Tyler Bashlor

Mets Scapegoated Wrong Coach For Brodie Van Wagenen’s Failures

A night after the Mets blew a game partially because Gary Disarcina had an unfathomly bad send of J.D. Davis, the Mets decided to fire pitching coach Dave Eiland and bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez. Seeing Brodie Van Wagenen’s press conference where he refused to accept any personal responsibility, you could see this was nothing but a scapegoat decision to deflect from his failures as a General Manager. In typical Van Wagenen fashion, he scapegoated the wrong person because that’s what a terrible General Manager with no accountability does.

On the surface, you may want to pinpoint how the pitching has not lived up to its billing. After all, the Mets team 4.74 ERA is the 11th worst in baseball, and their 5.37 bullpen ERA is the third worst in baseball. Of course, there are some other considerations behind those numbers.

On the starter ERA front, the Mets top four starters have a 4.27 ERA. While not where you may not want it, it’s still a half a run lower than the staff ERA. That is because the rest of the staff including Corey Oswalt, Chris Flexen, and Wilmer Font have combined for a 7.19 ERA.

The bullpen ERA also needs to be put in perspective as well. That ERA comes from pitchers like Drew Gagnon (7.65 ERA), Tyler Bashlor (5.40 ERA), Luis Avilan (9.28 ERA), Hector Santiago (6.57 ERA), and Jacob Rhame (8.10 ERA). Say what you want about Eiland, but much of the team’s pitching struggles are related to the team not having Major League quality arms and having a complete lack of pitching depth.

Another factor is the Mets horrible defense. Their -55 DRS is the second worst in the Majors. That’s a year off of them being the second worst team in the National League with a -121 DRS. Their inability to field is part of the reason why the Mets pitching staff has a 4.27 FIP, which is 11th best in the majors. That includes a 3.99 FIP for their starters.

On that front, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler each have an FIP better than that mark with each of them in the top 30 among Major League starters meaning they are actually pitching like top of the rotation starters. Put another way, Eiland had the good pitchers on this staff actually pitching well, at least most of them.

Going back, what hasn’t been happening is the Mets playing well defensively. As noted by Mark Simon of The Athletic, the Mets are the worst shifting team in baseball. In fact, they are one of just a few teams whose shifting has cost the team runs. As noted by ESPN‘s Paul Hembekides, the Mets infield defense has an MLB worst 70 percent out rate on ground balls, .270 batting average on ground balls allowed, and 218 ground ball hits allowed.

That wasn’t the case back when Tim Teufel was the infield coach. No, he had the team where they needed to be, and in fact, back in 2015, when the Mets had Daniel Murphy at second, Wilmer Flores playing shortstop, and Eric Campbell playing more infield than anyone, the Mets had a positive 15 DRS.

No, things went real south when they hired Disarcina.

On the topic of Disarcina, we have not only seen Amed Rosario not fulfill his Gold Glove promise, but he has really struggled defensively. Part of that is the shifting, and part of that is Disarcina not doing the job he was hired to do. That is not too dissimilar from when he sent Davis home (another player he has not been able to help with his infield defense) among his other bad sends this year. It’s also not too dissimilar from when he failed to properly run quality control last year as the team’s bench coach last year leading to Jay Bruce batting out of order.

If you’re looking to scapegoat a coach, the Mets should have scapegoated the coach who has not performed well in his job. On that topic, Glenn Sherlock hasn’t performed well either. We have seen both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki pick it up to the levels they were with Bob Geren, but that required them leaving the organization and getting competent coaching elsewhere. There’s also Chili Davis, who is the hitting coach for a team hitting ground balls 46.0 percent of the time and a hard hit rate of 35.3 percent (both bottom six in the majors) at a time when the juiced ball is flying out of ballparks.

If the Mets were looking to scapegoat a coach for the poor job Van Wagenen did to build this roster, he should have picked Disarcia, Sherlock, or Davis. Instead, he picked Eiland, a pitching coach with two World Series rings, a man who was actually doing his job well because he needed a scapegoat to hide from his complete failure to build necessary pitching depth.

