Walker Lockett

Conforto Keeps Mets Alive For One More Day

Make tonight about Noah Syndergaard struggling against the Marlins even with him having Tomas Nido behind the plate. Certainly, that’s an area for discussion with him taking the loss after allowing four earned over five innings.

While everyone was handwringing and sending shots Syndergaard’s way, Sandy Alcantara and the Marlins pitching shut down the Mets offense. This was a night after Caleb Smith and the Marlins staff largely shut down the Mets offense.

Yesterday, it was an Amed Rosario grand slam. Today, it was a Michael Conforto two run homer in tonight’s 4-2 loss.

It was Walker Lockett pitching yesterday, and it was Chris Mazza tonight. It’s unfair to call that giving up, and yet, you’d have to come up with some sort of alternative explanation as to why they’d be in the game.

Ultimately, this had the same feel as the Marlins inexplicably sweeping the Mets in June. The Mets looked like the 100 loss team, and the Marlins the team scratching and clawing for the postseason. That’s how the 2007 and 2008 seasons ended. With the Mets tragic number at one, it seemed like that’s how the 2019 season would end.

That was until Conforto came up in the bottom of the ninth with a man on, and he literally hit the homer which saved the Mets season.

If the Mets lost, they were officially eliminated from postseason contention. While that day may come tomorrow, it didn’t happen today because Conforto game up with two huge two run homers to tie the score 4-4.

As improbable as that was, something all the more impossible happened.

In the bottom of the 11th, Conforto drew a leadoff walk leading to Don Mattingly bringing in Jeff Brigham to replace Adam Conley.

Brigham would plunk Rosario, and he’s throw a wild pitch leading to his walking Todd Frazier intentionally to load the bases.

Mattingly brought in five infielders due to Wilson Ramos‘ ground ball tendencies. The move seemed to pay off as Starlin Castro would make a great play on a slow hopper up the line. He’d barehand it and flip it just ahead of Conforto.

For some reason, the Marlins kept the five infielders in against Brandon Nimmo. It didn’t matter with Nimmo doing what he does best – drawing a walk. This walk forced home a run giving the Mets a true walk off win.

The end result of the 5-4 win wasn’t just the Mets staying alive for at least one more day. It meant Paul Sewald would get the win after starting his career 0-14.

Game Notes: Before the game, the Mets announced Jerry Koosman‘s number 36 would be retired next season. In response to the announcement, Mickey Callaway switched his number to Kevin Plawecki‘s old 26.

Mickey Callaway Screwed Up, Brodie Van Wagenen Screwed Up More

The New York Mets completely blew it last night. Behind that loss was a a number of players failing. Todd Frazier couldn’t get a hit in two key RBI situations. Steven Matz allowed a grand slam. Brad Brach failed to cover first in time. There’s obviously more.

Behind the players failing was a number of questionable to flat out indefensible decisions from Mickey Callaway.

Callaway should not have let Matz face Jorge Alfaro. With the team having zero margin for error, you cannot use Walker Lockett under any circumstance. There’s no saving the top arms in the bullpen to fight for another day because if you lose, there isn’t going to be another day.

There were other decisions like not starting Brandon Nimmo or allowing Michael Conforto to bat against Brian Moran. You could also question using Rajai Davis as a pinch hitter in the sixth over Nimmo. To be fair, these decisions were mitigated by Juan Lagares going 1-for-3 with a run and a walk, and Amed Rosario hitting a grand slam.

The pinch hitting decisions were mitigated by the actual options available. Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera are not good hitters. Jed Lowrie hasn’t had a hit in his limited pinch hitting appearances, and he has just one right-handed at-bat all year. That’s it for the right-handed bench options against the left-handed pitching the Marlins had out there in the form of Caleb Smith and Moran.

It certainly makes you question why the Mets never made a roster move to add Dilson Herrera to the roster. After all, they lost Eric Hanhold so they can have Chris Mazza and Donnie Hart on the roster, neither of whom have pitched one meaningful inning in September.

Taking that into consideration, you have to look at the bullpen again. Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson are the only reliable arms down there. You can trust Brach against right-handed batters but not left, and vice versa for Luis Avilan. After that, it’s a straight roll of the dice. Sadly, it’s a heavily weighted pair of dice putting the odds stacked against the Mets.

