Wilmer Flores

Mets Offense Explodes With Giant Win

Another game and another New York Mets starter with a big start. This time it was David Peterson‘s turn.

It didn’t start that way for Peterson. In the second, Brandon Crawford hit a two run homer giving the San Francisco Giants an early 2-0 lead.

The Mets would get him a lead in the top of the third. At the time, you wondered if it was going to be enough.

The Mets would nickel and dime Alex Cobb to death. For example, Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte had consecutive infield singles in the third to help load the bases.

Francisco Lindor followed with a bloop down the left field line. Darin Ruf lumbered over, but he couldn’t make the play as he and the ball landed in the stands for a two RBI automatic double.

The two RBIs tied the score at 2-2. It was also Lindor’s 500th RBI. He would then score his 609th career run as Pete Alonso absolutely launched one to give the Mets a 5-2 lead.

Peterson seemed poised to give that lead right back in the bottom of the third. He walked Ruf to start the inning and then plunked Wilmer Flores.

Peterson bore down, and he got Mike Yastrzemski to hit into the 1-6-3 double play. That play changed the game as Peterson got out of the inning, and the Mets would eventually blow out the Giants.

For Peterson, it was a well earned win. He limited the Giants to the two runs over six while striking out six.

Colin Holderman relieved Peterson in the seventh, and he continued to prove he belongs. He pitched a scoreless inning battling through a bleeding thumb on his pitching hand.

While Mets relievers literally bled, the Giants did figuratively as the Mets offense pounded them in the eighth to break the game open.

It started because Jeff McNeil just couldn’t get a bunt down all game. As noted by Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez, it was partially because his approach has him running towards first at the point of contact.

When McNeil couldn’t get the bunt down to beat the shift, he instead swung away and hit a two run homer off Giants reliever Mauricio Llovera.

And then, Mark Canha went back-to-back increasing the Mets lead to 8-2.

Patrick Mazeika capped off the scoring in the inning with an RBI double. That gave the Mets a 10-2 lead. For Mazeika, it was his third straight game with a double as he attempts to get the starting catching job.

After another scoreless inning from Holderman, the Giants sent outfielder Luis Gonzalez to the mound. After the dog and pony show was over the 10-2 lead grew to 13-2.

The Mets ability to clobber the Giants pitching led to Gonzalez pitching. Things were so bad for the Giants J.D. Davis, who entered the game hitting .188 with a -0.4 WAR, had a four hit night. It was just one of those nights for the Mets.

Chasen Shreve, who has struggled mightily of late, took the mound in the ninth. Again, he let up a run, but in a 13-3 game, it’s a footnote.

The Mets are now eight up in the division. That includes being nine up on the Atlanta Braves. Yes, the Mets are this good.

Game Notes: This was Max Scherzer‘s spot in the rotation. This was Buck Showalter‘s 66th Birthday.

Mets Haven’t Given Dominic Smith A Chance

After this weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Mets are going to have to make a decision. They will have to cut one pitcher and one position player as the team needs to bring the roster down from 28 to 26. If this was purely merit based, the answer to that conundrum would be Robinson Cano, who has only shown he’s done.

As of this moment, if it is not Cano, all signs point to Dominic Smith, and the biggest reason why is he has an option remaining, and he does not have five years of service time. As a result, he can not reject the assignment to Triple-A.

Based on the numbers so far, there isn’t much of an argument. Through 17 games, he is hitting just .182/.300/.212 with a double and three RBI. More troubling behind that 69 wRC+ is a 30.0 K%. Even if there has been some recent improvement, including his go-ahead pinch hit against the St. Louis Cardinals, he just hasn’t shown enough so far this season.

A large part of that could be attributable to how the Mets have handled him this season.

As the Mets approached Opening Day, Smith was showing his 2021 shoulder issues were behind him. Max Scherzer was commenting how Smith was showing an ability to hit balls he was never able to hit. He was red hot at the plate, and he looked poised to return to his 2020 form where we all thought he was on the verge of being a star.

As it turned out, the team first looked to get Cano going. Even after he had a PED suspension costing him the 2021 season, they rewarded him with the Opening Day start. Smith would have to stay on the bench. He would actually be the last Mets player on the roster to get an at-bat and a start in the season.