At some point in time, Brodie Van Wagenen is going to have to finally take some personal responsibility, something he refused to do yesterday, and admit he has done a very poor job. Maybe at that point, he can stop with the half measures and scapegoating and instead focus on making the changes needed to turn the Mets into they type of club he hyped them to be heading into the season.

Callaway’s Mistake Was Gsellman, Not Lugo

In the rematch of the 2016 NLDS between Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner, the key difference tonight seemed to be the Mets weren’t starting James Loney and Rene Rivera.

It seemed that way in the sixth inning when Pete Alonso homered to lead off the inning, and three batters later Wilson Ramos would hit a go-ahead two run homer to give the Mets a 3-2 lead.

With the lead in hand, Syndergaard went to pitch the seventh. There were two outs with a runner at first and Evan Longoria heading to the plate.

Some things to consider here. Longoria entered the game 3-for-10 off Syndergaard. Syndergaard was over 100 pitches. In his career, batters are hitting .320/.358/.400 off of him. Really, when you break it down, even if you wanted to see Syndergaard finish that inning, Mickey Callaway pulling Syndergaard for Seth Lugo.

After all, Lugo is the team’s best reliever, and although the bullpen had been taxed, Mets starters had a streak of six straight games with 6.0+ innings pitched, and the Mets were off yesterday. You may not agree, but Callaway made a defensible and arguably the right decision.

Being the Mets, it didn’t work out. Longoria singled, and Brandon Belt doubled to tie the game. The Giants didn’t take the lead there because Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil executed a perfect relay to cut down Longoria at the plate.

After Lugo pitched a scoreless eighth, and Edwin Diaz pitched a scoreless ninth, Callaway would make an indefensible decision. He brought in Robert Gsellman for the tenth.

Even with the off day and the starters giving length, Gsellman is completely gassed. He’s allowed at least one earned run in five of his last six appearances and has a 9.95 ERA over the stretch. Believe it or not, things got worse.

Stephen Vogt hit a two RBI double off Gsellman to give the Giants a 5-3 lead. As if that wasn’t enough, after a Kevin Pillar groundout and an intentional walk to Brandon Crawford, Steven Duggar hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play. Instead, it deflected off Gsellman’s back and became an RBI double giving the Giants a 6-3 lead.

Well, if you’re a fan who questions why exactly Callaway has gone to the whip so often with his top three guys, Hector Santiago would provide the answer.

He’d allow an RBI double to Pablo Sandoval and an RBI single to Mike Yastrzemski making it a 9-3 game. The inning would mercifully end when Santiago retired Tyler Austin, who became the zombie batter (PH making a second plate appearance in the inning).

The Mets lost this game 9-3. They lost it to the second worst team in the NL. With the Mets now four games under .500, they’re looking more and more like one of the worst teams in the game.

Game Notes: Despite saying Robinson Cano was much closer to return than McNeil, McNeil was activated while Cano wasn’t. Tyler Bashlor was sent down to make room for McNeil on the roster.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Another Series

You can understand blowing games against the Dodgers. They are both a really good and a relentless team. It really becomes an issue when you do it against mediocre teams like the Diamondbacks:

1. The most bizarre criticism of Mickey Callaway was his lifting Pete Alonso for a pinch runner in the eighth inning of a game where the Mets had a four run lead. By lifting him for Juan Lagares, you’re getting more speed on the basepaths, and you are helping bolster both the infield and the outfield defense. It was 100% the right decision.

2. The criticism over his use of Jeurys Familia and Robert Gsellman was understandable, but let’s not pretend there was another real option. Drew Gagnon was bad in his last two pressure situations. Tyler Bashlor had three consecutive blown saves, and he wound up being the losing pitcher in the game. Really, other than those two and with it being too early to utilize a fatigued Edwin Diaz, there really wasn’t a better choice.

