On November 4, 2004, the New York Mets introduced Willie Randolph as the 18th manager in Mets history. In his three plus years on the job, Randolph would have the second best winning percentage in Mets history, and like Davey Johnson, he would be one of only two Mets managers to never have a losing record over a full season.
During Randolph’s tenure, there tends to be a heavy focus on the 2007 collapse and his being fired one game into a trip to the West Coast. Lost in that was Randolph taking the Mets to that level. Sure, adding players like Carlos Delgado were a huge factor. However, Randolph helped develop players like David Wright and Jose Reyes.
People also forget Randolph guided the Mets to a winning record in a season where Doug Mientkiewicz, Miguel Cairo, and Victor Diaz got the most games played at first, second, and right. Randolph did help build a winning culture, and to his credit, he learned to adapt to the team while doing a good job with the bullpen.
No, he was not perfect by any means, but overall, Randolph had done a good job with the Mets. Seeing the jobs Jerry Manuel, Terry Collins, and Mickey Callaway did, you tend to realize Randolph was much better than anyone realized.
Fifteen years later, the Mets are following a pattern a bit in hiring their next manager.
Like Randolph, Carlos Beltran came to the New York Mets directly from the Yankees organization. Like Randolph, Beltran played for both the Mets and the Yankees. Both were multiple time All Stars who won a World Series. Both were looked upon by Mets fans as someone who really wanted to be a Yankee and not a Met.
It was odd for Randolph considering how he grew up a Mets fan. Randolph spoke lovingly about the team even telling everyone his first date with his wife was at Shea Stadium. When Randolph had an opportunity at the end of his career, he came to the Mets.
For Beltran, he actually signed with the Mets. As we know things ended poorly with the Mets, but despite all of that, Beltran came back to the Mets. Like Randolph 15 years ago, Beltran is going to become the Mets manager. He is also going to be entasked with guiding the young careers of players like Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil.
If in the end of his career as the Mets manager, Beltran never has a losing record, helped his young players take the next step forward, and he takes the Mets to the postseason, we would all agree it was a very successful run. However, that is today. As we know, there is a lot which happens in-between now and then.
By and large, it does seem like Mets fans are celebrating. Perhaps, it is because he is replacing an unpopular Mickey Callaway. It could be that after all this time the fans who had a certain level of frustration with him realized they were unfair, and with time having passed, they can better appreciate him. Whatever the case, the fans are excited, and that’s great.
Another factor here is after years where there was a hang up over Beltran wanting to sign with the Yankees in 2005, he made his intentions known he wanted to be a Met. As a result, Beltran only interviewed for the Mets job eschewing opportunities with the Cubs and Padres.
He now becomes the Mets first ever Hispanic manager. For what it’s worth, he was also their first true Hispanic superstar. As such, he is fully aware of what he’s taking on, and to that end, there’s arguably no one better to handle all that is coming his way.
His reward is not just being the Mets manager, but he’s also going to get to manage the Mets when they play in his home of Puerto Rico.
In Beltran, the Mets are getting a savant. As described in the book Astroball, Beltran picked up on things before the analytically driven team could. He also helped bring the team together as one unit. He accomplished that not just by being multilingual but a leader interested in making everyone in that clubhouse comfortable feeling like a member of the team.
With Beltran coming home to the Mets, we can envision how well it worked when other former Mets managed this team.
Gil Hodges engineered the 1969 Miracle Mets. Bobby Valentine was the first Mets manager who led the team to back-to-back postseasons. Most recently, Willie Randolph led the 2006 Mets to within an at-bat of a pennant.
Speaking of that at-bat, Beltran handled that with the class and dignity which has come to define him. He’s overcome both that and injuries to build a Hall of Fame career. He overcame all of that and some hard feelings which existed at the time he was traded for Zack Wheeler to not just want but to get the Mets manager job.
In the end, Beltran is back with the New York Mets where he belongs. After all these years, the fans love him, and he loves this team. He’s now coming home to where everything is possible.
He can guide the Mets to one or more World Series. He can join Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza in the Hall of Fame. His 15 will hang in left field with Casey Stengel‘s 37, Hodges’ 14, Seaver’s 41, Piazza’s 31, and soon Jerry Koosman‘s 36.