Nearly a full month into the season, Smith has only started on back-to-back days just once. While having good numbers against left-handed pitching, better than Pete Alonso, he is benched against left-handed pitchers. Really, this is the story of his entire Mets career.

Heading into the 2018 season, the Mets signed Adrian Gonzalez to block Smith. When Gonzalez didn’t work, they went to Wilmer Flores. They never gave him an opportunity to compete with Alonso for the first base job. Time and again, the Mets just go out of their way to find excuses to not play Smith, and then when he doesn’t succeed in a tough situation, they act like they’re justified pretending like he didn’t thrive with extended playing time in 2019 and 2020.

All-in-all, Smith hasn’t performed this season. Certainly, there is blame on his shoulders for not taking advantage of his limited opportunities. That said, sooner or later, the Mets need to put him in a position where he can thrive and be an everyday player because Smith has shown he isn’t just an everyday player but a good one at that.

Neon Moment Of The Week: The Stretch

After a 7-3 start to the season, there was genuine excitement about this New York Mets team, but there was still some naysayers. After all, the Mets were beating up on the likes of the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, and Arizona Diamondbacks. Some questioned how the Mets would fare against a good team.

On that note, the San Francisco Giants came to town. Last season, the Giants led the majors with 107 wins, and they were off to a 7-2 start. Simply put, this series was going to be a real litmus test for the Mets.

Things did not get off to a great start. Tylor Megill, who had been great in place of Jacob deGrom finally struggled. The pitcher who was unscored upon would allow four runs over six. Fortunately, the Mets would tie the game in the fifth on RBI doubles by Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor. The score stayed that way until it was sent to extra innings.

With extra innings comes the gimmick Manfred Man on second base. Brandon Belt was the runner, and he would move to third on a Wilmer Flores flyout. After walking Darin Ruf, Brandon Crawford lined out. That left Thairo Estrada for Adam Ottavino. Estrada would hit a routine grounder to Lindor, but Lindor made an errant throw:

Initially, the umpires ruled Pete Alonso was pulled off the bag. However, upon replay, we saw Alonso made an incredible stretch to stay on the bag. That kept the game tied for the Mets to walk it off on a Lindor game winning RBI single.

That stretch was a key moment in the Mets winning that game. From there, the Mets went on to sweep the doubleheader and take three out of four from the Giants. As a result, the Mets proved they can beat a good team.

That moment was also indicative of just how far Alonso has come. Alonso was known as a poor defender when he was first called up to the majors. He has since made tremendous strides to vastly improve there. As a result, Alonso has shown himself as a player who can help the Mets win with their defense, and that is why “The Strech” is the Mets Neon Moment of the Week!

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20/20 Hindsight: Mets Win Another Series

The New York Mets have played four series this year and have won all four.

1. Now that the Mets have beaten an excellent team in the San Francisco Giants, it will be interesting to see the next talking point as to why the Mets aren’t this good.

2. The DH seems to be magic for the Mets with whomever bats there.

3. The universal DH is still an abomination.

4. Francisco Lindor is playing like a man who is going to be the 2022 NL MVP.

5. When looking into just how great that trade was for the Mets, remember they also got Carlos Carrasco, who has arguably been the Mets best starter so far this year.

6. We got a glimpse of the real Max Scherzer when he flirted with a no-hitter. Man-o-man is this going to be fun.

7. The bullpen has been phenomenal with 15 scoreless innings. Things are going so well even Sean Reid-Foley is putting up zeros.

8. Let’s never do that manager by committee thing again. Putting J.D. Davis at third and using Robinson Cano over Jeff McNeil to pinch hit (and using McNeil as a defensive replacement) is enough to see that never be invoked again.

9. To be fair, Buck Showalter has had his share of those moves. For example, pinch hitting Luis Guillorme to bunt over runners for Travis Jankowski in the ninth was something else. Oh, and he didn’t pinch hit Nimmo.

10. Sometimes the dumbest things work. For example, Guillorme couldn’t buy a hit. After shaving his beard, he’s on a hot steak.

