After the five game series against the Atlanta Braves, the New York Mets bullpen needed a break. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one in the schedule.
That left Chris Bassitt to get them one.
It wasn’t his prettiest outing, but it was his grittiest. While dancing around eight hits and a walk, Bassitt threw 114 pitches over eight innings.
In some ways, this was a page from the 2015 Mets. Use your dominant starting pitching and only those relievers you can trust.
Back in 2015, the only relievers the Mets trusted down the stretch were Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard, and Jeurys Familia. They had the starting pitching to limit it mostly to just these relievers in the big spots.
In the 2015 postseason, the Mets got innings primarily from Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey. That proved to be a bit of a double edged sword as it allowed the Mets to only have to roll with these relievers, but then, those relievers were exhausted and faltered in the postseason.
Fortunately for these Mets, they’re deeper. In addition to Díaz and Ottavino, they also have Trevor May, who has looked good since coming off the IL.
Seth Lugo has also better better of late. Moreover, Trevor Williams has performed in whatever role the Mets have needed from him. Keep in mind, Showalter isn’t Terry Collins as Showalter will use the next tier of guys when warranted.
That’s something Collins could never comprehend, and it cost the Mets dearly. Part of the reason the Mets could only use three relievers was because he only trusted three.
That led to disastrous decision making in Game 3 of the World Series which caused further bad decision making the rest of the series. However, the underlying principle was correct.
The more dominant innings you get from your starter; the better your bullpen is. Less innings means more rest. More rest means better performance. Better performance leads to wins.
In pressure spots, the Mets don’t want to see the last couple of pitchers in their bullpen. That goes double in the postseason. Of course, with Mets starters going deep, and we know they can, the Mets can lean on their top performers.
At least for this win, eight from Bassitt meant one from Ottavino as Díaz, May, Lugo, and Williams rested. It means the other pitchers will be fresher when called upon to pitch again.
This is how the Mets cover their tracks in the bullpen. Dominant starting pitching going deep into games followed by the 1-2 relievers a night the Mets actually want pitching in a big spot.
With Zack Wheeler on the Injured List, and his being unsure as to when he can return, the Mets biggest trade chip has now been compromised. As a result, a player who could have fetched one or possible two very good prospects may not fetch nearly the same level of return. This leaves the Mets organization pondering what to do with Wheeler and really all of their trade assets.
Working backwards a bit, Wheeler is not the only expiring contract the Mets have. There is Juan Lagares, who really has zero value on the trade market between his contract and his regression both offensively and defensively. After him is Jason Vargas, who has failed to go at least five innings in 40 percent of his starts. Vargas also threatened to attack a reporter, and he has had a 5.94 ERA since the incident. That in mind, it’s unlikely he has any value on the trade market.
Todd Frazier is having a nice season, but again, you wonder what his market will be. To put things in perspective, in 2017, he was traded by the White Sox to the Yankees for a package including Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, Blake Rutherford, and Tyler Clippard. Rutherford was a really good get for the White Sox, but that was mostly because they were trading Tommy Kahnle in the deal. Kahnle had been a very good reliever for a year plus, and he was under team control for four plus years.
For the Mets to get a similar return for Frazier, they would have to package him with an Edwin Diaz or a Seth Lugo. Based upon reports, the Mets are not interested in doing that, and you could understand that with the Mets having a young core still intact. It is also a reason the Mets are not looking to move Noah Syndergaard. As a result, the Mets really do not have any good trade chips; at least trade chips which will return anything more than the collection of right-handed relievers they received when they previously traded Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, and Jay Bruce.
Looking deeper, the Mets are “only” five games (four in the loss) out of the second Wild Card. At the moment, it is noticeable how the teams in front of them have done almost nothing to get going and really stake a claim to being a front runner for one of the two Wild Card spots. This is not too dissimilar from what we saw in 2016 where the Mets went from two games under .500 on August 19 to finish the season on a 27-13 tear to claim the top Wild Card spot.
Believe it or not, the Mets schedule actually does set up for another run like this. After today’s game against the White Sox, the Mets have 20 straight games against teams with a losing record. After that, they have a set at home against the Nationals, a team who currently has the top Wild Card spot.
That’s an incredible 23 game opportunity for the Mets to go on a real run up the Wild Card standings. This could be a team which could take full advantage of that opportunity because as Syndergaard said in 2016, the Mets are a second half team.
Wheeler has always been a strong second half pitcher. Same goes for Syndergaard whose career second half ERA is 38 points lower. Jacob deGrom has a better second half WHIP, K/9, and K/BB. In addition to the starters, we should expect to see a much better bullpen with the return of Justin Wilson. In fact, we have so far with the Mets bullpen ERA being 3.86 in July, which is 11th best in the majors and significantly better than the almost impossibly bad 7.53 June bullpen ERA.