In fact, when all is said and done, Beltran could emerge as one of the most beloved figures in Mets history. To be able to even contemplate this is incredible, and it is a reason why Beltran returning to HIS Mets is a dream come true.
After Carlos Beltran had his epic 2004 ALCS for the Houston Astros, he was a free agent. As a player who grew up idolizing fellow Puerto Rican Bernie Williams, Beltran had longed to wear the pinstripes. Partially due to Williams’ presence, the Yankees never seriously pursued him.
Omar Minaya and the Mets did, and it would lead to Beltran signing a seven year $119 million deal with the team. As a result, Beltran would wear pinstripes in New York. It was just a different color and borough than he dreamed.
This was the first of a series of things a certain portion of Mets fans found to be unforgivable.
Other factors were his first year struggles. The strikeout against Adam Wainwright. The knee surgery. There’s more including the collapses.
Beltran would eventually get his wish sighing with the Yankees after the 2013 season. He’d return to Houston in 2017, and in his final season, the future Hall of Famer retired with a ring.
After his retirement, he’d interview for the managerial position left vacant when the Yankees opted to not renew Joe Girardi‘s contract. When he didn’t get it, he’d join the Yankees as a Special Advisor to Brian Cashman.
Now, Beltran is looking to do what his former manager, Willie Randolph, did. He wants to leave the Yankees to become the Mets manager. For some Mets fans, despite his growing up a Mets fan and his playing a year with the team, there was a contingent who saw Randolph as a Yankee, and they never wanted him or gave him a chance.
But Beltran? Well, he is a Met. If he has his druthers, he’ll be a Met again.
According to reports, Beltran doesn’t just want to be a manager. He wants to be the Mets manager. Suddenly, the guy who wanted to be a Yankee wants to leave that franchise to be a Met.
With that, hopefully those who couldn’t forgive Beltran for wanting to be a Yankee can now forgive him for wanting to be a Met. Also, if Beltran does the same thing with the Mets he did when he returned to Houston, perhaps those who can’t forgive the strikeout can find it in their hearts to forgive him.
No matter what the case, we see Beltran once again wants to be a Met. It nothing else, it will be great to see once of the greatest players in Mets history return home. Hopefully, this will lead to Beltran following in Tom Seaver‘s and Mike Piazza‘s footsteps in wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
If that happens, well, even if he returns to the Yankees, Beltran will forever be a Met.
Somehow, the Mets were able to pull off a minor miracle by not just pulling out a victory but somehow also pulling to withing three games of the Cubs and Brewers for the second Wild Card with 10 games remaining in the season:
1. Mickey Callaway not pinch hitting any one of Luis Guillorme, Joe Panik, J.D. Davis, or Wilson Ramos for Rene Rivera with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth was easily the worst decision of his tenure as the Mets manager. There is zero plausible explanation for it, and if the Mets lost that game, he would have merited the Willie Randolph treatment. It was that bad.
2. As it turned out, Ramos and Davis did get their chance to pinch hit, and they delivered by setting up runners at the corners for Brandon Nimmo to deliver the game tying base-hit. It was easily the biggest hit of Nimmo’s career, and it was another indication just how special a player he is.
3. After Jeff McNeil had a great at-bat to draw a walk, you could see Joe Harvey wanted no part of Pete Alonso walking him on four pitches. With Alonso hitting his 49th homer earlier in the game tying Mark McGwire‘s first base rookie home run record, you could understand why. In any event, it gave the Mets a 5-4 lead in a game the Mets won 7-4.
4. Seth Lugo delivering an RBI single in that ninth inning was the most passive aggressive way to show the Mets he should be in the starting rotation. How could you not help but love the guy?
5. No, Syndergaard was not good yesterday, but to pass judgment on one start in Coors Field is absurd. After all, are we going to say Max Scherzer isn’t any good and the Nationals need to trade him because he has a 5.88 career ERA at Coors.
7. There is far too much evidence in the pitcher heat maps and the framing abilities of the Mets three catchers where we know Rivera and Tomas Nido make a real difference behind the plate. One start in the most difficult place to pitch in all of baseball doesn’t undo that.
9. We finally got a glimpse of how good a pitcher Marcus Stroman is. His seven shutout innings showed not just the reason why the Mets added him at the trade deadline, but it also showed just how much of a big game pitcher he is. His next two starts should be something special.