Reliever ERA
Jeurys Familia 6.00
Drew Gagnon 8.74
Walker Lockett 7.66
Tyler Bashlor 7.65
Paul Sewald 4.67
Chris Mazza 6.43
Brad Brach 3.95
Daniel Zamora 5.63
Donnie Hart 0.00

Look at those ERAs again. Lockett wasn’t even the worst ERA available in the bullpen last night. He wasn’t the only one with an ERA over 5.00. In fact, taking away the top two relievers, there were only three relievers with an ERA under that mark, and one of those, Hart, has only pitched 1.0 innings.

Put aside for a moment the Mets entered the season with Tim Peterson in the bullpen putting the team 1-2 relievers short to start the season. At the trade deadline, the Mets went out and got Marcus Stroman, and they didn’t back it up with another move. Sure, they got Brach, but he fell into their laps. It wasn’t a proactive move on the Mets part.

The bench has always been an issue too. We have seen the Mets cycle through Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, Carlos Gomez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Ruben Tejada while rage cutting Travis d’Arnaud. Again, the Mets did little to address this at the trade deadline with Joe Panik falling into their laps like Brach did.

This team was ill constructed from the get-go, and for some reason when the Mets doubled down at the trade deadline, they did nothing to fix their two biggest problems – the bench and the bullpen.

Now, it’s possible a very good manager like Terry Francona or Bruce Bochy could’ve navigated their way around these problems, but we know Callaway couldn’t. The Mets knowing that and handing him a roster which feeds into his deficiencies as a manager makes what Brodie Van Wagenen did all the worse.

So, yes, Callaway screwed up yesterday, and he has screwed up in other spots. But make no mistake, this was largely the result of the roster he was given. For that, Brodie Van Wagenen should shoulder the blame he was absolutely unwilling to accept earlier in the year.

Mets Season Will Have No Miracle

The Mets had a shot at pulling off the impossible because the schedules presented the opportunity. For the Mets, they just needed to beat up on the Marlins.

Instead, we got a game full of Tom Glavine, Dontrelle Willis, Scott Schoeneweis, Wes Helms, and well, you get the idea.

The Mets moved Steven Matz to tonight because he was better at home than the road. That was true until tonight.

Jorge Alfaro homered in the second. Jon Berti doubled in the third, and he scored on a Miguel Rojas RBI single. That was an inning after Berti robbed Michael Conforto of a homer (or an extra base hit).

Matz put up some zeros as Caleb Smith shut down the Mets offense. Part of that was getting Todd Frazier out in big spots. He got Frazier out with the bases loaded and two outs in the first, and he then got him with runners at first and second with two outs in the third.

Then a crazy sixth inning happened. You could see it was nearing the end of the line for Matz, and then he loaded the bases. Rather than go to the bullpen, Mickey Callaway stuck with Matz for one batter too many.

When Alfaro hit his grand slam, it looked like the Mets were dead in the water.

That’s when this Mets team once again showed us the character they have. The Mets loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, and Amed Rosario would hit his second career grand slam to make it a game again:

At 6-4, it was a brand new game. That’s what made the seventh inning so crushing.

For some reason, it was Walker Lockett to start the seventh. Perhaps, the reason was the other options were equally as uninspiring or being saved for a little later, but the overriding point is, Lockett was actually an option, and he was used.

Curtis Granderson walked to lead off the inning, and Berti got another hit. That prompted Callaway to go to Brad Brach. What makes this game all the more infuriating was Brach should’ve gotten out of the inning.

Brach got two outs before intentionally walking Alfaro to face Harold Ramirez. Ramirez grounded it to first, and he was initially ruled out. He wasn’t.

Brach started late and got there late. As a result, not only was Ramirez ruled safe, but two runs would score.

Yes, two. Apparently, because Berti was running hard, he was allowed to score on a play Brach could’ve thrown home but didn’t because of the wrong call by the first base umpire.

The Mets were down 8-4. They had a chance to score in the bottom of the seventh, but Conforto struck out against the tough LOOGY Brian Moran to end the inning.

The Mets did little to nothing in the eighth and ninth. There was not another miracle run. Not in this game, and apparently not in this season. Once again it was the Marlins the final week of the season, and it came not too long after Christian Colon delivered his own death blow.

In the end, it’s all just salt being rubbed in the wound.

Noah Syndergaard’s Time To Remind Everyone How Great He Is

This has not been the year anyone expected from Noah Syndergaard. This was supposed to be the year he took off, but he has a career worst ERA, FIP, ERA+, BB/9, and K/9. However, when you peel things back, he has shown flashes of being the pitcher he was in 2016.