11. Wilmer Flores, who doesn’t have arthritis, absolutely robbed Dominic Smith of the RBI double he desperately needed. Just the latest hard luck out for Dom.

12. Tylor Megill might’ve had a poor outing, but he fought, gave the Mets innings, and he kept it to where the Mets could comeback and win. That’s another huge step for him.

13. Lindor, Eduardo Escobar, and Brandon Nimmo have an OPS of 1.000+.

14. Starling Marte has really struggled to start the year, but when things are going this well, you can easily overlook these things.

15. The Mets have gone from completely inept to lethal with RISP. Part of that is Mark Canha who is 5-for-10 with RISP.

16. You have to love Gary Cohen all the more for his annoyance over SNY showing Yankees highlights.

17. The SNY app has been horrible, and you’re reminded the Wilpons never really had interest in making the Mets watchable.

18. Carlos Rodon is a terrific pitcher who pitched a great game. However, behind that is the fact the Mets haven’t hit left-handed pitching well this season.

20. Its a small thing now, but the Mets are doing something they didn’t do last year. They’re putting separation between themselves and the division while the other teams are struggling.

Reminder: Mets Season Is 162 Games

Before the New York Mets take the field and try to win a fourth consecutive series to begin the 2022 season, they have emerged as one of the best teams in baseball. In fact, they might even be the best. However, there are going to be ebbs and flows.

We have already seen Tylor Megill and Chris Bassitt go from completely and utterly dominant to struggling against a good San Francisco Giants team. Conversely, we have seen Max Scherzer get better each and every time he has taken the mound.

We have seen the palpable excitement from sweeping the doubleheader against the Giants turn to angst when they lost a frustrating game the following day. What made it even worse was seeing Wilmer Flores absolutely robbing Dominic Smith of an extra base hit which might’ve proven to be a game tying or winning rally.

When things like that and losses like that happen, there tends to be an over-focus on the negative. The fans still don’t quite trust the bullpen even if things look better with Edwin Diaz back from bereavement leave. They become overwrought over how neither James McCann or Tomas Nido are hitting. Even with all that, there are some positives to glean.

Drew Smith has emerged as a true eighth inning guy and possibly future closer. Trevor May has shaken off the rust. Chasen Shreve has been terrific. Right there, you have what you need to win any close game, and that’s before you account for Seth Lugo getting stronger as the season progresses.

With respect to McCann and Nido, no, they aren’t hitting. However, they are framing extremely well. As a result, they are doing exactly what they need to be doing. They are helping this pitching staff immensely, and their respective work behind the plate is a big reason why Mets pitching has been so good to start the season.

Overall, things are very positive right now. This Mets team never seems truly out of it. They battle and fight back. They have pitching and timely hitting. These are the things which tend to last, and as a result, it is a good harbinger for the rest of the season and hopefully the postseason.

Dominic Smith And The Zack Wheeler Lesson

There were rumors Dominic Smith wasn’t going to be happy with a bench or part-time role with the New York Mets, and he wanted one elsewhere. As is typically the case, that came around the time he was almost traded. Well, Smith, himself, put those rumors to rest:

Smith has long made the case he should play everyday. We are seeing it again this spring. His shoulder is healthy, and Max Scherzer noted Smith is hitting balls he hasn’t hit before in his career out for homers. Once again, Smith is poised to have a big season.

More than that, Smith is someone who wants to be a Met. In years past, that is not something which the Mets have actually valued. It is an odd thing to see loyalty and allegiance not valued or honored, but that was the way the Mets were operated under the Wilpons.

That’s not to say those values should be treated in higher regard than performance. However, the Mets have taken poor stock of a player’s drive to succeed not just in baseball but with the Mets. They overlooked skills and conditions which served as detriments to performance. Instead, of removing those obstacles, they just removed the player and later lamented why that player is thriving elsewhere.

It is something we have seen time and again. Justin Turner and his new launch angle approach became an All-Star, NLCS MVP, and World Series champion with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wilmer Flores has been a coveted and very successful role player. The list goes on and on.