10. Steven Matz finally had that meltdown inning he had avoided all second half. That six run inning cost the Mets a chance of winning that game. Overall, we should not read too much into it as it is Coors Field, and he has been just that good of late.
11. In July and August, when the Mets saved their season going from 10 games under to the thick of the Wild Card race, Michael Conforto was their best player (1.6 fWAR highest among Mets position players). In September, he has completely fallen apart hitting .150/.239/.283. The team desperately needs him to get back on track.
12. When Todd Frazier was hit on the hand, it appeared his Mets career was effectively over. Fortunately, he has been able to play after a few days off, and he has contributed going 2-for-6 with an RBI and two walks in addition to his good defense over the last two games.
13. To the shock of everyone, Jeurys Familia came into the game yesterday, and with runners on second and third, he struck out Ryan McMahon to keep the game at 4-2 allowing the Mets to make that comeback.
14. If the Mets are going to pull this off, they are going to need relievers like Familia to step up because the team cannot only rely on Lugo and Justin Wilson. On that front, the Mets bullpen did acquit itself well in this series allowing just five runs over 11.1 innings (3.97 ERA).
15. The Mets designated Eric Hanhold, a promising young reliever, for assignment, and he was claimed by the Baltimore Orioles. Instead of keeping him, the Mets replaced him on the 40 man roster with Donnie Hart, who has yet to pitch in September, and they kept Chris Mazza, who has a 6.43 ERA and has pitched just once this month. That’s an example of just how incompetent Brodie Van Wagenen is.
16. Jed Lowrie finally got on base drawing a walk making him 0-3 with a walk this year.
17. Perhaps the Mets player who came up biggest in this series was Amed Rosario. He was 2-for-4 in the first two games, and he hit the key homer on Tuesday giving the Mets life. Overall, this was just the latest example on how he is figuring things out, and he is going to be a big part of the Mets going forward.
18. Say what you will about the Rockies, but that team can play defense. In fact, between their being great defensively, and the Mets not being good defensively, the Rockies almost pulled out this series. That would have been a disaster.
19. The Mets owe a debt of gratitude to the Padres and Reds for pulling out those wins last night. It is still an uphill climb, but three back in 10 games is possible.
20. The Mets still being alive this late in the season is a miracle. They may still have to run the table, and they have the schedule to do it. However, that still may not be enough. That makes this all just a fascinating end to this season. We should all continue to enjoy the ride.
This was shaping up to be one of those games that not only gets everyone fired. It was also a game which would lead to fans looking to tar and feather everyone. It was going to be that maddening a loss.
Noah Syndergaard struggled in his first start ever at Coors Field, and he made matters worse not holding on base runners. For reasons beyond explanation, Mickey Callaway allowed Rene Rivera to bat with bases loaded and two outs in the sixth with the Mets down 3-2.
The Mets offense had been shut down by Jeff Hoffman, a pitcher with a career 6.21 ERA and a 7.03 ERA this year. This was part of the them of how the bad Rockies pitching inexplicably shut down the Mets offense in a hitter’s paradise.
As the Mets entered the ninth down 4-3, you wondered if Callaway would get the same treatment Willie Randolph once did. Well, it’s not happening because the Mets had a rally to save their season and perhaps more than that.
Wilson Ramos, who wasn’t used as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning, led off the inning with a pinch hit walk before getting lifted for Juan Lagares. J.D. Davis, another player who wasn’t used in the sixth, had a pinch hit single putting runners at the corners with no outs. That was the situation for Brandon Nimmo, who delivered the biggest hit of the year:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2019
Problem is Harvey wanted no part of Pete Alonso, who had hit his 49th homer of the year earlier in the game. Harvey walked Alonso on four pitches, none of which we particularly close giving the Mets a 5-4 lead.
The Rockies caught a bit of a break with Robinson Cano hitting into a 6-4-3 double play, but it should be noted a run scored on the play increasing the Mets lead to 6-4.
At that point, it appeared the inning should be over. After all, Seth Lugo was due up, and with the state of the Mets bullpen, there was a less than zero chance he was coming out of the game. Well, as it turned out, there was no need to pinch hit for him:
Like we've always said about Seth Lugo.