3. On Familia, there appears to be two problems. The first is he’s walking too many. The second is the defense behind him. He has a career worst .344 BABIP (.312 career) and a 66.2% LOB (75.4%) career. Essentially, the Mets are combining a ground ball pitcher with a bad infield defense. Not a good mix.

4. We should again note that as of today Craig Kimbrel no longer has draft pick compensation attached to him. We should also note he is now only going to get a prorated portion of the salary he wanted. If you’re all-in, there’s absolutely no excuse for the Mets to not sign him today.

5. The Mets have a National League worst -48 DRS with Amed Rosario (-13), J.D. Davis (-9), Wilson Ramos (-7), and Robinson Cano (-4). That’s -26 DRS from your infield.

6. Davis had a hot start, but he’s regressed to the mean, and he’s now one of the problems with the team. His defense is unplayable across the diamond, and he has been hitting .248/.313/.385. Since May 1st, Davis is hitting .208/.238/.351. As a point of reference, Eric Campbell hit .221/.312/.311 in his career with the Mets.

7. Seeing Arizona is a reminder how much the Mets miss Wilmer Flores. Aside from the things he did well as a player, he would have been great for this clubhouse. Flores went through this in 2015 and 2016. He also knows what it’s like to go from struggling to fan favorite. His attitude, rapport with his teammates, and his ability to play is needed on this team.

8. Looking at the team Brodie Van Wagenen assembled, the players he brought in have combined for a -0.7 WAR. The best position player he has brought aboard was Adeiny Hechavarria. Not to unfairly dump on Hechavarria, who is playing the best baseball of his career, but no General Manager in the history of baseball should ever be in a position to say the most productive position player he added to the roster was Adeiny Hechavarria.

9. The Mets are winning behind the talented players left behind by Sandy Alderson. One of those players has been Dominic Smith, who the team didn’t even want to give a chance to win the first base position in Spring Training.

10. Smith has really proven himself. He’s in the best shape of his life, and he’s a better player having had better treatment of his sleep apnea. He’s been great in the clubhouse, and he finally got his chance. It’s an extremely small sample size, but he’s hitting .359/.519/.609 with a 1 DRS when he’s a left fielder.

11. The Mets are playing Smith and Davis in left field because the team went into the season with just two starting everyday outfielders. This has also led them to flipping coins over whether Carlos Gomez (79 wRC+, 0 DRS), Aaron Altherr (-40 wRC+, 0 DRS), and Lagares (40 wRC+, -1 DRS).

12. It should also be noted the Mets had a chance to give Keon Broxton more playing time to see if they could salvage him. Instead, they cut him so they could call up Gomez. Since being traded to the Orioles, Broxton is hitting .250/.300/.500 (0.2 WAR). That’s a clear upgrade over the mess they have now.

13. Between Broxton and Davis, that’s just five prospects and Bobby Wahl thrown away from nothing.

14. That is a good reminder when Adam Jones hit that game tying three run homer off of Gsellman. It’s important to remember here Jones signed for just $3 million. THREE MILLION!

15. Steven Matz needed to be better than what he was on Sunday. The team needed a lift, and he gave up two runs before he even recorded an out. He gave up five runs total. Yes, the offense and defense didn’t show up either, but the Mets needed more from him. To be fair, he at least gave them length to help the pen, and unlike most of the lineup, he actually had a hit.

16. This team sure looks a lot different when Seth Lugo is available. His ability to pitch well and give the team length certainly masks a lot of problems with the bullpen.

17. It is great to see the Jacob deGrom of last year return. Maybe it’s Tomas Nido, and maybe it’s just getting back into a groove, but he’s looked like the guy he was last year. Since May 1st, he’s allowed two earned or fewer in six of his seven starts. Even with the inexplicable clunker in Miami, he has a 2.68 ERA, 1.008 WHIP, and a 4.6 K/BB over this stretch.

18. The hysteria about the personal catcher for deGrom is muchado about nothing. If deGrom pitches well to Nido, let him pitch to Nido. We should also note his pitching to Nido also affords Wilson Ramos a little extra rest. That seems to be working for him with him hitting .293/.376/.500 since May 1.

