Wilmer Flores

Brodie Van Wagenen Is Comically Bad

Last night, Travis d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with five RBI. Three of those five RBI came on an eighth inning double which put the Braves ahead 11-10. This was the same d’Arnaud he rage released last year.

Since d’Arnaud was released he outplayed Wilson Ramos. That was readily apparent when Ramos’ framing, if you can call it that, cost Seth Lugo a strike in that fateful d’Arnaud at-bat.

You couldn’t help but notice the same game d’Arnaud won, the .208/.269/.250 hitting Ramos flew out with the tying run on second to end the game.

Ramos’ failures go beyond his offense. He can’t frame and his game calling has been poor. It’s one of the reasons Edwin Diaz has struggled in a Mets uniform.

Case-in-point, Ramos called six outside pitches when Marcell Ozuna was up last week, and on a 3-2 pitch, he called the same pitch Ozuna struck out on the previous day. Short of using a megaphone, Ramos couldn’t have made the pitch type and location any more obvious.

This is normally where we go to Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. On that note, the Mets called up Brian Dozier despite his bit really fully preparing for the season and his not taking part in summer camp.

By hastily starting an ill-prepared Dozier, the Mets have admitted Cano is no more than a platoon player making that trade somehow worse.

On the topic of the platoon, you know who was a really good right-handed platoon option? Wilmer Flores.

However, the Mets non-tendered Flores partially because of a knee condition he never actually had. Instead, they replaced him with Jed Lowrie, a player who actually had a knee injury.

That knee injury is the invented condition of PCL laxity. Even better than the conjured up diagnosis was it taking nearly a year-and-a-half to get a second opinion.

On the topic of the IL, Jake Marisnick landed on it. The Mets could’ve just signed a player like Juan Lagares for cheaper, but instead, they chose to trade Marisnick.

While the Mets are getting nothing from the impending free agent Marisnick, and their bullpen has been struggling Blake Taylor has been terrific out of the Houston Astros bullpen.

The list with Van Wagenen goes on and on. He told us he was replacing Zack Wheeler with Marcus Stroman, who was in the same rotation. He then let Wheeler walk and actually replaced him with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha while trying to tell us the pitching improved.

Don’t forget his continuously telling us he wasn’t going to fire Carlos Beltran only to fire Beltran before he managed a game.

It’s like Van Wagenen is George Costanza. Every instinct is wrought with failure. The key difference is Costanza was the assistant to the traveling secretary, and Van Wagenen is the GM.

The other difference is Van Wagenen is real. He’s all too real.

Citi Bracket: (1) David Wright vs. (13) Wilmer Flores

(1) David Wright – The franchise leader in nearly every offensive category and is widely considered to be the best position player in franchise history. Only homegrown Met to be named team captain. Dubbed Captain America for his exploits in the World Baseball Classic. Once named by Bill James as the perfect baseball player. Seven time All-Star, two time Gold Glove winner, and two time Silver Slugger. Hit the first Mets homer in Citi Field, and he hit the first ever World Series homer in Citi Field. Had perhaps the most emotional good-bye game we have ever seen a player in sports history ever have. A lifetime Met who had a hand in helping ensure Jacob deGrom does the same.

(13) Wilmer Flores – Player who loved being a Mets player so much, he cried on the field when he thought he was being traded. Came back to hit a walk-off homer to beat the Nationals. That was one of many walk-off hits, and he would become the Mets all-time leader in that category. Handled shortstop well defensively after Chase Utley tackled and broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg. Joined Edgardo Alfonzo as the only Mets players to go 6-for-6 in a game. Played all four infield positions in effort to do whatever team asked of him to help them win.

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Mets Fan Favorite Tournament: Sweet 16

After the first two rounds, the Sweet 16 in each of the four brackets is set, and there are going to be some fun and difficult match-ups. So far, all of those who have had their numbers retired and have been captains in team history have survived.

In the Miracle Bracket, Tom Seaver should be expected to advance. To secure a spot in the Final Four, he is going to have to face the winner of Jerry Koosman/Cleon Jones, which has Mets fans deciding which of the somewhat unlikely heroes of 1969 (and 1973) should advance.

The Amazin Bracket kicks off with a battle between the first two captains in team history – Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. As if deciding between them isn’t tough enough, fans have to decide whether they love Dwight Gooden or Darryl Strawberry more.