Pure hitter. pic.twitter.com/OqmbBIEtaZ
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2019
The Mets were once on the verge of complete collapse with multiple heads about to roll. Instead, they’d win this game 7-4 in the most improbable fashion. Even better, with the Brewers losing, they gained a game on them in the Wild Card standings.
Game Notes: Alonso’s homer tied Mark McGwire for the most homers by a rookie first baseman, and it set the new Mets team season record. Lugo became the first Mets reliever to have a win and an RBI hit in a game since Nelson Figueroa.
Hall of Fame voting can be very inconsistent at times. For example, we have seen Lou Whitaker (75.1 WAR) and Willie Randolph (65.9 WAR) both get five percented from the ballot on their first appearance while we have seen Ryne Sandberg (68.0 WAR) inducted on his third ballot, and Roberto Alomar (67.1 WAR) inducted on his second ballot. Those same inconsistencies apply to other positions as well as we saw with this most recent Hall of Fame induction.
This past weekend, Roy Halladay was inducted on his first year on the ballot. In 16 Major League seasons, Halladay was 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.178 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, and a 6.9 K/9. He would have a stretch of his career where he was as dominant as any pitcher in the game wining two Cy Young Awards and finishing in the top five seven times. From an advanced statistics perspective, he had a 64.3 WAR, 131 ERA+, and a 3.39 FIP.
Behind the numbers, there are a number of great starts and stories with him. Perhaps there is no bigger start than his first ever postseason start where he threw a no-hitter for the Phillies in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds. You could also argue for his perfect game against the Marlins. Between the moments, the numbers, and the awards, it was determined Halladay was a first ballot Hall of Famer.
When you look at David Cone‘s career, he was not far off from Halladay.
Cone would pitch 17 seasons with the 17th season being a five game stint with the 2003 Mets. In his career, he was 194-126 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.256 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, and an 8.3 K/9. While never seen as quite the dominating starter Halladay was over his career, Cone would win the 1994 American League Cy Young, and he would have five top five finishes in his career. From an advanced statistics perspective, Cone had a 62.3 WAR, 121 ERA+, and a 3.57 FIP.
Looking at Halladay and Cone, the numbers would indicate Halladay was the better pitcher. However, the separation is not as great as the Hall of Fame voting indicates. Whereas Halladay was a first ballot Hall of Famer, Cone would only receive 3.9 percent of the vote in his first and only year on the ballot. This would certainly suggest a lack of appreciation for what Cone accomplished in his career.
Cone is only one of 21 pitchers to throw a perfect game. He was as big a big game pitcher as there ever was. In the World Series, Cone has a 2-1 record with a 2.12 ERA. When his teams faced elimination, Cone made two starts. The first was a complete game gem against the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1988 NLCS. The second was against the Mariners where he departed the game with the teams tied in the eighth. In those elimination games, he was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA.
In his postseason career, Cone would make five starts with his team behind in the series. In those five starts, Cone was 4-0 with a 2.10 ERA. This includes his aforementioned complete game gem in the 1988 NLCS as well as his out-dueling Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in the 1996 World Series to get the Yankees back into that series and eventually win it. On that front, Cone has five World Series rings in his career. That’s one for each All Star appearance.
Considering the Hall of Fame is about honoring the best of the best, you can make the argument there is room for a pitcher like Cone who as at his best on the biggest stages. Looking at his numbers when the chips were down, there is maybe a handful of pitchers you would want over him. If Cone faced any of them, he would give them all he had.
With the understanding it’s not just postseason moments and World Series rings, going back into the numbers, Cone fares well against Hall of Famers. His 62.3 WAR ranks ahead of Hall of Famers like Juan Marichal, Early Wynn, Jim Bunning, and Whitey Ford. Looking at his peak, his 43.4 WAR7 ranks him ahead of Hall of Famers like Mordecai Brown, Don Sutton, and Jack Morris, and his 52.8 JAWS rates him ahead of Hall of Famers like Sandy Koufax, Dizzy Dean, and Bob Lemon.
His 121 ERA+ ties him with Don Drysdale, and it has him ahead of Warren Spahn, Bert Blyleven, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan and Glavine. His 2,773 strike outs is 24th best all-time, and it has him ahead of Hall of Famers like Christy Mathewson, Koufax, Halladay, and Catfish Hunter.