There’s also the Amed Rosario factor. Over the past month, he is hitting .342/.365/.468 indicating he may be poised for a second half breakout. Very quietly, he has started to play better defense. In fact, since the All-Star Break, he is actually a 2 DRS. It’s a small sample size for sure, but it’s a positive development.
When you also consider how Michael Conforto and Robinson Cano are better hitters in the second half, you see a glimmer of hope. Speaking of Cano, with him and Edwin Diaz, you have to believe their second halves have to be better than their first.
Is this enough for the Mets to go out and buy? No, not even close. According to Fangraphs, the Mets postseason odds stand at 7.6 percent. Those are nearly insurmountable odds. However, that does not mean the Mets should go selling their players for little to no return when the schedule does set up favorably for them.
In the end, this is really about Wheeler. If he was healthy, the Mets could have received a significant return for him. If his IL stint changes things, it would behoove the Mets to offer him a qualifying offer at the end of the season and just let things ride with this team. After all, there is still a chance.
Each and every offseason, the common refrain is the Mets are in need of an additional left-handed reliever in the bullpen. Mostly, it is a call for the Mets to add a second left-handed pitcher, but this offseason it is more of a need to add a primary left-handed reliever. Time and again, this call misses the mark because what the team needs, what any team needs, is good relievers regarded of handedness.
While not axiomatic, the 2015 Mets who went to the World Series are a good example of this. Their left-handed reliever situation was a mess. Jerry Blevins injured himself early in the year, and then he would injure himself again. Alex Torres was terrible until he was finally released. They took a flyer on Eric O’Flaherty late in the year, and he was worse than Torres. Their one left-handed pitcher who made the full season was Sean Gilmartin, who was the long man in the bullpen, and he actually had reverse splits.
The reason why the Mets were able to make it work was because the team had right-handed relievers who pitched well against left-handed pitching. In fact, if you just looked at the splits and ignored the handedness of the pitchers, you would believe each one of them was actually a LOOGY:
- Jeurys Familia .214/.291/.325
- Hansel Robles .167/.214/.346
- Erik Goeddel .189/.250/.270
- Logan Verrett .200/.293/.388
- Tyler Clippard .136/.229/.236
When you boil it down, who cares if the pitcher is right-handed, left-handed, or Pat Venditte? The goal is to get batters out, and you want the pitcher most effective at getting those outs on the mound. If you look at the current Mets bullpen, the team has right-handed pitchers who have had success against left-handed hitters:
Right there, your three most trusted relievers are pitchers you trust to get left-handed batters out in pressure situations. Delving into their young right-handed power arms, Tyler Bashlor and Eric Hanhold have also posted good numbers against left-handed hitters. This also overlooks Daniel Zamora who utilized his excellent spin rates to hold left-handed hitters to a .222 batting average against during his brief time in the majors.
Assuming the Mets go with Zamora and one of their young right-handed power arms, the 2019 Mets bullpen will have five pitchers who pitch well against left-handed hitters. Adding another arm to address getting left-handed hitters out is superfluous. Moreover, when you look at how Mickey Callaway uses his bullpen combined with this being an era of increased bullpen use, you really have to question the wisdom of having two of your seven relievers dedicated to getting one batter out a game.
Ultimately, this should be about getting the best relievers you possibly can. If that reliever happens to be left-handed, great. Certainly, someone like a Justin Wilson is good against right and left-handed batters. However, if that guy is Tony Sipp or someone of his ilk, you really have to wonder why this team would limit the manager and tax the better arms in the bullpen to get just two batters out per game. Really, when you break it down, the Mets need better, not more limited, arms.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, the New York Mets are not pursuing Manny Machado this offseason as they “don’t see him as the right player to spend big on.” While this may create an uproar amongst Mets fans and Mets critics, the is 100% the correct move for the Mets franchise. There are several reasons why:
- Machado only wants to play shortstop, and as we saw with Kazuo Matsui displacing Jose Reyes, moving Amed Rosario off shortstop is a bad idea;
- With David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets already have two $100 million players. You don’t need three.
- Carlos Beltran was the last under 30 year old who the Mets signed to a $100 million contract. Do we really want the Mets to sign someone who is just going to strike out looking anyway?
- The last Orioles shortstop to play for the Mets was Mike Bordick, and he hit .260/.321/.365 in 56 regular season games with the Mets before getting benched for Kurt Abbott in the World Series.
- With Jack Reinheimer, the Mets already have a 25 year old shortstop.
- Infamously, Timo Perez did not hustle in the World Series. After the World Series, Perez would hit .275/.311/.394 with the Mets. If that’s what we can expect from players who do not hustle in the postseason, giving Machado a megadeal will be a disaster.
- The Mets gave Ronny Mauricio a $2.1 million signing bonus. You cannot give him that type of bonus and then block his path to the majors by giving Machado a huge contract.