The Mojo Rising Bracket only has members of the 1999 Mets remaining, which is appropriate given how the region was named after that team. The first match-up is between the helmeted ones in the catcher Mike Piazza and the first baseman John Olerud. Then, it is a match-up between Al Leiter and Edgardo Alfonzo, who were the heros of the play-in game against the Reds.

Finally, in the Citi Bracket, we have two Cinderella runs from Wilmer Flores and Pete Alonso. Flores faces David Wright in a match-up of the emotional stories from the 2015 season. With Alonso, he squares off against Jacob deGrom to see which current Mets player fans adore more.

Voting begins tomorrow with Seaver and Ed Kranepool.

Citi Bracket: (5) Johan Santana vs. (13) Wilmer Flores

(5) Johan Santana – Had first huge moment of Mets career taking ball on three days rest to pitch a complete game three hit shutout to keep Mets hopes alive. Was the last ever Mets pitcher to win a game at Shea Stadium. Was probably cheated of Cy Young that year with his leading league in ERA and IP while being narrowly second in WAR and ERA+. All Star in 2009. Threw the only no-hitter in Mets history after coming off of shoulder surgery. Took 134 pitches to do it, and it was effectively the end of his near Hall of Fame career.

(13) Wilmer Flores – Player who loved being a Mets player so much, he cried on the field when he thought he was being traded. Came back to hit a walk-off homer to beat the Nationals. That was one of many walk-off hits, and he would become the Mets all-time leader in that category. Handled shortstop well defensively after Chase Utley tackled and broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg. Joined Edgardo Alfonzo as the only Mets players to go 6-for-6 in a game. Played all four infield positions in effort to do whatever team asked of him to help them win.

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Best Mets Of All Time: No. 54 T.J. Rivera

Baseball is a funny sport. You can have a player sitting there for years eligible for the Rule 5 draft with teams passing over him time and again. As that player sits in the minors, you now have 30 teams who have overlooked how much that player can contribute at the Major League level. Finally, when there are no other options left, that same player can push your team into the postseason.

While that may or may not seem farfetched, that is essentially the story of T.J. Rivera.

After the Mets won the pennant in 2015, the team didn’t take that next step forward as they intended. Part of the reason was the Washington Nationals signed Daniel Murphy, and the Mets had replaced him with Neil Walker. While Walker had played well early in the year, it all fell apart for him as he suffered a season ending back injury.

Really, the Mets were dropping like flies across the infield that season. That also included players like David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Wilmer Flores. As the Mets headed into September, they really didn’t have a second baseman, and they needed one to emerge.

Rivera had a cup of coffee due to these injuries earlier in the season, and he had played well. That included a four hit game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Still, he had been sent down, and he wasn’t given the initial or even the second or third crack at the job. Finally, on September 13th, he was inserted into the starting lineup, and Rivera responded by going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI in the Mets 10 inning victory against the Nationals. That homer Rivera hit was a game winning homer in the top of the 10th inning.

From there, Rivera was the second baseman as the Mets rode the very hot hand. Over the final month of the season, Rivera hit .358/.378/.552 with two doubles, a triple, three homers, and 13 RBI. With that, Rivera would be in the starting lineup in the Wild Card Game.

To put things into perspective, entering the ninth inning, there were just seven hits total in that game as Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner were absolutely dominant. Through those first eight innings, Rivera was the only player with an extra base hit. The real shame in that game was no one could score Rivera after his lead-off double in the fifth.

While Rivera did not secure a starting spot on the Mets 2017 roster, he did secure a spot on the Opening Day roster. Due to a number of roster issues, he was shuttled back-and-forth between New York and Las Vegas a bit. That said, when he played, he hit. In his 73 games, he hit .290/.330/.430 with 13 doubles, a triple, five homers, and 27 RBI.

Unfortunately, he was done in late July with an elbow injury which would eventually need Tommy John surgery. When Rivera went on the DL then, it effectively ended his Mets career. Currently, he is fighting to get back to the Majors, which is currently being made difficult by the COVID19 shutdown.