He has more complete games than more recent Hall of Famers like John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez. He has more shutouts than Halladay, Pedro, and Smoltz. In terms of WPA (wins probability added), Cone is 52nd all-time among pitchers. His 25.42 mark rates him ahead of Hall of Famers like Lefty Gomez, Dean, and Phil Niekro.
Looking back, it is very likely Cone’s failure to reach 200 wins hurt him. After all, the average Hall of Fame pitcher has 246 wins, and there are just 11 Hall of Fame starters with fewer than 200 wins. It should also be noted a decade later there is fundamentally different emphasis put on the importance of the win, and with that newer perspective it may be time to reevaluate David Cone’s career.
Upon further review, it may be reasonable to determine Cone still falls short. In all honesty, his career may be the ultimate borderline case. However, it is also a much stronger case than a player who had received just five percent of the vote. Certainly, his all-time rankings in the aforementioned categories, his postseason performances, and his perfect game does deserve a fresher look. Hopefully, sometime in the ensuing years we see the Veteran’s Committee (or whatever it is called now) take another look at Cone, and upon a further examination, we may see him get inducted into the Hall of Fame.
In his eponymous autobiography Pedro, Pedro Martinez detailed how Jeff Wilpon pressured him to pitch despite knowing Pedro was injured. It did not matter team doctors advised Pedro not to pitch or Willie Randolph told Pedro he was done for the year. Jeff Wilpon demanded he pitch, and pitch Pedro did.
As we would discover, this was not an isolated incident. Not by a long shot. The details to which Jeff Wilpon micromanaged injury and medical decisions was highlighted by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN:
Multiple sources said the lack of a single medical point person allows for greater involvement by COO Jeff Wilpon in areas where he’s lacking in professional expertise. They describe Wilpon as a micromanager who creates an environment in which the Mets simply whipsaw from one crisis to the next and are too often governed by how their decisions will be publicly perceived.
“Jeff gets in the middle of everything that’s going on, and he ends up doing more damage,” said a person who has been involved in the Mets’ internal operation. “He meddles. I can’t come up with a more appropriate term.”
Crasnick was far from the only reporter to indicated Jeff Wilpon was this meddlesome in medical decisions. In an interview with Michael Mayer of MMO, former Mets executive Nick Francona agreed with the assessment the Wilpons are meddlesome to the point they “have to have their finger in every pie.”
Certainly, there is an issue with how the Mets handle injuries and injured players. On Bleacher Report, Bob Klapish detailed the issues with how the Mets handle injured players, and as seen with Crasnick’s article, it is traced back to Jeff Wilpon’s involvement:
Paraphrasing one industry executive, it’s almost as if ownership—read: Jeff Wilpon—punishes players who get hurt, banishing them 1,000 miles away from New York. Some players can be trusted on their own. Others see the relatively sparse facilities in Florida, which are designed for low-level minor leaguers during the summer, and defiantly turn the empty time into a de facto vacation.
* * * * * *
What to do with players on the injured list—where to send them, how to treat them—has been a point of contention within the Mets front office for several years. Ultimately, Wilpon has used his veto power to prevent an overhaul.
Maybe it is due to Jeff Wilpon, and maybe it isn’t, but we see a continued pattern with how the Mets both report and handle injuries.
The team pressured Carlos Beltran to forego knee surgery. Both Ryan Church and Jason Bay went on long flights after concussions. It was initially reported David Wright had a hamstring injury before we discovered the real issue was spinal stenosis. Matt Harvey was pressured to pitch well beyond the innings limits purported set and agreed upon prior to the 2015 season. Yoenis Cespedes was activated for just two games, and the team at first publicly denied he needed season ending double heel surgery. There are countless other examples.
We see this pattern re-emerging with Brandon Nimmo.
During Spring Training, Nimmo was described as having a right shoulder issue. It was apparently not sufficient enough of an issue for him to miss Opening Day. A few weeks into the season (April 16), Nimmo would be removed from the game against the Phillies. What was first described as a right shoulder issue would quickly be re-characterized as a “stiff neck.”
Nimmo would miss just two games before returning to the lineup. For a month, there would be no real mention of issues related to Nimmo’s neck. In fact, the only thing we would hear about is an oblique related issue. Still, despite his having a shoulder/neck issue, getting hit on the hand, and dealing with an oblique issue, Nimmo would not land on the disabled list until May 22.