- For the price of Machado, you can sign eyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Oliver Perez, Rene Rivera, Devin Mesoraco, Lucas Duda, Carlos Gomez, Eric Young, Jr., Chris Young, Tyler Clippard, and still have room to make strong offers to Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson.
- Machado, like Alex Rodriguez, will prove to be a 24+1 player, and you cannot possibly win with an A-Rod on your team.
- It will be hard to free up the funds to sign him with the Mets still paying Bobby Bonilla.
So really, when you break it down and look at the reasons, the better question is why should the Mets even consider signing Machado?
It may be every fan base, but it seems like whenever the Mets need to add players via trade or free agency, fans seem to look towards acquiring former players. It may not be just the fans either as the Mets bucked conventional wisdom by signing Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas last year. If the fans and organization wants to go down that road again, there are plenty of options this offseason:
Jose Lobaton – If he’s back, we may actually see fans boycott the team.
Devin Mesoraco – Other than like a one week stretch, he was terrible in every facet of the game. There is no way he should be back in Queens next year.
Rene Rivera – He would be a fine addition on a minor league deal to work with up and comers like Justin Dunn. If there’s an injury or two (ideally three), he could resume his role as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.
Lucas Duda – Fans used to debate at length whether Duda was a good or bad player. The debate is over. He’s now a bad player who has not much to offer anymore.
Asdrubal Cabrera – Unless Cabrera is looking to accept a utility role behind two still largely unproven young players, there would be no reason to bring him back to the Mets.
Daniel Murphy – There is a scenario in which bringing him back makes sense, but that includes the Mets moving at least one bad contract to put him at first base because his knees have made his already poor defense all the worse. There are many other variables past that making this a non-starter.
Jose Reyes – He shouldn’t even be playing for the Long Island Ducks next year.
Neil Walker – Considering he accepted a utility role for the Yankees last year, he could be willing to accept one with the Mets next year. If so, he could be quality depth for the Mets roster which has not had depth on their bench since 2015.
Carlos Gomez – Judging from last year, it does not seem like Gomez can hit much anymore, but he can still play defense. The Mets need a right-handed outfielder or two, and he would be a much better option than Austin Jackson by the simple fact he’s not Austin Jackson.
Chris Young – In 2014, the Mets made a $7.25 million bet Young still had something in the tank. They wound up releasing him, thereby allowing other teams to discover he did have something left in the tank. That something was hitting left-handed pitching, which is something he didn’t do at all last year.
Austin Jackson – He used up all the playing time he should receive in a Mets uniform last year.
Curtis Granderson – With Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo, you could argue the Mets have no need for another left-handed hitting corner outfielder. Lost in all of that is the fact Granderson is still a productive player who is great in the clubhouse. It would not be the worst idea to bring him back to let him serve as a mentor to the Mets young players.
Bartolo Colon – If you want him back, you deserve to see the Mets go under .500 again.
Matt Harvey – Harvey has basically said he doesn’t want to return. If you ask the Mets, the feelings are probably mutual.
Chris Beck – He was terrible for the Mets last year, so if you’re upgrading your bullpen, you should probably avoid the guys who were terrible for you.
Tyler Clippard – He had surprisingly good stats last year, which is all the more incredible when you consider he pitched in the AL East. Signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training is not the worst idea in the world.
Jeurys Familia – Familia is the best right-handed reliever in Mets history, and unlike the other free agent relief options not named David Robertson, none of them have proven they can pitch in pressure situations in New York. If you’re looking to compete, Familia could be a big boost to the bullpen.
AJ Ramos – The main reason Ramos didn’t work out this year was because he was injured. He did have surgery to repair his shoulder, but we don’t know what he will be when he is ready to pitch again. The Mets need far more certainty than that from their bullpen.
Fernando Salas – Salas helped pitch the Mets to the 2016 Wild Card, and the thanks he received was getting over-used by Terry Collins to the point he was released by the Mets in 2017. He returned to a slightly below average reliever last year. The Mets have plenty of those already.
Jerry Blevins – Even with last year’s struggles, Blevins has traditionally been a good LOOGY for the Mets. If Dave Eiland and Mickey Callaway think he can return to form, and he signs a reasonable one year deal, the Mets should bring him back.
Oliver Perez – If Brodie Van Wagenen had a sense of humor, he would work out a contract with either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but the day before the Mets officially signs either one of them, the Mets would announce Ollie was returning to the Mets organization.
Back in 2011, Jose Reyes would lay down a bunt single to preserve his batting title. The first in Mets history. After reaching safely, Reyes would be lifted from the game much to the consternation of Mets fans. Much of the consternation eminated from the fact it looked like this was going to be the last time fans were going to get to see Reyes in a Mets jersey, and those fans wanted to see Reyes play just one last time and say good-bye.