Even though Rivera had a shorter than anticipated Mets career, he was a driving force to getting the Mets to the 2016 postseason. He proved to be a good hitter, and ultimately, that is why is the best of the five Mets to wear the number 54.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 52 Yoenis Cespedes

When you obtain a player at the trade deadline, you are really rolling the dice, and you are hoping that player can have a tremendous impact on your team as it attempts to make it to the postseason. That was exactly what the Mets got out of Yoenis Cespedes in 2015.

The 2015 season was a turbulent one. The Mets had a number of injuries as it saw an early April lead turn into a deficit in July. The Mets offense couldn’t score runs. There was a failed trade which had Wilmer Flores crying, Zack Wheeler trying to convince the Mets not to trade him, and Carlos Gomez stuck (temporarily) in Milwaukee with previously unknown hip issues. It was a mess which led to the Mets acquiring Cespedes.

After a relatively slow start, one where the Mets had gone atop the division, Cespedes went on an epic tear. From August 3 – August 26, he hit .323/.356/.625 with six doubles, a triple, seven homers, and 21 RBI. From August 3 – September 14, he hit .315/.361/.714 with 10 doubles, three triples, 17 homers, and 42 RBI. Rarely have the Mets had as an exciting and dynamic a player as what Cespedes was during this stretch. It wasn’t just that he was hitting. It was the hits he got.

In terms of that season, what really stood out was his Labor Day series against the Nationals which essentially locked up the division for the Mets. In that three game series, Cespedes was 6-for-14 with three doubles, two homers, and seven RBI. Honestly, you could not ask for more from him or anyone.

Keep in mind, it wasn’t just his bat but his defense as well. He willingly bounced back-and-forth between left and center (winning the AL Gold Glove in left), and he would make a number of highlight reel plays. Those especially showed off his great arm.

When the Mets went to the postseason, Cespedes did not have the same level of impact as he did in the regular season. That said, there were two very important plays which come to mind. The first was in Game 3 of the NLDS when he sent Citi Field into an absolute frenzy with one of the best bat flips in Mets history:

The next moment was in Game 1 of the NLCS. In the fifth inning of that game, the Cubs had already tied the game in the fifth inning on a Starlin Castro RBI double. Two batters later, Javier Baez hit a single to right which normally would have scored a run. Normally . . .

The Mets would win the pennant but lose the World Series. After a long odyssey in the offseason which saw the Mets initially try to replace Cespedes with Alejandro De Aza, Cespedes had turned down a deferred contract from the Washington Nationals to return to the Mets on what was essentially a one year deal. Cespedes earned that deal and then some.

It’s odd to think about, but the 2016 season would prove to be Cespedes only real full season in a Mets uniform. In the beginning, it was all fun with the cars and crazy breakfasts. In that season, he was an All-Star, win a Silver Slugger, and he would finish eighth in MVP voting. He did all that despite it being an injury plagued year where he would get criticism for golfing (even if Kevin Long thought it helped his swing). Despite the criticism, the fact was the Mets were a better team with Cespedes on the field.

Part of the reason was Cespedes came up big when the Mets needed him most. In August, as the Mets made their improbable run towards the top Wild Card, Cespedes was torrid hitting .340/.400/.680 with two doubles, five homers, and 10 RBI. That included a walk-off homer against the Marlins.

That Mets team would charge to the postseason, but sadly, they could not advance past the Wild Card Game. This time, the Mets would not let Cespedes linger or risk him signing with another team. Rather, they locked him up quickly. Unfortunately, it has been two injury plagued years as we discovered Cespedes had a double heel problem which required surgery. Things went from bad to worse when he broke his ankle in a wild boar attack.

However, through all of that, Cespedes was a game changing type of bat. That was no more apparent than his last game before his surgeries. After a lengthy DL stint, the myopic Mets activated Cespedes just for the Subway Series. In the lone game he was able to DH, he was 2-for-5 with two runs, a homer, and an RBI.

The hope now is if the Mets ever play in 2020 Cespedes can be that game-changing bat again whether that be as a DH or back in LF. As it stands now, many hoped for more from him in this last contract, but when all is said and done, he is the sixth best Mets LF by WAR, which is remarkable considering he’s played fewer games as a Met than anyone in the top eight and the second fewest among anyone in the top 12. That speaks to how big his impact has been in a short time and why he’s the best Mets player to ever wear the number 52.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White

 

Citi Bracket: First Round Complete

The first round in the Citi Bracket and the first round of the tournament are complete. There was no surprise with David Wright and Jacob deGrom advancing, but there were still some significant upsets at least as far as seeding is concerned.