At that time, Nimmo was hitting .200/.344/.323. It is important to remember this was a year after Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League trailing just National League MVP Christian Yelich in wRC+. At 26, he was supposed to take off and build off of last year. Instead, he was dealing with some nagging injuries and a “stiff neck.”
It is important to note here Nimmo said the neck injury which landed him on the injured list was the same injury he had been dealing with since April.
Finally, after dealing with injuries in the area of the body since February and more specifically since April 16, Nimmo was sent for an MRI. The results of the MRI showed Nimmo had a bulging disc in his neck.
On June 6, Nimmo began a rehab assignment. In his first game, he was 2-for-4 with a triple. In the ensuing four games, he was 0-for-10. He was given the June 13 game off, and then he was scratched from the lineup the following day.
As detailed by the NY Post‘s Zach Braziller, the Mets had claimed Nimmo was dealing with neck inflammation until Nimmo revealed it was a bulging disc. Moreover, Mickey Callaway admitted Nimmo was playing rehab games despite the fact his neck issue had never gone away.
Now, Nimmo is going to see Dr. Robert Watkins in California. If that name sounds familiar, it should. Dr. Watkins is the same specialist who treated Wright for his spinal stenosis. The Los Angeles Daily News has called him one of the top 50 powerful sports figures in Los Angeles. This is partially due to his treatment of Peyton Manning. On a baseball front, he also treated Don Mattingly in addition to Wright.
What is interesting to note in the article lauding him is the statement, “The microdiscectomy surgery he performs on most of his sports clients provides relief for herniated discs.” At this point, we have no real way of knowing how this applies to Nimmo.
Part of the reason why is the Mets went from soreness to inflammation to bulging disc. They had Nimmo play until he could no longer play, and he was sent on a rehab assignment despite the injury not having fully healed.
To be fair, there are factors here which could absolve the Mets. Doctors could have said Nimmo could play so long as he felf comfortable playing. Certainly, Nimmo could have not told the team the full extent of his injuries, or maybe, Nimmo did feel as if he could play through it all. It would not be the first or last time any of these types of things have happened.
While we shouldn’t discount that, we cannot discount the reports regarding Jeff Wilpon’s meddling into medical decisions. We should not discount how Wright goes from a leg injury to career ending spinal stenosis or how the team was initially set against Beltran or Cespedes receiving the surgeries they required.
More than that, there was Pedro. Certainly, if an eight time All Star, three time Cy Young Award winner, and a future Hall of Famer felt pressured to go against medical and managerial advice because Jeff Wilpon demanded he play, you wonder how a 26 year old like Nimmo would hypothetically feel if he was ever put in the same situation.
Overall, we do not know exactly what transpired with Nimmo. We do not know what he said to the team or his doctors, what his doctors communicated to him and the team, or what the team instructed him to do. All we do know is Nimmo’s injury and handling thereof have fit a pattern which has existed with the Mets for over a decade now. We have seen this ruin some careers and alter others. Hopefully, we will not see the same fate befall Nimmo as has befallen other Mets.
There have been a few times in the Mets history where they have surprised or even shocked the World in making their run to the postseason. The biggest example is 1969, which occurred 50 years ago. The Mets would make their Miracle run in 1973, and they would emerge in 1999, 2006, and 2015.
When you look at those rosters, there are players who are comparable to the players on this year’s Mets roster. Here’s a look at how it breaks down:
Wilson Ramos (Paul Lo Duca) – Ramos may not have been the catcher the Mets may have originally expected to bring in during the offseason, but like Lo Duca, he could be the perfect fit for this team and surprisingly be a very important piece to this club.
Juan Lagares (Endy Chavez) – Chavez was the defensive oriented player who was pressed into more action than anticipated, and his play on the field was a big reason the 2006 Mets came withing a game of the World Series.
Corey Oswalt (Logan Verrett) – The Mets need a low round drafted prospect to put together a string of great starts to help put this team over the top. With his increased velocity, this could be Oswalt.
And finally, there is Mickey Callaway, who we are hoping will be able to accomplish what Willie Randolph accomplished by proving himself a good manager in his second year and by leading the Mets to being the best team in the National League.