Sunday, Reyes was in the lineup once again leadoff in what many believed to be his final game as a Met. Reyes would take one at-bat, ground out, and he would walk off the field for a final time. While the circumstances may seem to mirror what transpired seven years prior, the two situations could not have been more different.
During Reyes’ first stint with the Mets, he was the most electrifying player in the Majors. He could turn anything into extra bases, and extra base hits were nanoseconds away from becoming triples. When he was on the basepaths, he was a constant stolen base threat, and his dancing at third base helped entice a few balks leading to a run. Reyes was so dynamic we came up with the term “Reyes Run” for him getting on, getting over, and getting in.
Reyes was more than a dynamic offensive force. He was a shortstop with a bullet arm and a fan favorite. His apparent joy on the field was infectious to the fan base, and it did seem to get the team going. (Sometimes, like 2007, it would also motivate the opponents). Mets fans would shower him with the “Jose!” chant (a chant which began Saturday, March 29, 2003). We loved him, and he seemingly loved us too.
In 2011, you could argue it was he and not David Wright whom the Mets should keep. After all, Reyes was the younger player, and Citi Field was built more to Reyes’ than Wright’s strengths. Whatever the case, the Mets opted not to re-sign him, devastating a fan base, and having the organization a nd fans looking for a new fan favorite. Arguably, no one could fill that void like the way Reyes once did.
That was the Reyes who left New York after the 2011 season. That Reyes was barely recognizable after leaving.
After one year in Miami, he was traded to the Blue Jays as part of that organization’s efforts to return to the postseason. In 2015, in Reyes’ third year as a Blue Jay, it seemed the organization’s plans were coming to fruition. They were competing for a postseason spot with hopes for the division. It was time for a bold move, their GM Alex Anthopoulos made that bold move. In a six player trade, Reyes was traded to the Blue Jays for LaTroy Hawkins and Troy Tulowitzki.
In a year, Reyes and the Mets were supposed to return to the postseason, Reyes instead found himself playing for the Colorado Rockies. He didn’t want to be there, and the team didn’t want him. This also meant instead of playing in the postseason, Reyes would be making vacation plans to go to Hawaii.
On October 31, 2015, Michael Conforto hit two homers. Instead of going to Jeurys Familia for the six out save, Terry Collins brought in Tyler Clippard, who walked two of the three batters he faced. When Familia finally did come in, Daniel Murphy booted a grounder. The Mets 3-2 lead would quickly become a 5-3 deficit.
While this was happening, Jose Reyes would throw his wife into a glass door in Hawaii. His wife would need to be taken to a nearby hospital to treat her injuries, and Reyes would be arrested. Reyes faced not just prison time but also deportation. Instead, because his wife did not cooperate with prosecutors, the changes would be dropped.
While Reyes was able to avoid legal troubles, he could not escape MLB punishment. With a new Domestic Violence policy, Reyes would be suspended 51 games, which stands as the longest Domestic Violence suspension to date. With the Rockies already wanting to transition to Trevor Story, they were more than happy to release Reyes.
Fortunately for Reyes, the Mets needed a third baseman. Wright was injured again, and he was going to miss the rest of the season. Eric Campbell, Matt Reynolds, Wilmer Flores, and Kelly Johnson just weren’t to cut it. Partially due to desperation and partially due to nostalgia, the Mets threw Reyes the rope none of the other 28 teams were likely willing to give him.
A fan base was divided. While the “Jose!” chants returned, they did not have the same enthusiasm. Some of the people most willing to lead the cheer would sit on their hands or boo. Reyes beat his wife, and the Mets signing him was sending the wrong message.
Still, Reyes stayed, and he played reasonably well. He would have some highlights including the September 22nd game where both he and Asdrubal Cabrera homered which helped turn a 6-4 loss into a dramatic 9-8 11 inning victory which helped propel the Mets into the top Wild Card. Much like in his last postseason game with the Mets, Reyes went hitless as his team was eliminated at home.
In the subsequent two years, he was about the worst players in baseball. Despite all of Collins’ efforts to get him going, Reyes floundered, and there would be reports he was not happy playing third base. At the end of the 2017 season, he helped reinvent himself as a mentor to Amed Rosario. Between that and his hitting in September, the Mets brought him back.
He was dreadful this year hitting .189/.260/.320. He’d post a -0.8 WAR. Worse yet, he would complain about his playing time. He believed as a utility player he should have received more playing time, and really, without that playing time, the Mets were not giving him a chance to succeed. While there were some who were able to compartmentalize the off the field issues, when he was bad on the field, more and more Mets fans were disenchanted with him.
However, despite the ever growing calls to release him and make way for more talented prospects like Jeff McNeil, the Mets stubbornly held onto him. They treated him like one of the Mets greats, which he was in the first part of his career. Against all odds, Reyes would last the full season with the Mets. It allowed him to play alongside Wright in the Captain’s final game.