19. Zack Wheeler could’ve been better on Friday, but he did give the Mets a chance to win that game, and he gave them length to help save that bullpen.

20. After playing 20 consecutive games and going 9-11 over the stretch, the Mets are in need of today’s day off. Seeing Mets fans completely overreact to Callaway’s every look and smile, the fans can use the day off as well.

Bellinger And Bashlor Beat Mets.

Well, the re-match of Game 1 of the 2015 NLDS between Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw was nowhere near what it was a little over three years ago. Part of the reason why was a horrible home plate umpire:

Aside from the home plate umpire, one thing which hurt the Mets was Gary Disarcina with two questionable sends.

In the first, after Pete Alonso singled home Amed Rosario, Michael Conforto was nailed at home by Cody Bellinger. It happened again in the fifth when a Joc Pederson to Corey Seager relay on an Amed Rosario double cut down Tomas Nido, who was trying to score. The Mets definitely could have used those runs and all those they left on the base paths.

Still, the Mets were up 3-2 on the Dodgers after five.

For their part, the Dodgers scored on a fielder’s choice in the first, which initially appeared to be an inning ending double play to the incompetent first base umpire. The Dodgers second run came off a Bellinger third inning homer.

The miracle of sorts was there was no more damage against deGrom. That includes the Dodgers have runners at first and second and no outs in the fifth. While it was impressive deGrom got out of that jam, he was done after 105 pitches.

After deGrom, the bullpen completely imploded in the sixth. Chris Taylor hit a one out homer off Tyler Bashlor, and the wheels fell off. It certainly looked like that when Daniel Zamora allowed a homer of his own to Kike Hernandez. Later that inning, Zamora hit Seager with a pitch to force home a run.

All told, the Dodgers sent 12 men to the plate, and they scored scored six runs to go up 8-3. With the Mets compromised lineup, it seemed like that was it.

Surprisingly, the Mets had another run in them, and it was sparked by yet another Adeiny Hechavarria homer. After that two run homer, the Mete loaded the bases with one out:

On what should’ve been Nido scoring bon a J.D. Davis sacrifice fly, Carlos Gomez was nailed at third by Bellinger before Nido scored home. This shows you shy this team is back hol

Game Notes: Robinson Cano is traveling with the team, and he may be the first Mets player activated off the IL.

Mets Catchers Beat The Tigers

With the Tigers having a bottom five offense, you knew Jason Vargas was good for five. Seriously, the only teams Vargas has gone five innings has been against the five worst offenses in baseball (Reds, Marlins, Tigers). As with the typical Vargas start, the question is how would the Mets get enough innings from their relievers to get through the game. The reason that was an issue today was this game went 13.

One reason it went 13 was Wilson Ramos carried the Mets offense today.

His second inning homer tied the score at 1-1. His fourth inning RBI single gave the Mets a 2-1 lead. After Tyler Bashlor surrendered a two run homer to Brandon Dixon, Ramos responded with his second homer of the game:

After having just two homers entering this series, Ramos has three homers over his last two games. He now looks like the catcher the Mets believe they were signing, and with the injuries the team had sustained, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

It also seemed like today was the perfect time to use Edwin Diaz for four outs.

Robert Gsellman was in his second inning of work, and he was in trouble. After hitting a double earlier in the inning, Josh Harrison was on third with two outs. Mickey Callaway went to Diaz.

Because the Mets are making JaCoby Jones look like Al Kaline (recycled joke), he got the game tying RBI single.

Not only did this mean, Diaz would blow his first save as a Met, but with him throwing 13 pitches, it meant the Mets would need relievers to step up big starting in the ninth.

Those relievers did step up big, and it looked all the bigger considering they got themselves into trouble.

Wilmer Font pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth and tenth. In the tenth, the Tigers had two on and one out. Font struck out Grayson Greiner and Jones to end the jam.