The biggest upset of the tournament so far was Wilmer Flores over Jose Reyes. That made Flores the lowest seed to advance. That is likely due to a combination of Flores love of the Mets as well as Reyes’ domestic violence. The other upset was Pete Alonso over Noah Syndergaard, but that was likely driven by Alonso’s all-time great rookie season coupled with his off the field actions.

The second round of the Citi Bracket will feature 2015 postseason heroes deGrom and Curtis Granderson. We will also see Alonso and Carlos Beltran face off. They are 1-2 in the Mets single season home run totals.

Starting tomorrow, there will be the second round of the tournament which brings us back to the Miracle Bracket with Tom Seaver facing off against Rusty Staub.

Citi Bracket: (4) Jose Reyes vs. (13) Wilmer Flores

(4) Jose Reyes – One of the most exciting and dynamic players in Mets history. Set team records for single season and career stolen bases. Mets all-time leader in triples. By WAR, best Mets SS and fifth best position player. Only Mets player to win a batting title. Four time All-Star. Returned to Mets after domestic violence suspension to take over third base. Hit bit homer against Phillies to help Mets claim Wild Card.

(13) Wilmer Flores – Player who loved being a Mets player so much, he cried on the field when he thought he was being traded. Came back to hit a walk-off homer to beat the Nationals. That was one of many walk-off hits, and he would become the Mets all-time leader in that category. Handled shortstop well defensively after Chase Utley tackled and broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg. Joined Edgardo Alfonzo as the only Mets players to go 6-for-6 in a game. Played all four infield positions in effort to do whatever team asked of him to help them win.

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Best Mets Of All Time: No. 4 Lenny Dykstra

The number four has had a number of folk heroes and fan favorites in Mets history. The first was Ron Swoboda with his diving catch catch robbing Brooks Robinson of a hit in the 1969 World Series. There was Rusty Staub who gallantly fought while injured for the 1973 Mets.

Robin Ventura had the Grand Slam single, and Wilmer Flores has more walk-off hits than anyone in Mets history. Even with all of these Mets greats, when it comes to the number four, Lenny Dykstra was the best player to ever wear the number.

While he was first called-up in 1985, Dykstra would first establish that as the case during the 1986 season. In that season, Dykstra was pressed into action as an everyday player when Mookie Wilson suffered a Spring Training injury. We would soon find out that not only was Dykstra up to the task, but he would emerge as the Mets second best position player that season (by WAR).

It was more than his numbers. He presented a fire and grit for this Mets team (not that they needed it), and we would see exactly why he had the nickname Nails. Of all the special things Dykstra had done that year, he would save his best work for the postseason – something that would become the hallmark of his career.

In Game 3 of the NLCS against the Houston Astros, the Mets were facing going down 2-1 in the series with Mike Scott slated to start Game 4 and Nolan Ryan in Game 5, the 108 win Mets team was in real trouble. They could not lose this game. Ultimately, they wouldn’t as Dykstra would become the first ever Mets player to hit a walk-off homer in Mets postseason history:

Overall, Dykstra would hit .304/.360/.565 with a double, triple, homer, and three RBI. In a series where the Mets offense really struggled against the Astros pitching, especially the top of their rotation, it was Dykstra who helped keep the Mets afloat for their late inning miracle rallies. Really, next to the pitchers, Dykstra was unarguably the best player for either team in the series, and to some extent, he deserved the MVP award.

Just like he did in Game 3 against the Astros, Dykstra again game up huge in Game 3 of the World Series. After that emotional NLCS, they found themselves down 2-0 heading to Fenway. The Mets were in deep trouble. However, Dykstra would revitalize that Mets team leading off the game with a home run off Oil Can Boyd:

To some extent, that moment would be somewhat tainted by allegations Ron Darling made towards Dykstra. Overall, the off-the-field stuff during his career (steroids) and after his career, marred Dykstra. However, when he played, he was a terrific player who always came up big in big moments.

Again, in the 1986 World Series, Dykstra was terrific hitting .296/.345/.519. From there, he would find himself splitting time with Wilson with the Mets obtaining Kevin McReynolds in an offseason trade with the San Diego Padres. When Dykstra got to play, he was a very good player on the field.