There have been a number of issues Syndergaard has faced including the new ball, but the biggest has been Wilson Ramos. Ramos’ inability to frame the low pitch has really hindered Syndergaard’s ability to do what he does best. With Ramos has been behind the plate, he hasn’t been able to utilize that slider he debuted against the Royals in 2016. Instead, he’s been using his four seamer more, and he’s had to pitch up in the zone.

That has led to Syndergaard not being the great pitcher he has been in his career. With Ramos behind the plate, he has a 5.20 ERA. With Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera, it has been a completely different story. With Nido and Rivera, he has a 2.22 ERA.

In essence, with Ramos behind the plate, Syndergaard has pitched like Walker Lockett or Corey Oswalt. With Nido and Rivera, he has pitched like Jacob deGrom. No, that’s not a stretch. With catchers whose framing actually complement Syndergaard’s skill-set, he has pitched like a Cy Young caliber pitcher.

After all their pigheadedness, the Mets have opted it is better to help a pitcher succeed than to prop up one of the signature signings of the offseason. They have finally allowed Syndergaard to have what he needs to be successful. Of course, it Mets fashion, they finally relent when it’s Coors Field, and their relenting just so happens to coincide with a day game after a night game. Still, Rivera is going to catch Syndergaard.

The only time that has happened this year, Syndergaard pitched seven scoreless innings allowing just three hits and striking out 10 against a loaded Nationals lineup featuring Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, and Juan Soto. The last time Rivera caught Syndergaard in a big game, Syndergaard matched zeros with Madison Bumgarner for seven innings in the 2016 National League Wild Card Game.

This is the Syndergaard the Mets need. For that matter, Syndergaard needs to be that pitcher for himself to prove to the team he is still great, and they need to invest in him going forward. However, before the offseason, the Mets need to win today to keep their Wild Card hopes alive. The Mets and Syndergaard have exactly what they need for that to happen.

Mets Opted For Wilson Ramos Over Noah Syndergaard And Winning

The Mets are not interested in doing all they can do to grab the second Wild Card. No, they’d rather prove a point and send a message to Noah Syndergaard than do everything they can do to win a pivotal game.

Despite Syndergaard pitching like a Cy Young caliber pitcher with Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera behind the plate, the Mets started Wilson Ramos. After all, as an organization, you’d rather be invested in the 31 year old catcher than the 26 year old pitcher who is the last Mets pitcher to both win a World Series game and have a scoreless postseason start.

Well, as is usually the case, Ramos couldn’t get the low strikes, and as is typically the case, he wasn’t calling for Syndergaard to throw those pitches. The ball was elevated, his pitch count was going up, and eventually he hung one to Gavin Lux who hit a three run homer capping off a four run inning.

With Clayton Kershaw, it was game over. In his 12 year career, he’s lost just one game where he’s had four runs of support. He’s now 104-1. As was expected, he shut down the Mets offense because he’s Kershaw.

Throw in Jeurys Familia, Luis Avilan (why is he allowed to face RHB), and Walker Lockett getting roughed up to that tune of five runs combined along with the Mets only getting one home with the bases loaded in the seventh, you get a 9-2 loss.

That’s on a day the Cubs won pushing the Mets to 3.0 games back of the second Wild Card.

There were a couple of middle fingers to Syndergaard and the fans in this game from the Mets. Despite the purported need for Ramos to catch Syndergaard due to his offense, Juan Lagares would start, and Pete Alonso would sit. Finally, Nido would catch the ninth.

Hopefully, sending this message to Syndergaard was worth it. Judging by the score and losing a game in the standings, it wasn’t making this just a petty decision to cut their noses to spite their ace.

Game Notes: The Dodgers have won nine straight at Citi Field. That’s 10 straight if you include Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS.

Clutch Hitting Michael Conforto And Amed Rosario Key Mets Win

The Indians came to town, and there were many storylines. The Mets had their flurry of roster moves. Mickey Callaway was facing off against his mentor Terry Francona. Mostly, these were two teams fighting for a spot in their respective postseasons.

On this front, both teams would get terrific pitching performances, and when there is a pitcher’s duel like this, it’s the team who makes a mistake who loses. That mistake would come in the sixth.

Up until that point it was 2-2. Steven Matz was cruising following up his Braves start with an even better one. On the night, Jason Kipnis was the only Indian to get to him with a solo homer in the second and an RBI single in the fourth.

Overall, Matz pitched 6.1 innings allowing two runs (one earned thanks to a Todd Frazier error) on five hits and two walks while striking out seven. He would pick up the win because the Frazier error wasn’t the game changing error.

