoastal injury before the semifinals, who knows if USA wins the WBC that year?
Among USA players in WBC history, Wright is second all-time in games played, third in hits, second in doubles, and first in RBI. He is a ,333/.400/.458 hitter in WBC history. He had two huge go-ahead late inning hits that propelled the USA into the semifinals. It is why Wright was dubbed Captain American. Overall, you cannot discuss the greatness of Wright’s career without mentioning the WBC.
It is an event that has mattered to Wright as much as any moment in his career. As Wright said, “Up to this point if you say, ‘Hey, what’s the most fun you’ve had on a baseball field?’ I’d say the World Series. But I would say in the conversation of cool things that I’ve gotten to do on a baseball field, the World Baseball Classic is toward the top of that list for sure.”
Overall, during Spring Training and the WBC, Wright has been noticeably absent. As his health issues continue to linger and keep him off the field, the 2013 WBC and 2015 World Series seem farther and farther away. However, those moments should not serve as the epilogue to a great career for a great Met. Rather, they should serve as highlights.
Deep down, each and every Mets fan must hope Wright has another chapter left in him. It may not happen in the WBC. It may happen in the World Series. And it may just happen this year.
Looking over the Mets infield, there are two things that squarely stand-out. The first is that this is an aging group of players coming off significant injuries. The second is this infield is not a particularly good defensive infield.
John Dewan of Acta Sports, and Fielding Bible fame, projected the Mets to have the worst defense up the middle in 2017. The projection calls for Neil Walker to be a -1 DRS next season, which is what he has averaged over the past three seasons. Asdrubal Cabrera is projected to post a -9 DRS, which is worse than the -7 DRS he has averaged over the past two seasons. While you would certainly want both Walker’s and Cabrera’s bats in the game, certainly, the Mets would benefit by having a better glove in the game when there is a lead late in the game.
That is exactly what the Mets have done with Juan Lagares. After the team acquired Yoenis Cespedes at the 2015 trade deadline, Lagares has served as a defensive replacement late in games. The Mets doing this has served two important purposes. First, it has helped the Mets preserve leads by putting their best defense on the field. Second, it helps save some innings, and by extent wear and tear, on players like Cespedes and Curtis Granderson. It is a large reason why the Mets will be returning Lagares to the same role in 2017.
It is something the Mets should consider for their infield. The issue is the Mets do not have the bench to do it.
Jose Reyes has averaged a -9 DRS at shortstop over the past three years, which would indicate he’s a downgrade from Cabrera. Wilmer Flores had a -10 DRS as the starting shortstop in 2015, and he has a -6 DRS as a second baseman in 576.0 major league innings. The other options being considered for the bench, T.J. Rivera and Ty Kelly, are hardly terrific defenders in their own right. Certainly, you are not taking the steady handed Walker and Cabrera off the field for them.
No, the only good defensive player who is a realistic option to make the Opening Day roster is Matt Reynolds.
Reynolds is not a gold glover in the middle infield. However, he does have the same steady hands Walker and Cabrera have while having better range at the position. He certainly has the arm to play second, short, and third. That also makes him an option to take some innings away from David Wright at third. Overall, Reynolds is most likely the best defensive infielder the Mets not named Amed Rosario. The fact that he is also capable of serving as the team’s fifth outfielder makes him an all the more enticing roster option.
What is going to hurt his chances of making the team is his bat. He hit .225/.266/.416 in 47 games with the Mets last year. He has played 254 games in the hitter’s haven that is the Pacific Coast League, Reynolds has only hit .284/.342/.411. Overall, he’s not a great hitter. It’s quite possible that even with him putting in extra time with Kevin Long he will never develop into a good hitter.
But the Mets don’t need hitters. They have plenty of them on this team. What they need are good defenders. With Lagares, they have that in the outfield. With Reynolds, they would have that in the infield as well.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online
After last season, Mets fans became aware of who Gavin Cecchini, Ty Kelly, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and T.J. Rivera were. While we may have been aware of who they were, Mets fans got to see Rene Rivera and Fernando Salas up close and personal for the first time. Naturally, you are well aware of who Jeurys Familia and Jose Reyes are. Still, there are some other Mets participating in this edition of the World Baseball Classic that most Mets fans are going to see for the first time. Here’s a a look at those players and what we may expect to see
2016 Level: Binghamton & Las Vegas
2016 Stats: 85 G, 327 PA, 290 AB, 28 R, 79 H, 14 2B, 4 HR, 25 RBI, CS, .272/.347/.362
The 27 year old Carrillo is a catcher’s catcher. He is a good receiver behind the plate, and he has a good, not great, throwing arm that allows him to control the running game. For his defensive skills, he was recently given a Gold Glove in the Mexican Pacific Winter Leagues.