He would again be great in the postseason. In a losing effort, Dykstra was phenomenal hitting .429/.600/.857 with three doubles, a homer, and three RBI. Just like two years prior, pitchers aside, Dysktra was very clearly the best position player on the field.

Seeing how he played in that series and in his Mets career, it is a wonder to everyone as to exactly why Dykstra would be traded during the ensuing season to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel. There are not enough ways to describe just how epic a blunder this was for the Mets. This was a franchise altering decision for the Mets and Phillies.

Ultimately, the one thing you can always say about Dykstra was the Mets were always better with him. He was always prepared for the biggest moments on the biggest stage in the biggest city in the world. While he was far from a perfect person, he was the perfect player to play in New York, and if not for him, it is likely we are talking about the Mets only having won one World Series in their history.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the best players in Mets history by highlighting the best Mets player to wear a particular uniform number. In this case, this is not saying Granderson was the third best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 3.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson

Jed Lowrie Had The Debilitating Knee Injury Wilmer Flores Never Had

It was officially one year ago today reports surfaced of Jed Lowrie‘s knee injury. When it first occurred, we assumed this was probably nothing more than one of those early aches some players feel during Spring Training. As is usually the case, the Mets really had no idea of the severity of the injury, how to properly manage or diagnose it, or how to get the player back on the field.

By and large, this injury kept Lowrie from playing in the field, and it limited him to just eight pinch hitting appearances in 2019. In those appearances, he had no hits, drew one walk, and struck out four times.

Fast forward to this year, and Lowrie is wearing a leg brace to help him participate in Spring Training. At the moment, no one knows if Lowrie will be able to effectively play with the brace, if he can only play with a brace, or for that matter when or if he will be able to ever play.

With all due respect to Jason Bay, Luis Castillo, Roger Cedeno, Vince Coleman, and George Foster, Lowrie is shaping up to be the absolute worst free agent signing in Mets history.

What makes this signing all the more troubling is Lowrie’s agent was Brodie Van Wagenen. If there was any GM in baseball who was well aware of the health issues of Lowrie, it would be his agent. Looking back, instead of the enthusiasm for the signing, perhaps there should have been more inquiry why a player coming off an All-Star season and had an 8.8 WAR over the previous two seasons could do not better than signing with the Mets to split time with Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, and Amed Rosario.

The Mets have completely and utterly wasted $20 million on a player who cannot play due to knee injuries. What makes this ironic is the Mets purportedly non-tendered Wilmer Flores partially due to knee injuries which never really existed.

While it was initially reported Flores had arthritis, subsequent reports indicated that was a misdiagnosis. In fact, Flores had tendonitis. Instead of paying him less than $5 million, or working out a team friendly extension he might’ve been inclined to sign, Flores would go to Arizona.

While he had his usual health issues, Flores had a productive season with the Diamondbacks. While continuing to improve against right-handed pitching, he had a 120 wRC+, which was the best of his career. He mostly held his own at second with a -2 DRS and a 1 OAA. That’s right, according to OAA, Flores was a positive defender. Overall, he was worth a 0.8 WAR in 89 games.

Lost in that was Flores’ clutch gene. The same player who is the Mets all-time leader in game winning RBI came up huge down the stretch for the Diamondbacks. From August to the end of the season, he hit .368/.410/.623. His 166 wRC+ over this stretch ranked as the fifth best in the majors.

While this was not enough for Flores’ option to be picked up by the Diamondbacks, he was signed by the San Francisco Giants to a two year $6.25 million deal. In total, that’s $10 million over three years for Flores. Put another way, that’s what Lowrie made in 2019 alone for his eight pinch hitting attempts.

Going forward, the Mets attempts to get another team to take on Lowrie’s contract so they could make another move failed. Meanwhile, Flores is 28 years old and in the prime of his career. Seeing the continued improvements he has made against right-handed pitching and OAA rating his defense much better, Flores could out-play his contract.

In the end, the Mets had a player in Flores who was popular, had a right-handed bat which complimented their heavy left-handed hitting lineup, was comfortable and effective on the bench, and could backup at all four infield positions. Rather than keep him around, Van Wagenen opted to sign his former client who cannot play to a $20 million deal.