Like Matz, Shane Bieber was very good. He was very economical with his pitches, and for a while, it appeared he was going to go the distance. Really, his only mistake before the fateful sixth was his allowing a two run homer in the second to J.D. Davis.

In the sixth, Bieber has allowed those two runs. He began the inning retiring Amed Rosario, and he got Joe Panik to hit what should have been a harmless pop out to left. Instead, on the same day Luis Castillo was arrested in the Dominican Republic, Oscar Mercado dropped the ball.

For a moment, Bieber appeared to be getting out of the jam by striking out Pete Alonso. Then, Michael Conforto, who is maligned for not being clutch or not being considered a great player, hit a huge homer giving the Mets a 4-2 lead:

Unlike in Atlanta, Callaway let Matz start the seventh. Matz got himself into trouble allowing a one out single to Greg Allen and walking Franmil Reyes. Callaway went to Justin Wilson who came up huge striking out Francisco Lindor and Mercado. After that, the Mets blew the game wide open.

Frazier got the rally started with a single off Adam Cimber. After that, Juan Lagares, who has been taking much better at-bats of late, drew a walk. A failed sac bunt later led to Rosario with another huge hit with an RBI single expanding the Mets lead to 5-2.

Rosario just continues being a legitimately great player in the second half. He’s hitting, running the bases well, and playing good defense. Tonight, he was an impact player going 2-for-4 with a run, walk, and an RBI.

After the RBI single from Rosario, Panik would hit an RBI single, and Alonso hit an RBI double capping off a four run seventh. After not getting a sac bunt down earlier in the game, Davis would cap off his Uber ride with an RBI double in the eighth capping off the scoring and giving the Mets a 9-2 lead.

After seeing Callaway had no faith in Chris Mazza, Drew Gagnon, or Donnie Hart to wrap up blowouts, Callaway would trust Paul Sewald, and Sewald would pitch with higher velocity pitching a scoreless ninth preserving the 9-2 victory.

The Mets are once again five games over .500, and they’re once again poised to make a run. This is an important stretch, and the Mets are playing with a requisite sense of urgency. Things are getting interesting again.

Game Notes: Rajai Davis was selected from Syracuse, and Walker Lockett was sent down to add him to the roster. Brooks Pounders was designated for assignment to make room for Davis on the 40 man roster. Jed Lowrie began a rehab assignment as the DH for St. Lucie, and Brandon Nimmo is continuing his in Syracuse. Robert Gsellman was a partially torn lat.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Win A Series In Kansas City

The Mets went to Kansas City looking to sweep, and they wound up having to settle for less than that. Ultimately, they got the job done even if they did not perform well at all:

1. Alex Gordon may be the only Royals player remaining, but it was still good to see the Mets win a series in Kaufman Stadium, and it felt even better seeing Jeurys Familia get the win in a deciding game.

2. It’s also great to see Michael Conforto homer in a game against the Royals and not watch the Mets not blow the game. Seeing where Conforto hit that homer, we should have called that a Blue Moon Shot.

3. Congratulations to Pete Alonso for breaking Cody Bellinger‘s National League rookie home run record. He now joins Mark McGwire and Aaron Judge as the only rookies to hit 40 homers in a season. This has been a great ride, and he’s now in line to join Darryl Strawberry as the only other Mets position player to win Rookie of the Year.

4. It is criminal that when Alonso broke the record the call was made by Wayne Randazzo on the radio side and Gary Apple on the TV side. The Mets have all-time great broadcasters, and somehow that’s what we were left with for this great moment. Mets needs to do better when there are vacations.

5. There were two different times Alonso looked like he was going to break that record. The first ball was called foul, and to his credit, Alonso shook it off and delivered with a huge go-ahead two RBI single. The next time the ball actually hit the foul line towards the top of the right field wall. Many times we see people struggle or slump as they near a milestone; Alonso powered onward.

6. Jacob deGrom had his 12th start of the season pitching 7.0+ innings allowed two earned or fewer. That mark ties him with Hyun-Jin Ryu for the most in the Majors. This should only highlight how great deGrom has been this year and how deserving he is of another Cy Young.

7. Yes, Ryu is having a great year, but deGrom’s year is arguably better. For starters, deGrom has more innings pitched and strikeouts. Moreover, he has a higher K/9, K%, K-BB%, FIP, xFIP, fWAR, and bWAR while leading in other other categories as well.

8. One of the reasons the Mets took this series was Joe Panik playing great. Since joining the Mets, Panik is hitting .333/.379/.444 with a double, triple, and two RBI with two walks. On a side note, he was the second baseman when the Giants beat the Royals in the 2014 World Series.