At the plate, Carrillo shows a good eye at the plate, but not much pop. While you can argue his glove is major league ready, his bat probably isn’t. Still, Carrillo is a hard worker that has shown the willingness to do whatever is necessary to improve his game. Considering Mets fans once saw the likes of Mike Nickeas serve as a back-up catcher at the major league level, it is not impossible that Carrillo could one day get a chance in the major leagues.
RHP Nabil Crismatt
2016 Level: Brooklyn, Columbia, Binghamton
2016 Stats: 1-4, 2.47 ERA, 13 G, 7 GS, SV, 65.2 IP, 74 K, 0.883 WHIP, 10.1 K/9
The 22 year old Crismatt has been an interesting pitching prospect since the Mets signed him as a non-drafted free agent out of Columbia in 2011. Crismatt has never had dominating stuff with his fastball typically sitting between the high 80s to the low 90s. With that said, he’s able to get batters out because he knows how to pitch. He has clean, easily repeatable mechanics. While he does not have a blazing fastball, he is able to locate the pitch well. He gets the most out of his fastball because he has a terrific change-up. He gets the most out of both pitches because he knows how to attack hitters to not only get a high number of strike outs, but also get a good number of ground balls.
The Mets did not protect Crismatt from the Rule 5 Draft last year, and he wasn’t selected. The Mets may not be so lucky the next time around. Crismatt has shown he can thrive as a starter and as a reliever. At the moment, he projects as a major league reliever. With that said if he can develop a third pitch to be on the level of his fastball and change-up, he may very well be able to thrive in a major league rotation.
Certainly, aside from these prospects, I’m sure the player most Mets fans have the most interest in seeing play during the World Baseball Classic is Yoenis Cespedes‘ 19 year old brother Yoelkis. Unsurprisingly, Yoelkis has been dubbed a five tool player.
Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise David Wright is not going to be ready for Opening Day. No one realistically knows when Wright is going to be ready to play this year. With that in mind, the Mets now have an open roster spot on the Opening Day roster. On the 40 man roster, the Mets have T.J. Rivera and Matt Reynolds. Ty Kelly would also be an option should the Mets be willing to make a 40 man roster move, which could include putting Wright on the 60 day disabled list.
The argument for Kelly would be the fact that his switch hitting ability would present the Mets with a left-handed hitting option for a team that promises to have a completely right-handed bench. His versatility in the field may also prove to be important. With that said, if you are willing to make an important roster move for Kelly, why not go ALL-IN and bring back Kelly Johnson.
Over the past two seasons, Johnson has hit .260/.319/.441 with 14 homers and 37 RBI in 131 games. Over those 131 games, Johnson has played every position for the Mets except pitcher, catcher, and center field. He could prove to be a very important player for the Mets.
Fact is, Johnson has been vitally important to the Mets over the past two seasons. In 2015, he was able to serve as an everyday player until the team got healthy. In 2016, he worked diligently to become a better hitter with him hitting .268/.328/.459. When Neil Walker went down, he and Wilmer Flores joined to make an extremely effective platoon at second base. As we’ve seen, he’s also capable of playing third, which just became an important issue again with Wright being unable to play on Opening Day.
Frankly, it is surprising that it would come to this for the Mets to make a move to add Johnson. This is the same player the Mets have traded prospect after prospect for in successive years. The ultimate reason these trades were necessary was because the Mets had built flawed, if not weak, benches heading into the 2015 and 2016 seasons. While the Mets bench in 2017 promises to be deeper than year’s past, it is still flawed for the aforementioned reasons. The addition of Kelly Johnson would go a long way in resolving the issues the bench currently has.
Right now, the Mets have a need for another bench player. There is a veteran who has not only played well coming off the bench, but he has also played well in New York. Both are more difficult than many believe, and that is why a player like Johnson is important. Realistically speaking, with Sandy Alderson already telling the media, the Mets are “all-in” this year, he should put his money where he mouth is and re-sign Johnson.
That’s what teams who are all-in do when a need arises.