Last night, the New England Patriots won the sixth Super Bowl in team history. If you look at how the Mets have performed in the other five years the Patriots won the Super Bowl, you may not believe this to be a good thing:
Super Bowl XXXVI
After a disappointing season on the heels of a National League pennant, Steve Phillips decided it was time to make some drastic changes with the Mets. The team would clear out Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile to make way for Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar. The team would also reunite with Roger Cedeno and Jeromy Burnitz. A disappointing rotation was “buttressed” with pitchers like Pedro Astacio, Jeff D’Amico, and Shawn Estes.
What would result was an unmitigated disaster as none of the imported players would perform close to their historical levels of production. In fact, only Estes would be playing baseball the next time the Mets made the postseason. Perhaps the biggest indignity to their also-ran season was Estes inability to exact revenge against Roger Clemens.
Super Bowl XXXVIII
This year was probably rock bottom for that era in Mets history. The team proved ill advised at trying to make Mike Piazza a part-time first baseman. Kazuo Matsui looked like a bust leading you to wonder why the Mets not only contemplated signing him, but also shifting Jose Reyes to second base to accommodate him. You also wondered if Reyes was going to prove out to be an injury prone player. Braden Looper should never have been contemplated as the closer.
As bad as that was, the team made a series of trade blunders. First and foremost, for some reason with the Mets being five games under .500 and seven out in the division, they talked themselves into contender status leading to the infamous Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano trade.
As bad as that was, we would also see the Mets first obtain Jose Bautista only to trade him away for Kris Benson. Again, this was done in the vein of the Mets are contenders despite being so many games out of contention.
Jim Duquette would shoulder the blame for the moves, which probably were not all his idea, and he would be reassigned in September. Without Duquette at the helm, the Mets would completely bungle firing Art Howe leaving him to manage the end of the season knowing he was doing it with the axe swiftly coming down on his head.
Super Bowl XXXIX
With Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph at the helm, this was a new look Mets team. Still, things weren’t quite there. Doug Mientkiewicz proved to be a bit of a disaster. The team leaned on Miguel Cairo too much. At the time, Carlos Beltran seemed to be channeling Bobby Bonilla with a year where he regressed in nearly every aspect of his game. As bad as that was, he had the horrific collision with Mike Cameron in right-center field in San Diego:
The biggest bright spot of that season was Pedro Martinez, who was vintage Pedro all year long. He flirted with no-hitters, and he led the league in WHIP. He was a throwback to a time when the Mets dominated with their pitching. He would also battle some injuries leading to Randolph smartly shutting him down for the rest of the year.
Except he wasn’t. As Pedro would detail in his eponymous book “Pedro,” Jeff Wilpon forced him to pitch while he was hurt. This would exacerbate his existing injuries and would lead to other injuries. Instead of having Pedro in the 2006 postseason, he was watching with the rest of us.
Super Bowl XLIX
Mets: Lost World Series 4-1
Even when things are going right, they fell completely apart. Alex Gordon jumped on a Jeurys Familia quick pitch. Daniel Murphy booted a grounder. Lucas Duda couldn’t make a throw home. Terry Collins did about as poor a job managing a World Series as you possibly could do. What was once fun ended in bitter fashion.
Super Bowl XLIX
The 2016 Mets made a late furious push to claim a Wild Card spot despite being without Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler in the rotation. The thought was if these pitchers could be healthy in 2017, then the Mets could return to the postseason for a third consecutive year, and maybe, just maybe, the Mets could win the World Series.
Instead, Harvey would have off-the-field issues leading to a suspension. Back then, we thought those issues were affecting his performance. In actuality, it was Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Joining Harvey on the shelf was Noah Syndergaard, who went down with at a torn lat. Matz had ulnar nerve issues costing him most of the season. With Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman unable to reclaim their 2016 magic, the season was history.
Still, during that season there was a glimmer of hope in the form of Michael Conforto. The then 24 year old was playing at a superstar level. He was named a first time All Star, and he was proving himself to be a leader for a Mets team which still had the talent to be contenders in 2018. Instead on August 24, he would swing and miss on a pitch and collapse to the ground with a severe shoulder injury.
As if that all wasn’t enough, this would be the first time since 2003, David Wright would not appear in at least one game for the New York Mets.