9. With Jeff McNeil down, the Mets needed Panik to step up, and he has. The same goes for Juan Lagares, who has been the 2015 postseason version of Lagares who has hit .458/.458/.583 since August 13.

10. With the way Panik and Lagares are playing, it appears Todd Frazier is the guy who has to go to the bench. Since the All Star Break, he is hitting .192/.239/.377. If he’s hitting this way, he cannot be in the lineup.

11. Going forward, Frazier has hit .283/.359/.543 off left-handed pitching. To that end, he should work out a de facto platoon with Panik, and given his glove, he should be the third baseman when Marcus Stroman is on the mound. Short of that, he should be a power bat off the bench and late inning defensive replacement.

12. These two were needed all the more with J.D. Davis twice going down with a calf injury in this series. With how hot he’s been hitting, the Mets need his bat in the lineup, and they were without it in a series against the Royals. One side point here, good for Mickey Callaway for being cautious in taking him out rather than leaving him to run 90 feet.

13. Davis coming out of Sunday’s game forced Amed Rosario to play left field. It didn’t take long for the ball to find him, and the played the ball like he’s been out there all year. He also doubled in his only at-bat as an outfielder. Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise because Rosario has been legitimately great lately.

14. Since the All Star Break, Rosario has hit .368/.403/.544. He’s a 3 DRS at shortstop. When McNeil went down, he took over the leadoff spot, and he’s been hitting .333/.383/.535 in the leadoff spot. He is literally doing all that is being asked of him, and he is emerging as a legitimately great player. This has been a real joy to watch.

15. Rosario having to play left field only highlights the stupidity of the Mets going with Ruben Tejada over Dilson Herrera. What makes the move all the more hilariously stupid was the Mets justification for going with Tejada over Herrera was versatility. Between the two, Herrera is the only one with outfield experience. Since Tejada rejoined the Mets, he is 0-for-8 at the plate with two strikeouts and someone already a -0.3 WAR. Herrera is hitting .294/.368/.706 while playing second base and left field. Again, this decision made zero sense.

16. On the topic of baffling decisions, when Robert Gsellman landed on the Injured List, the Mets called up Walker Lockett over Chris Flexen. Between the two, Flexen has the better stuff, and he has experience pitching out of the bullpen.

17. One area where Callaway was criticized for making a baffling decision was using Edwin Diaz to get out of a bases loaded no out situation. While it was a near disaster with a grand slam overturned on replay, Diaz got out of the inning allowing just two runs. In his next appearance, he pitched a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts. Maybe, just maybe in the long run, this was a great decision by Callaway.

18. Zack Wheeler‘s start against the Royals was disappointing. That’s two straight disappointing five inning starts from him. This time, it was probably more bad luck than anything. However, this is his first real postseason race, so it will be interesting to see how he handles things in his next start.

19. The Mets would have been better off with a sweep, but they still won the series. They’re also just two games back of the second Wild Card. Overall, when looking at this stretch of six games, many are discounting just how hot and grueling that stretch of road games are in Atlanta and Kansas City along with their losing one of their hottest hitters.

20. Good for the White Sox for having Bill Walton and Michael Schur do color commentary with Steve Stone out. As noted on Saturday, that is what the Mets should have been doing by using the multitude of great local broadcasters and fans in Gary Cohen’s and Howie Rose’s absence. On a final note there, John Sadak did a great job on the radio. Here’s hoping there’s a spot for him in 2020.

Mets Sweep Doubleheader To Get Over .500

With it being a day game and Tomas Nido behind the plate, it was a mild disappointment Jacob deGrom didn’t throw a no-hitter in the first game of the doubleheader. That was a dream which died with a Jon Berti single to begin the game.

Even though he didn’t get the no-hitter, or even the shut out, he would pick up the win with a typical deGrom effort. He struggled in the beginning, and he would eventually settle in and dominate.

Over 7.0 innings, he would allow two runs on five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. One of those two runs was a homer from Isan Diaz, who was making his Major League debut. It was a great moment with his family in the stands.

Aa a fan you can enjoy these moments because the Mets won and pulled themselves back to .500.

While Diaz was homering in his debut, Robert Dugger wasn’t having as good a time. In fact, the first pitch he ever threw was hit for a homer by Jeff McNeil.

Heading into the third, the score was tied 1-1 when Amed Rosario hit an opposite field blast.