It also meant Reyes would get to leadoff in what is likely his final career game. Between innings, the Mets showed a video tribute. Reyes would emerge from the dugout to tip his cap to a standing ovation.
The crowd was much smaller than the sold out crowd who was there to see Wright’s final game. The standing ovation Reyes received did not remotely compare to the one Wright received. If you went back a decade, that would seem implausible as both were beloved players with Reyes being the one who probably generated more enthusiasm from the fans.
Personally, I loved Reyes. The first player jersey I ever purchased was Mike Piazza, the second Wright, and the third Reyes. Overall, I had more Reyes shirseys than any other player including a last season at Shea and first season at Citi one. That Reyes was the most exciting player who ever played for the Mets. When he went to Colorado, I still believed he had an outside shot at the Hall of Fame.
After he left, I was left livid with the organization. In no way should Wright and Reyes have ever been split up. Like great Mets duos of the past, Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman and Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, it seemed like their destiny was to win a World Series together. Between that, Flores’ struggles at short and Ruben Tejada not being a particularly good baseball player, I desperately wanted the Mets to make a trade with the Rockies to bring back Reyes for that 2015 run.
To this day, part of me wonders what would have happened if Reyes did return to the Mets in 2015. Do they win that World Series, or do they still fall short? Would Reyes and his contract stood in the way of Yoenis Cespedes returning? Mostly, I wonder about that night.
While statistics prove differently, to this day, I hope it was an isolated incident, which could have been avoided by Reyes being in New York instead of Hawaii. In the converse, maybe this was a pattern of behavior which grew increasingly violent, and perhaps, things could have been hidden for longer if he was never in Hawaii. There is no way of knowing anything. What we do know is that instead of being in New York, Reyes was in Hawaii where he forever changed his legacy by committing a vile act.
Because of all of this, I was initially irritated Reyes was sharing Wright’s spotlight, but I made peace with it because it was what Wright wanted.
At the sake of sounding hypocritical, I must admit seeing Reyes doubling and moving to third on a sacrifice bunt was exciting. Wright coming up to the plate in an RBI situation was exciting. Wright being able to drive Reyes home just one last time made the moment all the more special.
In all honesty, I was surprised nostalgia got the better of me in the moment.
Perhaps it is because I truly miss the Reyes of 2003 – 2011. I just miss how fun it was to watch him play.
That fun completely disappeared when he returned. He was no longer a young up and coming superstar. He was a violent wife beater. Some people may be able to compartmentalize it, but I wasn’t. Certainly not for a player I once held in the highest of regards.
Now that is career is over, I honestly do wish Reyes well. I want him and his family to be able to move on from the domestic violence to have a happy and safe home life. If that happens, then no matter how much I was against it, Reyes returning to the Mets was worth it. I will be happy if Reyes returning to a place he was loved and cared for led him to not only seek help but to end what might have been a pattern of abuse. Hopefully, he is a better husband and father for the experience.
In the end, congratulations to Reyes on a great career. You are the greatest shortstop in Mets history. The memories of you and Wright playing together were some of the best I’ve had as a fan. Rooting for you was never the same, and it will never be the same again. Still, each and every Mets fan, including myself, wish you and your family well.
God bless the Reyes family.
Entering the season, Yoenis Cespedes made the bold declaration the 2018 Mets were better than the 2015 Mets. Now, if you recall that 2015 team, it did feature players like Eric Campbell and John Mayberry. However, those players were not on the team at the same time as Cespedes. When Cespedes joined the Mets, he was on a much better roster, a roster which went all the way to the World Series.
With that consideration, it is certainly bold for Cespedes to make that declaration, but is he right? Let’s take a look:
Just looking at those names, you may be quick to think not much has changed in the catching situation. In reality, everything is different, and the main difference is these catchers stand on much different footing.
The 2015 season was d’Arnaud’s best as a player with him posting a 126 OPS+ and emerging as an elite pitch framer. Plawecki was overmatched at the plate, but he did handle the pitching staff exceptionally well. Since that time, both had gone on to disappoint in 2016 and much of 2017.
Things changed at the tail end of 2017. Plawecki finally looked like the player the Mets once thought he would become. d’Arnaud would finish the season with a strong September. As a result, they will look to begin the 2018 season in a unique time sharing agreement designed to keep both healthy and effective all year long.
VERDICT: 2018 – if both replicate their Septembers, this won’t even be close
2015: Lucas Duda
2018: Adrian Gonzalez
In 2015, Duda hit .244/.352/.486 with 27 homers and 73 RBI. He was as streaky as he ever was unable to carry the team when they needed his bat most, and he almost single-handedly beat the Nationals in a key late July series.
Gonzalez is coming off the worst year of his career, and he is still dealing with back issues which requires him to warm up two hours before the game starts.