Daniel Zamora took the ball in the eleventh. He’d allow two hits in the inning, but no real threat would mount as Ramos picked Gordon Beckham off first on what was supposed to be a bunt play:

For a moment, it looked like the Mets would take that momentum into the bottom of the inning and win the game.

After Tomas Nido flew out to begin the inning, Ramos walked. With his backup catcher already in the game and the Mets looking to pull out the win, Callaway pinch ran Steven Matz.

As is the Mets luck, Dominic Smith and Todd Frazier followed with bloop hits, but Matz couldn’t score. Matz’s inability to score looked fatal because Aaron Altherr struck out, Adeiny Hechavarria popped out to end the inning, and the Tigers had the bases loaded with one out against Hector Santiago in the 12th.

Santiago stepped up striking out Jones on three pitches (after walking two of his last three batters) and getting John Hicks to fly out to end the jam. Santiago then breezed through the top of the 13th, and with him due up second in the bottom of the inning, you wondered if Callaway was going to stick with him.

On Buck Farmer‘s third pitch to Nido, it would become a moot point:

The homer gave the Mets a 5-4 victory and once again pulled the Mets to within a game of .500. With Nido hitting the homer, it was once again an unsung hero. With Nido homering, it was the Mets catchers with all the offense.

Consider this, Ramos and Nido combined to go 4-for-6 with three homers and all five RBI. The rest of the lineup was 3-for-38. When you take out Todd Frazier, who made a nice play in the field to save a run earlier in the game, going 2-for-5, this means the Mets lineup was 1-for-33 with that hit coming from Dominic Smith, who entered the game in the ninth.

Looking at it, Callaway might have had his best game as a manager. He made the right calls (even if they didn’t work out), and he put all of his players in a position to succeed. His bullpen did, and eventually so did Nido.

Game Notes: In typical Mets fashion, Brandon Nimmo‘s injury was worse than the Mets led us to believe. He has a bulged disc in his neck with whiplash.

Five Homers Not Enough For Thor Or Gagnon

The Mets offense got home runs from Amed Rosario, Adeiny Hechavarria, Pete Alonso, Aaron Altherr, and Wilson Ramos resulting in eight runs scored. In essence, even though the lineup has been decimated by injuries, they did their job against Gregory Soto and the Tigers pitching staff.

This should have been the Tigers tenth straight loss. It wasn’t because Noah Syndergaard and Drew Gagnon were bad.

The Tigers went up 2-0 in the first before Syndergaard recorded an out. Actually, that’s not technically correct as the second run scored on a Miguel Cabrera sacrifice fly.

That lead grew to 4-0 in the second when JaCoby Jones, a career .195/.297/.335 career hitter who looked like Al Kaline tonight, hit a two run homer.

For a second, it looked like Syndergaard calmed down, and the Mets would rally to give him a 5-4 lead. He’d lose that lead surrendering a solo homer to Cabrera in the fifth.

The Mets handed him back the lead after the inning, and he’d hand it right back in the sixth leading to his having to be bailed out by Tyler Bashlor.

On the one hand, with Syndergaard due up in the bottom of the inning, you understand Mickey Callaway sticking with him, especially on a night where Edwin Diaz was unavailable. However, this is the same Callaway who loves double switching.

Despite it all, the Mets went to the top of the seventh with a 7-6 lead. Unfortunately, Gagnon just didn’t have it tonight.

There was a brief instant when you thought he’d get out of it. After a John Hick‘s double, the Tigers had runners at second and third with one out. Todd Frazier made a nice play on a Josh Harrison grounder keeping the runner at third and getting the out at first.

There was no bailing out Gagnon when Jones hit an RBI double after that giving the Tigers an 8-7 lead. After a Brandon Dixon RBI single, it was 9-7 Tigers.

In the bottom of that inning, it looked like the Mets were primed to come back again, but a Frazier double play killed that rally.

Ramos homered in the eighth, and later in the inning, Dominic Smith came up with Hechavarria at second with two outs. He’d strike out against Joe Jimenez to end the inning.