The Mets got a big bases loaded two run single from deGrom in the fourth. The Mets tacked on two more in the fifth on a Pete Alonso RBI single, and a J.D. Davis sacrifice fly.

The bullpen would pitch two scoreless, and suddenly, the Mets were a .500 team for the first time since May 28th. They would have a chance to go over .500 for the first time since May 2nd in the second half of the doubleheader.

With the sinkerballer Walker Lockett going for the Mets, and this being the second end of a doubleheader, the Mets went with a pure defense first infield with Luis Guillorme at second and Adeiny Hechavarria at third.

That already compromised lineup took another hit when McNeil was forced to depart the game in the top of the third with a leg cramp. That basically left the Mets hoping the Michael Conforto two RBI single in the first and Lockett would hold up.

It didn’t happen.

Lockett cruised through the first three innings, but he would get into trouble when Brian Anderson led off the inning with a double. He’d come around to score on a Harold Ramirez RBI single. Lockett would do well to escape this jam, but he wouldn’t be so lucky in the fifth.

Bryan Holaday tied the score at 2-2 with a fifth inning leadoff homer. The homer didn’t kill a rally, and with two on and two out, Mickey Callaway would lift Lockett for Robert Gsellman to face Curtis Granderson.

The move didn’t work with Granderson hitting a go-ahead two RBI double giving the Marlins a 4-2 lead. With their having their All-Star Sandy Alcantara in the mound, the Mets ability to come back was very much in question.

It was even more in question with the Mets blowing a chance to score in the sixth. After back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, Guillorme was called upon to bunt even with the bottom of the Mets lineup coming up.

Guillorme’s bunt didn’t get close enough to the third base line allowing Jeff Brigham to nail Alonso at third. After that Hechavarria struck out, and Todd Frazier pinch hit for Gsellman and grounded out to end the inning.

Brigham would not have the same luck in the seventh as he allowed homers to Davis,

Conforto,

and finally Alonso.

The blast was a huge one for Alonso who had the longest homerless drought of his career. He may not be hitting as many homers in the second half, but he is sure making them count right now.

With Edwin Diaz pitching in the ninth in the first half of the doubleheader, it was on Seth Lugo to get the six out save. Lugo would get the job done without allowing a base runner.

With the doubleheader sweep, the Mets are now over .500 for the first time since May 2nd. At the moment, they’re 2.0 games back and will be either 1.5 or 2.5 games back depending on what the Nationals and Phillies do.

The Mets also find themselves 8.5 games back of the Braves with nine head-to-head matchups allowing us to still dream.

Game Notes: Robinson Cano was placed on the IL with a torn hamstring. Juan Lagares got the first chance to replace him in the lineup with McNeil at second. In the doubleheader, Lagares was 0-for-3 with three walks and a strikeout.

Assessing Mets Marcus Stroman Trade

Before going into the weeds on the cost, it should first be noted the Mets are a much better team for getting Marcus Stroman. This is a pitcher who has pitched quite well in the AL East, and he is a pitcher with big game experience being named the World Baseball Classic MVP in addition to some really good postseason performances.

Stroman grew up a Mets fan, and as a result, the Mets are getting a player who should become a fan favorite in short order. Assuming no other moves for a moment, the Mets rotation is very clearly the best in baseball, and you can argue acquiring Stroman makes their chances of making the postseason this year significantly better.

The one ding people will bring up with Stroman is he’s reliant upon a good infield defense to be successful, and the Mets defense has not been good this year. On that note, the Blue Jays have been a below average defensive team this year with a -6 DRS with them having a -4 DRS at first, -9 DRS at second, 1 DRS at third, and a 0 DRS at shortstop. With the Mets having Todd Frazier at third and Amed Rosario playing a to positive DRS in the second half, they fair well in comparison to the Blue Jays. Eliminate the turf, and you can argue this is actually a better situation for Stroman to be even better.

Now, if the Mets were in the position the Braves were in, you understand this trade. Stroman is the piece which arguably puts the Mets over the top. When you roll out Jacob deGromNoah SyndergaardMarcus StromanZack WheelerSteven Matz in your rotation, you’re dangerous in both the regular season and post season. As for the bullpen issues, with that collection of five guys, the Mets could take a page out of Alex Cora‘s book last postseason and utilize their starters to dominate the entire series.

Stroman would be an overpay, but it would be one along the lines of the Cubs trading Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman. If you win the World Series, who cares? In some ways, Stroman is even better than that because he is under control for next year as well. This not only gives you the best rotation in baseball right now, but it puts you in a position where you’ve insulated your team from losing Wheeler in the offseason.