VERDICT: 2015 – Gonzalez may not be around long enough to make a bad throw
We got a glimpse of what Murphy would became with him slugging .533 over the final two months of the season. Even with the increased power, no one could predict the home run barrage he’d unleash in the postseason.
For his part, Cabrera finds himself at second a year after protesting moving there or anywhere. He’s been a good hitter with the Mets, and he’s been terrific in the clutch. We’ll see if the injuries will permit him to be that again.
VERDICT: 2015 – Murphy’s postseason was an all-time great one
This was really the last hurrah for Wright in a Mets uniform. He was very good in the 30 games he played after coming off the DL hitting .277/.381/.437. He’d hit two emotional homers: (1) his first at-bat since coming off the DL; and (2) his first World Series at-bat at Citi Field.
Frazier has been a solid to somewhat underrated player. Over the last three years, he’s averaged 34 homers, 88 RBI, and a 110 OPS+. He’s been a good fielder averaging a 5 DRS over that stretch.
VERDICT: 2018 – Frazier is no Wright, but he’s healthy
Tejada was not supposed to be the starting shortstop in 2015. After wasting a few chances which led to Omar Quintanilla getting the bulk of the playing time over him, the Mets moved on to Flores. Eventually, Collins and the Mets went back to Tejada because: (1) he had steadier hands; and (2) he had a .362 OBP in the second half. Who knows how everything would have turned out had Chase Utley not broken his leg with a dirty slide/tackle.
Rosario is the future of the Mets. Yes, there are flaws in his game like his very low walk rate. However, this is a uniquely gifted player who is dedicated to being better. He’s electric, and he’s got the skill set to be a superstar for a very long time. For now, we will settle for him being a good defensive shortstop who brings real speed and upside to the table.
VERDICT: 2018 – Rosario’s ceiling is just way too high
Cespedes was just an otherworldly player when he joined the Mets. Despite his only being a Met for a few months, he finished in the Top 15 in MVP voting. Really, the MVP for the Mets that year was Granderson who was a leader in the clubhouse on the lineup. He had the most homers from a lead-off hitter, and he was a Gold Glove finalist. Conforto jumped from Double-A to post a 133 wRC+ and a much better than expected 9 DRS in left.
With respect to the 2018 outfield, we see Conforto is a much better play (when healthy), and Cespedes is nowhere near as good as he was when he joined the Mets. To be fair, there’s no way he could, but he’s still an All Star caliber player. This means the main difference between the squads is Bruce and Granderson.
VERDICT: 2015 – That Cespedes was just that much better.
From the moment Uribe and Johnson joined the Mets, they were game changers. They both brought a winning attitude and game winning hits. In addition to the two of them, Lagares was the defensive specialist, a role to which he is best suited, and Cuddyer was a platoon partner with either Conforto or Duda depending on whether Lagares started the game as well. Overall, it was a veteran bench who provided needed leadership.
The Mets current bench is similar to the 2015 bench with Reyes trying to emulate the Uribe role even if he’s not as productive a player. Flores is Flores, but a better hitter, and believe it or not, a worse fielder. Lagares rediscovered his range he lost in 2015. Nimmo should be in the everyday lineup and leading off, but early indications are he won’t.
VERDICT: 2015 – Uribe and Johnson were just that important
When you consider Vargas was basically brought in to replicate what Colon did in 2015, the question is whether you believe the Mets top four starters are better as a group now or then. Looking at it objectively, Syndergaard is the only one who has improved with no one knowing what Harvey and Matz can still provide.
VERDICT: 2015 – they were just healthier then
2015: Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jon Niese, Sean Gilmartin, Erik Goeddel
2018: Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald
Familia was that good in 2015 that he was able to cover many of the warts in the 2015 bullpen. This resulted in Collins using him for multiple innings more than any other closer that year. Reed would begin his emergence as a great reliever, but a back injury would cost Clippard of his effectiveness. One surprise was Niese performing well as a lefty in the bullpen.
When you include Sewald’s Triple-A experience, this is a bullpen with three closers, six pitchers with closer’s stuff, and a very good LOOGY in Blevins. Even if Familia is not as good as he was in 2015, it won’t matter because there is enough depth here for the Mets to not need to rely upon him as much.
VERDICT: 2018 – they’re just deeper and with more upside
For all the warts and problems Mets fans discovered with Collins, he had his finest year as a manager in 2015. When the ship could have sunk multiple times, he pulled the team together and kept things afloat until the team got healthy and reinforcements arrived. Of course, he followed this up by helping cost the Mets the World Series with a series of baffling decisions which all blew up in the Mets faces.