With that, the Mets would lose this game 9-8. They lost the game to a team who lost nine straight and were 11 games under .500. They lost the opportunity to get back to .500.

Game Notes: In addition to Altherr, Hector Santiago made his Mets debut. He pitched scoreless ninth. Like Altherr did tonight, former Met Keon Broxton hit a homer in his first at-bat with his new team.

Despite Or Because Of Mickey, Mets Win

In tonight’s game, you got to see reasons why the Mets should and should not fire Mickey Callaway.

For starters, there’s Zack Wheeler, who has been a different pitcher working with Callaway and Dave Eiland. While he’s had his struggles against the Nationals this year, he came to pitch tonight.

Over his first six innings, he allowed just two hits with one of those being a second inning Juan Soto solo homer. Entering the seventh, the score was tied 1-1 partially thanks to a Jeff McNeil fifth inning RBI single. With Wheeler at 99 pitches, you expected Callaway to pull Wheeler.

However, with Wheeler dominating and the Mets in a stretch of 14 straight games without an off day, Callaway pushed him. When Wheeler struck out Soto, you got a sense it was the right move. It probably still was even with Gerardo Parra hitting a single and Brian Dozier getting his first hit off a Mets pitcher this year. Unfortunately, that was a two run home run giving the Nationals a 3-1 lead.

While you may question sending Wheeler out for the top of the seventh, you have to give Callaway credit for utilizing his bench to take the lead in the bottom of the inning.

Wilson Ramos led off the inning with a single off Wander Suero, who was in his second inning of work. After Carlos Gomez struck out, Callaway sent up a pair of pinch hitters for Juan Lagares and Wheeler.

Dominic Smith walked putting the tying run on base. Then, J.D. Davis came up for Wheeler. Apparently, the Nationals are the only team who doesn’t have a scouting report on him because with two strikes against him, Suero didn’t throw a fastball to him. Nope, he hung a curveball, and Davis hit it off the top of the right field wall and out for a go-ahead three run homer:

The Mets had a lead with an opportunity to win their first game when trailing in the seventh. For some reason, Callaway went to Jeurys Familia despite his pitching 1.1 innings yesterday and struggling in that second inning, and that’s nothing to say of his coming off the IL recently.

Familia didn’t have it. Howie Kendrick hit a leadoff single, and he scored on a Trea Turner RBI double. Kendrick was able to score there partially because Davis, who is not a left fielder, couldn’t handle a ball hit to the corner.

Callaway went to Daniel Zamora to get Soto and Parra out. Soto jumped all over the first pitch hitting a go-ahead RBI double. After Zamora retired Parra, Tyler Bashlor came in and got Victor Robles out. Certainly, with how good Bashlor has been of late and with Familia going more than an inning yesterday, Callaway looked bad when Bashlor got that huge out.

We’d soon forget that as Callaway’s team played hard for him. That started with Pete Alonso, a player vocal in his support of Callaway, hit a mammoth homer in the eighth, tying the game:

Seriously, no one could quite tell if that was fair or foul. What we do know was that was Tommie Agee-esque, and it’s a new Mets rookie record for most first half homers.

With that homer and Edwin Diaz pitching a scoreless ninth, the Mets had a chance at a walk-off win.

Even with Tanner Rainey allowing that blast to Alonso, the Nationals stuck with him for the ninth. After striking out Gomez, he walked Adeiny Hechavarria and Davis back-to-back.

Kyle Barraclough came in and got deep into McNeil’s kitchen. McNeil hit a bloop toward second. Dozier got cut waiting on it. This led to getting Davis out at second easily, but Hechavarria and McNeil were easily safe. This put the game in Amed Rosario‘s hands . . . and feet.

Rosario hit a high chopper to short. Turner had to back up on it, and just as he was about to throw, McNeil jumped in his line. Maybe it made a difference, and maybe it didn’t. Whatever the case, the throw was a tad high, and with Rosario absolutely busting it down the line, he was safe by a half step, and the Mets won the game 6-5.