The problem with the Mets is they’re five games under .500, and they are six games out of the division and the Wild Card. They are in real striking distance, but they also have many obstacles in their way.

The Mets have three teams ahead of them in the division, and they have four teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. The team just lost Dominic Smith which somehow depletes an already suspect outfield depth even further, and it also stands in the way of the Mets finding some more games for Pete Alonso, who is really struggling so far in the second half.

Speaking of depth, the Mets already suspect starting pitching depth did take a hit. On the one hand, yes, assuming no other moves, acquiring Stroman exponentially improves the depth as he’s a significant upgrade over Jason Vargas, who should now find himself in the bullpen. On that note, the bullpen also looks better. However, that assumes no other moves.

At the moment, it seems the Mets are looking to move Noah Syndergaard in a companion move to help fill out the current roster. Of note, the team still desperately needs a center fielder. It should be noted with the current rumors, Manuel Margot isn’t that guy. He’s yet to be a league average hitter in his career, and he’s a -1 DRS this year in center. On that front, it should be noted he was really good prior to this year with an 8 DRS in 2017 and a 9 DRS in 2018.

If the Mets move Syndergaard, they are again relying on Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt to be their starting pitching depth this year and the next. Aside from one Lockett start this year, that is misplaced faith. This means the Mets need David Peterson to step up instead of hoping one of him or Anthony Kay are ready.

Like with trading Justin Dunn to the Mariners, trading Kay hurt the depth, and it deprived the organization of real starting pitching upside. It also eliminated the possibility of taking either pitcher to send them out there and try to replicate with Seth Lugo or to a lesser extent Robert Gsellman are doing.

Being fair, in the end a package headlined by Kay was a fair return for Stroman. It did make sense to gamble Kay away for the year plus of Stroman, especially if you are really going to go for it as an organization. On that note, they did not do that after trading Jarred Kelenic and Dunn in the trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. On the Cano point, the Mets are up against the luxury tax next year, and they seem to be already using it as an excuse not to add despite the team collecting tens of millions of dollars in insurance proceeds on David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes while also deferring $12 million of deGrom’s contract.

From a Mets standpoint, the part of the deal which really hurts is Simeon Woods Richardson. This is an 18 year old pitcher already pitching for a full season affiliate. He is getting his fastball up to 97 MPH with a promising and developing curve and change which could both be plus pitches. Despite being almost four years younger than the competition, he is striking out 11.1 batters per nine while having an incredible 5.71 K/BB. This is a special arm, and the Mets traded him away with a top 100 prospect for one plus year of Stroman.

On the Woods Richardson front, the Mets were beyond loaded with teenage talent heading into this year. In addition to him, the Mets had Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos, Francisco Alvarez, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and others along with a pitcher like Thomas Szapucki. This was a group poised to break into the majors around 2022, and when they came up, the Mets could have really had a prolonged World Series window open.

With Brodie Van Wagenen as the General Manager, that is what he has been trading away. He has severely hampered the next window from opening. Of course, that assumes the Mets window is currently open. This is a big reason why many baseball people don’t understand this trade. This seems one of those moments like when they pulled off the Cano deal or Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano the Mets are trying to tell us they are smarter then everyone when they’re really not.

Ultimately, you may not like this trade, but you would have certainly understood it if the Mets were 10 games over .500. They’re not. This trade becomes all the more puzzling when you consider they are supposedly doing this as a precursor to trading Syndergaard. Really, when looking at the entire plan right now, none of this makes sense. It makes even less sense if you are trading Syndergaard for prospects because the Mets just obtained one plus year of Stroman and not five.

Overall, this was an overpay for Stroman, and depending on what the Mets do now, it could be a completely unforced error. Typically in these moments, you like to sit and wait before passing judgment on the total plan, but considering how Van Wagenen has lost every trade he’s made thus far, there shouldn’t be much hope this was the first strike in what is one grand master plan.

In essence, enjoy Stroman while he’s a Met. He’s a fun player and really good pitcher who is coming home to pitch for the team he rooted for when he was growing up. Also, root for another hometown kid in Kay and hope Woods Richardson fulfills his potential. Root for everyone to succeed because it helps the Mets in the short term, and it will also help in the long run to remind the Mets that they’re really not better at this than everyone else. They have been and will continue to be considerably worse until Jeff Wilpon realizes he’s the problem.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Beat Padres While On Verge Of Losing Everything Else

The Mets took two out of three against the Padres. It is something which should have further propelled them into the Wild Card race. However, after losing three out of four to the Giants, it matters little. Of course, with all things Mets right now, it’s the off the field stuff which really matters.