Right now, Callaway looks like a genius. He’s innovative batting Cespedes second and Rosario ninth. He came down hard on Dominic Smith for being late. His players seem to love him, and the baseball world roundly believes the Mets made an excellent hire. However, the season isn’t even a week old. Even if everyone is a fan at the moment, let’s check back in a couple of months to see if he’s an innovative genius or if he’s a know-it-all who can’t leave good enough alone.
Verdict: 2018 – Collins did cost the Mets a World Series
If you break it down, the 2015 Mets were better at first, second, outfield, bench, and rotation. The 2018 version is better at catcher, third, short, bullpen, and manager. Looking at the breakdown, you can say it’s a 5-5 draw. However, in reality, it’s not. That 2015 team pitching rotation was just so dominant, and hypothetically, if these teams were going to step on the same field, the 2015 rotation would dominate the 2018 version.
That said, there is a lot of talent on this 2018 team, and from what we have seen so far, this is a roster tailor made to what we presume is Callaway’s talents as a manager. If Callaway is indeed as good as we hope it will be, we can see him and Dave Eiland taking this pitching staff as a whole to the next level. If that can happen, and with a little help, this Mets team could accomplish what the 2015 version didnt – win the World Series.
It was a dark night with a faint glow surrounding the crowd. Then, from out of a dark cave emerged an old man. On first glance, this old man seemed like a cheery old fellow, but once you looked deep into his eyes, you would discover he would have the most sinister of intentions.
With one scribble across his spell book and one gesture with his hand, he would take the young hero and cast him into a pit never to return. With next, he would summon a bespectacled robot with the most dastardly of intentions. The robot would open up his right arm and he would spread pestilence across the field spreading despair amongst the masses.
By the time our new hero arrived it was too late. He and his friends would be unable to curb the tide set forth by the sinister old man and his evil robot. It was as if a spell was cast preventing them from doing the simplest of activities. Soon, the heroes would be too outnumbered, and they would fall to defeat. Soon, the dim glow that surrounded everyone would go out as the dejected masses fled hoping one day to return to this place and claim victory . . . victory that would never come.
Of course, this is an attempt at portraying Game 4 of the 2015 World Series in an eerie way. In some ways, this fails because what happened was far more horrifying.
Entering the top of the eighth, the Royals were down just one run, and they had the top of their lineup due up. Considering how frequently Collins used Jeurys Familia for six out saves during the regular season, and considering how up to that point, Familia had allowed just three hits and one run that entire postseason, this was the spot for him. The Mets needed six outs from Familia to ensure they would tie the series up 2-2. With the Mets having Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard lined up after that, and with the Royals having lost Game 7 at home the prior year, it seemed like the Mets were in a good position to claim the World Series.
Instead, Collins would go to Tyler Clippard. Up until that point, Clippard had a 5.06 ERA and a 1.411 WHIP in six postseason appearances. This was the same Clippard who dealt with a back issue late in the season and would have a 6.14 ERA and 1.295 WHIP in the month of September. More than that, batters were hitting him hard to the tune of a .268/.323/.536 batting line.
This was decidedly not the pitcher you wanted in this spot. However, this was the direction Collins went. The reason was two fold. The first was this was the formula since the Mets obtained Clippard prior to the trade deadline. Worse than that was the stated reason. Collins said he didn’t want to use Familia for six outs because he appeared the night before in Game 3.
Instead of Hansel Robles, Sean Gilmartin, or really anyone else, Collins tabbed his closer to close out a six run lead. As we watched in horror in Game 4, the ripple effect of that decision was too much to bear.
With that decision, Collins altered the outcome of the World Series, and quite possibly cost the Mets a chance at winning the 2015 World Series. After that we have seen injury after injury after injury. Quite possibly, this makes Game 4 of the World Series the scariest of all Halloween tales.
If you don’t believe me, try this. Instead of putting on the scariest Halloween movie you can think of tonight, try re-watching Game 4 of the World Series.
There are probably some logistical issues I’m missing here, but it seems to me the Mets and 28 other teams are missing an opportunity by not having their ballparks open for children on Halloween.
As we have seen, there are different levels of opening up the ballpark. For paid entry events like a concert or the NYC Bacon and Beer Classic, you are permitted entry within Citi Field. For other events like the annual Coat Drive, a portion of Citi Field is open like the Team Store. For others, we have seen either the Rotunda being open or just tables set up on the perimeter of the ballpark. Whatever, the case, there is a space where fans could bring their children to Trick or Treat.
For the children, it would be a safer environment to do their Trick or Treating. There’s far less of a concern about the various concerns that surround Halloween from cars driving down the road, tampered candy, and for some, bullies. There are also children who are deprived of the joys of Trick or Treating just by a function of their not living in a safe neighborhood.
For all of these children, it would also present an opportunity to go to Citi Field, which is the home of their favorite baseball team.
How teams want to organize it would be entirely up to them. You could have some current or former players. You could skip the players and just have a mascot like Mr. Met. There could be a best costume or best baseball costume event. Really, the door is wide open.