A week ago, the Mets lose this game. However, a team playing for a manager they apparently seem to like and respect, they pulled this one out. Even with a couple of questionable moves, maybe Callaway is the right guy for the job. He was at least for tonight.

Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo was a late scratch from the lineup with a neck injury.

If Mets Fire Mickey Callaway, Luis Rojas Should Be His Replacement

When Jim Riggleman was hired as the bench coach this past offseason, the running joke was the Mets hired their interim manager. With the Mets faltering, Mickey Callaway‘s seat grows hotter by the day, and it would appear this is less of a joke than it is becoming a reality. Or is it?

According to Mike Puma of the NY Post, in the event Callaway was fired, the organization would consider hiring Luis Rojas as they view him “as a rising star.”

Not only is Rojas a rising star, baseball runs through his veins. From the moment he was born, baseball encapsulated his entire life. This is the way things are when you grow up in country like the Dominican Republic. It’s also that way when your father is famed player and manager Felipe Alou, and your brother is Moises Alou. Taking a look at the bloodlines, you could almost see being a Major League manager as Rojas’ destiny.

For his part, Rojas believed this upbringing has influenced not just his career choice but also his views. Rojas would tell Anthony Dicomo of MLB.com, “Growing up in that environment was very impactful, very influential in my baseball growth. Just being born in a baseball atmosphere, right away opening my eyes on baseball from the beginning of my understanding was just really helpful. Right away, I wanted to follow my brothers’ steps. I wanted to follow the family’s steps.”

Obviously, Rojas was never the baseball player he brother was. From 1999 – 2005, he was a part of the Orioles, Marlins, and eventually Expos farm systems. He’d play 37 games for the Expos Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2004 hitting .240/.315/.352. Two years later, Rojas would begin his managerial career for the Expos Dominican Summer League team.

After that one season, the Mets jumped on Rojas, and they made him their DSL Manager for one season. The team then brought him stateside to serve as a coach for two years in the Gulf Coast League. Finally, in 2011, at the age of 29, Rojas would be named the manager of that same affiliate. From that point until this year, Rojas has been a manager in the Mets farm system.

During his time as a manager in the Mets system, he has managed a number of Mets prospects including current Mets Pete Alonso, Tyler Bashlor, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Drew Gagnon, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario, and Daniel Zamora. Put another way, Rojas has helped develop the current Mets core become not just Major League players, but in some instances, All-Star caliber players.

He’s certainly left an impression on each of these players. When hired, Alonso shared a story about Rojas’ enthusiasm for his players saying, “He was jumping up and down, arms waving in the air. I honestly think Luis was happier than [Nick Sergakis].”

But it’s more than enthusiasm and relationships, Rojas can coach. It’s one of the reasons why the Mets see him as a rising star and why they were so enthusiastic to name him the team’s first ever quality control coach. In addition to those duties, he is also the team’s outfield coach.

We are seeing his impact as an outfield coach right now. Entering this season, McNeil had played all of 26.1 innings in left field over a six year span. It was up to Rojas to get McNeil up to speed. As he explained, Rojas’ plan was to begin “with the basics: pre-pitch, stance, route, reads off the bat and we progress into other things that we are taking here into camp and then some of the drills that we bring in with some of the outfielders.” (NY Post).

With Rojas coaching McNeil, McNeil has quickly become good in the outfield with a 2 DRS, which is sixth best in the league. It’s also important to note when Conforto was drafted, the knock on him was his defense. He worked with Rojas on his defense, and he has been really good out there. Now that he’s reunited with Rojas, Conforto has a 3 DRS which is good for sixth best in the majors.Credit is due to the players, but they got to that point because they are working with an excellent coach.

Rojas is not just a coach who is able to connect with this players, he is also comfortable not just with analyzing advanced data, but also putting it in terms which are useful to the players. As noted by MMO‘s Michael Mayer, it is Rojas’ responsibility to streamline the data to the players.