1. Take all the pitchers across Major League history. I may just take Jacob deGrom in a daytime start over all of them.

2. In 2020, deGrom and Noah Syndergaard should be the best 1-2 punch in baseball, but they won’t be because the Mets are grossly incompetent, and they will look to trade Syndergaard for well under value. What’s humorous about that is the smartest teams in baseball are lining up begging the Mets to be stupid and trade him.

3. The amount of Mets fans who are happy to see Syndergaard traded and can’t recognize the greatness of a top 20 FIP pitcher in a down year is bizarre. Hopefully, these people enjoy watching Walker Lockett pitch every fifth day next year.

4. After the fiasco of trading Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to the Mariners, you would think the Mets would refrain from making bold moves with young talent. But no, they’re going to do something stupid again.

5. Speaking of that trade, Robinson Cano had a three home run game snapping a 3-for-21 stretch. After the game, he would go 1-for-5. These good moments are fleeting.

6. This is a New York baseball franchise, and they are talking about Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler as an either/or proposition and not a as locking up both to win now and in the future. It is emabarassing Major League Baseball allows this to continue especially with the Wilpons pocketing the insurance proceeds from Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright and leveraging the Mets/SNY to keep themselves personally solvent and invest in the Overwatch League.

7. Dominic Smith had a very bad day in left field during Syndergaard’s start. That’s two poor days in the past week. The only conclusion we should draw from this was he’s inexperienced and the Mets decision not to give him time to prepare to be the left fielder during the offseason, Spring Training, and during the regular season was myopic and stupid.

8. No one knows yet if Smith can be capable in left field, but what we have learned with him is we should never count him out.

9. Another point here is the Mets should stick with Smith for the rest of the year as there are no other options on the roster at least until Brandon Nimmo returns. Of course, that assumes he can return at some point this year. Considering his injury and how poorly the Mets handled it, that’s not a safe assumption.

10. Pete Alonso has had a difficult time after the All-Star Break hitting just .125/.333/.350. He’s falling into the same bad habits pulling the ball and striking out which led to his not getting called up at the end of last year. His defense is also slipping of late.

11. It is way too soon to be concerned about Alonso. After all, he followed a bad May with a great June. On the front, we should only caution we do not know where he true talent level lies at the Major League level or what type of player he will be with teams making adjustments pitching to him.

12. The only untouchable players in trades should be deGrom, Syndergaard, and Jeff McNeil. They are the only three players without a suitable replacement for what they do, and the Mets depth chart does not allow them to easily replace them on the roster.

13. With every passing day, the thing which becomes most clear is the Mets need a center fielder. Looking forward, there isn’t going to be one on the free agent market, so before people go up in arms about being willing to trade Alonso, they should first ask themselves the following questions: (1) How do you propose you get a center fielder? (2) Is this team better as is, or would they be better with Smith at first and really good center fielder?

14. Alonso needs to pick it up because he is in danger of getting passed in the Rookie of the Year competition. Recently, Fernando Tatis Jr. has narrowed the WAR gap, and he is surging.

15. Why are the Mets surprised on the lack of interest in Todd Frazier? In addition to him struggling in July, the teams in contention are fairly set at third, and we know the Mets don’t eat money to help facilitate deals or to get better returns.

16. Somewhere M. Donald Grant is laughing while watching Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon make a mockery of this proud franchise. Seriously, this combination may be worse than Grant, and Grant is the person who facilitated the Tom Seaver trade and the Midnight Massacre.

17. Michael Conforto has arguably been the Mets best hitter in the second half which should come as no surprise as he’s a very good hitter. Mets fans really don’t appreciate just how good a player he is.

18. Even with Juan Lagares going 2-for-4 yesterday, he looks done as a baseball player. If so, that’s a sad end to not just an exciting player to watch, but a real hard worker who busted it everyday. Hopefully, this is a one year blip, and he lands on his feet somewhere next year.

19. The Mets have a very talented young core with no hope of winning this year and really the next few years. This is the worst place to be a franchise, and it is a terrible spot to be in as a fan. Again, the Wilpons are incompetent owners, and they put an agent in charge instead of Chaim Bloom. I really don’t know what fans did to deserve this level of incompetence.

20. It’s funny how the Mets are now considering trading Edwin Diaz. Doing so would be to hit the reset button on a terrible trade. An even better idea would be to hit the reset button on a terrible hire and replace Van Wagenen with a capable General Manager.