It would also be a good fundraising opportunity. This could be done as an early food drive for Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you bring a can, you have the opportunity to go Trick or Treating at Citi Field. It could also be an extension of baseball’s RBI Program.
As for what gets passed out, it doesn’t really matter so long as it is a fun event. Children want candy on Halloween, but they would also be happy to receive stickers, tattoos, baseball cards, or really anything fun. If teams do this right, there will be a number of sponsors at the ready willing to participate. Likely, these sponors will hand out both candy and swag in the form of a trick or treat bag or other Halloween related items.
If done properly, there is no real downside to this, and it helps grow the game with young fans who will certainly look back and fondly remember their days Trick or Treating at Citi Field. Certainly, Mets fans can use a Citi Field Halloween memory other than Terry Collins leaving in Steven Matz too long, his going to Tyler Clippard instead of Jeurys Familia to start the eighth, and Daniel Murphy booting an Eric Hosmer grounder.
Overall, unless there are some logistics with the city or with Major League Baseball, this is something the Mets and the other teams not hosting a World Series game should definitely look to do for their young fans.
If not Major League teams, at least minor league teams like the Brooklyn Cyclones.
One of the things that was discussed often by John Smoltz, and really people everywhere was how Dave Roberts chose to manage Game Two of the World Series. The end result of those moves was Brandon McCarthy, who was added to the World Series roster in place of Curtis Granderson, made his first pitching appearance since October 1st. The end result was McCarthy allowing a two run homer to George Springer that ultimately decided the game.
Roberts had to go with McCarthy because he was his last reliever available as he went to his bullpen early in this game. Oh, and by the way, all hell broke loose after the seventh inning.
MARWIN IN THE 9TH! TIE GAME.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 26, 2017
JOSE ALTUVE FOR THE LEAD! https://t.co/0QfjirPq9o
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 26, 2017
— yulogy (@yuarerad) October 26, 2017
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 26, 2017
— José Juan Vázquez (@josejuangelv) October 26, 2017
In back and forth games like this, there is seemingly nothing a manager can do to stem the tide. Sure, it helps to have your best relievers available, but Roberts already used his. He was probably right to do so. To that end, here’s each move he made:
Top of the 5th, Dodgers Down 1-0
At this point in the game, Justin Verlander had a no-hitter going, and he looked every bit as hittable. At the time, Rich Hill limited the Astros to an Alex Bregman RBI single, but he was far from dominant allowing three hits and three walks. At this point, if you are going to win this game against Verlander, you’re really hoping someone runs into one to tie it and let your dominant bullpen win the day. For that to happen, you have to keep it as close as possible. As a result, going to Kenta Maeda was precisely the right move.
Top of the 6th, Game Tied 1-1
Joc Pederson did exactly what the Dodgers needed tying the game with a homer. After Maeda did his part keeping the Astros off the board in the fifth, he allowed a lead-off single to Carlos Correa. After a Guerriel pop-out, the Astros lineup was L-S-L, which called for a left-handed reliever. Roberts brought in Tony Watson, who did his job by getting Brian McCann to hit into the inning ending double play.
Top of the 7th, Dodgers Leading 3-1
Out of nowhere, Chris Taylor earned a two out walk, and Corey Seager hit a good pitch to give the Dodgers an improbable 3-1 lead. The team would have only two hits until extra innings, but they certainly made them count. To try to hold the lead, Roberts, who had pinch hit for Watson in the sixth, went to Ross Stripling.
If you want to ding Roberts, this is the spot. After Stripling allowed a lead-off walk to Marwin Gonzalez, Roberts pulled Stripling from the game. Apparently, he was not willing to let the game get out of hand, so he instead brought in Brandon Morrow, who induced Josh Reddick to hit into a double play to prevent the inning from escalating.
Top of the 8th, Dodgers Leading 3-1
Roberts tried to get some extra outs out of Morrow, who only threw nine pitches in the seventh. After a Bregman ground rule double just out of the reach of Puig, Roberts didn’t take chances. He went to Kenley Jansen, who has been as dominant a postseason closer we have ever seen this side of Mariano Rivera.
Yes, the Astros would get one back here, and they would tie the game on an unlikely Gonzalez homer off Jansen, but as any Mets fan that saw Tyler Clippard set the stage for disaster in Game 4 of the World Series, it was the right move.
In the end, Roberts went full bore for this win with a day off today giving his pitchers an extra day of rest. He had the pitcher you wanted on the mound to close out the game to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. Just because Jansen failed doesn’t mean Roberts was wrong. Rather, it means it didn’t work. Those aren’t always the same thing.
If the Dodgers win, we’re talking about Roberts the genius. Fact is, we still should be because he did a great job getting his team on the precipice of a 2-0 series lead.