Super Bowl LIII
This past offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen has set out to put his stamp on the Mets. He has rebuilt the bullpen with Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson. He has reshaped the lineup with Robinson Cano, Jed Lowrie, and Wilson Ramos. There are still some holes on the roster, but generally speaking, this is a stronger club than the Mets have had over the past two seasons.
The additions have come at a cost. The Mets traded away arguably their two best prospects in Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. The team has also parted with well regarded prospects Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, and Scott Manea for J.D. Davis. There was also a further burying of former first round picks Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini on the depth charts.
Sure, there is no real correlation between the Patriots winning a Super Bowl and the Mets performance during the ensuing season. To suggest that is foolish. And yet, there is an unsettling pattern where a Patriots Super Bowl begets a disappointing Mets season.
Really, when you break it down, the real analysis to be made here is the disparity between the Patriots and the Mets. Whereas the Patriots are regarded as one of the best run organizations in all of professional sports with a terrific owner, the Mets are regarded as one of the worst run organizations with meddlesome owners. If the Mets are to break this “streak,” it is going to be because the Mets are a much better run organization who has the full resources and backing it needs from ownership.
Prior to Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, there was much debate over who Willie Randolph should give the ball.
It was Steve Trachsel‘s turn in the rotation, but he was terrible in Game 3 and bad in the NLDS. Possibly, it was the result of the microdiscectomy he had in 2005, but he didn’t have in anymore.
Due to the rainouts in the series, Tom Glavine in one day of rest was a non-starter leaving the Mets unable to throw their best (healthy) pitcher in a winner-take-all-game.
As a result, when you broke it all down, the Mets best option was Darren Oliver Perez. That’s right, it was some combination of Darren Oliver, the former starter who was brilliant in the Mets bullpen in 2016, and Oliver Perez, the pitcher who did just enough to win Game 4. With Perez not being nearly as good as he was as his 2002 breakout season, and him starting on three days of rest, this truly was an all hands on deck type of game.
Looking at the game, it made sense to put the Mets bullpen front and center. The Mets had the best and deepest bullpen in the National League. That bullpen led the National League in wins, ERA, and fWAR. It was dominant, and even with the hiccups in Games 2 and 5 in the series, you certainly trusted it much more than you trusted anyone in the rotation.
As we are aware, things turned out much differently than anticipated. With the help of Endy Chavez making the greatest catch you will ever see, Perez would allow just one earned on four hits in six innings of work. He went far beyond what anyone could have anticipated, and really, he put the Mets in position to win that game.
Ultimately, the Mets would lose the game and as a result the series for two reasons. The first was the Mets offense didn’t deliver. After Endy’s catch, Javier Valentin struck out with the bases loaded, and Endy did not have more magic left for the inning instead flying out. In the ninth, Cliff Floyd struck out, Jim Edmonds robbed Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran struck out looking.
The second reason was the bullpen, specifically Aaron Heilman. He pitched a scoreless eighth, and he started off the ninth well striking out Edmonds. After the Scott Rolen single, he really was through the dangerous part of the lineup. He should have gotten through that inning unscathed to give the Mets a chance to walk off. Realistically speaking, no one could have anticipated what came next.
In 2006, Heilman did not get hit hard. He yielded just a 4.4% FB/HR ratio, and he had a 0.5 HR/9. He had not given up a home run since July 16th, and that was hit by Phil Nevin. Again, no one could see Yadier Molina‘s homer coming.
That didn’t stop it from coming, but just because it came, it did not mean Randolph and the Mets made the wrong decision trusting Heilman.
Sometimes, you make the right decision, and the wrong thing happens. It is what we saw happen last night with the Athletics.
Like the 2006 Mets, the real strength of that team was the bullpen. In a winner take all game, Bob Melvin put his faith in them. Ultimately, it was two of his best relievers, Fernando Rodney and Blake Treinen, who failed most. They took a close game and put it well out of reach.
That doesn’t mean he was wrong to trust those arms for one game. It just means the team’s best players didn’t perform, which is the reason the Athletics lost. Really, it was the use of an opener or the bullpenning. It was Rodney and Treinen, two pitchers who were definitively going to pitch in the game even if the Athletics used a traditional starter, who lost the game.
In the end, there is still a debate at the merits of using an opener or bullpenning, but the Athletics losing this game did not settle this debate. Not in the least.