While comparisons of this nature tend to be unfairly lofty, in some ways Rojas does remind you of Alex Cora. Rojas has shown the ability to understand not just the fundamental aspects of the game, but he is also well versed and comfortable handling analytical data. He is an excellent communicator and coach. He loves the game, and he loves his players.

Whenever the time comes, Rojas should prove to be a good manager for the Mets. He is everything an organization and its players want in a manager. Being the communicator he is, he should also be able to handle the press well. Hopefully, another team doesn’t realize what the Mets have in Rojas and grab him before the time the Mets have a chance to elevate him into the manager’s role he was destined to be seemingly since the day he was born.

 

Mets Recap Late While We Await The Team To Show Up

Jeff McNeil doubled off Pablo Lopez to start the game. That would be the Mets last hit of the game. Remember, Lopez entered this game with a 5.93 ERA.

There’s no sugar coating it. The Mets flat out didn’t show up, and this is the type of game which gets managers fired. If Mickey Callaway was smart, he’d be reaching out to Terry Francona and his other friends around the game to get his next job lined up sooner rather than later.

Steven Matz was activated off the IL, and he allowed two earned over 3.2 innings. It might as well have been 50 runs because this team wasn’t even going to score one even if Lopez walked three straight, went 3-0 to the batter, and he threw a pitchout.

If you as a fan have a problem with any Mets player, they gave you reason to be more irritated with them. That includes Robinson Cano not hustling after yesterday’s snafu. Todd Frazier and Wilson Ramos struck out two times a piece. List goes on and on.

We could talk about McNeil returning and the bullpen’s great work (Tyler Bashlor, Robert Gsellman, Edwin Diaz), but we’re not. This team didn’t show up, and they were terrible. They deserve nothing good to be said about them.

Game Notes: Paul Sewald was sent to Triple-A to make room for Matz on the roster.

Mets Chances Behind Font Go To Helvetica

Tonight, Gio Gonzalez had his fourth consecutive good start. He’s now 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA. Of course, because Brodie Van Wagenen felt the need to keep his former client Jason Vargas and his 5.92 ERA and his 3.2 innings per start in the rotation, despite knowing Steven Matz was dealing with elbow issues, Gonzalez is pitching well for the Milwaukee Brewers and not the New York Mets.

Instead, Van Wagenen made a panic trade for Wilmer Font, a 29 year old reliever with a 6.39 career ERA, to slot into the rotation. Perhaps, Van Wagenen is the only man alive who is surprised Font pitched like a 29 year old reliever with a career 6.39 ERA thrust into a starting role.

It was 1-0 off an Anthony Rendon ground rule double before Font recorded an out. The lead grew to 3-0 on a Juan Soto RBI groundout and Howie Kendrick RBI single. If Brian Dozier could still hit and Kendrick didn’t get caught stealing, things could have been much worse.

Actually, things did get worse. After a scoreless second, the Nationals tacked on two more in third off a Victor Robles solo shot and another Rendon RBI double.

With Patrick Corbin dealing, it was game over. The hanging slider J.D. Davis hit for a two out RBI double in the third was about his only mistake on the night. He’d last eight innings allowing just the one run on four hits and one walk while striking out 11.

The real shame for the Mets is Drew Gagnon pitched well in relief of Font. He’d allow no runs on three hits over 2.2 innings. Certainly, seeing Gagnon pitch, you have to question why the Mets traded for Font (or if Van Wagenen knows what he’s doing). Add in two scoreless from Tyler Bashlor, and the Mets bullpen did what Font couldn’t – pitch well.

About the only real positive from the night was Jeurys Familia pitching a 1-2-3 inning in his first game since coming off the IL. It may seem like a stretch, but when the Mets lose to a bad Nationals team because of an inept set of decisions by a novice GM, you take what you can get from this once again under .500 team.

Game Notes: Davis made his LF debut with the Mets in the eighth. He did not have a ball hit to him. The Mets remain disinterested in trying Dominic Smith in left field.