That list includes Zack Wheeler. When he and Flores were almost traded for Carlos Gomez, Wheeler went to the Mets and said he wanted to stay. He backed that up by getting healthy and improving each season. In his last season with the Mets, it was apparent he was emerging as an ace.

Wheeler went to the Philadelphia Phillies, and he arguably should have won the Cy Young award in 2021. He was that good, and he will continue to be that good as the Mets continue to try to address pitching depth in their organization. To be fair here, things are much improved under Steve Cohen.

When the Mets have a player who is on the verge of a breakout, and that player wants to be a Met, the Mets need to find a way to get that player to succeed here. Like Wheeler, Smith has. Now, the Mets need to make sure they allow him to succeed in 2022 and beyond. It is the right thing to do for someone who is going to be a very good and impactful player, and it is the right thing to do for someone committed to this franchise.

Umpires Mar Great NLDS On Garbage Call

Like 2015, Wilmer Flores was the last man standing between elimination and celebration. Once again, an umpire made a horrendous call.

Back in the 12th inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, Home Plate Umpire Alfonso Marquez called Flores out looking despite the Wade Davis pitch being well off the plate. Truth be told that call didn’t impact the series as the Mets trailed 7-2.

That’s not the case in Game 5 of the 2021 NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.

There were two outs in the bottom of the ninth with the Dodgers leading 2-1 in the winner-take-all game. Kris Bryant represented the tying run at first, and Flores, the Mets all-time leader in walk-off RBI was at the plate.

Max Scherzer was up 0-2 in the count, and Flores entered the at-bat 0-for-17 against Scherzer. And yet, there was still a chance. That was until first base umpire Gabe Morales made a call which had even Don Dekinger shaking his head:

As Jimmy Rollins said in the postgame, Morales is the only person on the planet who thought Flores swung. Curtis Granderson heavily inferred Morales choked under the pressure.

It wasn’t the only completely blown check swing call by Morales in this series. Going back to the Bryant fourth inning strikeout with five of six pitches out of the zone, it wasn’t even the only series changing blown call.

Put another way. MLB Umpires blew a call they can’t blow. It wasn’t close. It was an embarrassment to the sport. It needs to be fixed and corrected, but Rob Manfred and the Umpire’s Union has zero interest in that. Simply put, they don’t care AT ALL, and that’s why this garbage will continue to happen.

Wilmer Flores Is All That’s Left Worth Rooting For

Look at the postseason landscape. On the American League side, you have the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros. So far, you have the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, and they are going to face one of the San Francisco Giants or Los Angeles Dodgers. While the series may be good, it’s not exactly an awe inspiring list of teams to root for to win the World Series.

Plain and simple, we know the Astros have cheated, and they have been unpunished and unapologetic about it. They are facing off against the Red Sox who have their own issues on that front, and they are led by Alex Cora, who was purportedly the ring leader of the entire operation. As we saw, Cora was fired for one year just for show.

When it comes to the National League, the Braves are the epitome of evil. Putting aside the history with Chipper Jones calling Mets fans closet Yankees fans, everything John Rocker, and really, every soul crushing loss, this is a racist fan base eagerly doing the racist Tomahawk Chop chant every game. Rooting for them is like rooting for the hunter in Bambi.

We know all about the Dodgers. There was the 1988 NLCS, and there was Chase Utley. They’re the team who signed Trevor Bauer. We should also mention they’re the favorite team of the Wilpons. No self respecting Mets fan should ever root for the Dodgers.

Understandably, Mets fans probably aren’t too eager to root for the Giants. After all, behind Madison Bumgarner and Conor Gillaspie, they beat the Mets in the 2016 Wild Card Game. There is also all things Barry Bonds. There is also Gabe Kapler, and the heinous things he has been alleged to do.

That should leave a Mets fan wondering what is left in this soulless landscape. Who is the hero who can emerge from all of this dredge? The answer is old friend Wilmer Flores.

Wilmer is the same player who cried at the very idea of leading the Mets only to win a walk-off homer his next chance. In fact, Wilmer has more walk-off hits than any Mets player. That’s a list which includes players like Edgardo Alfonzo, Carlos Beltran, Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, and David Wright. Really, Wilmer has brought us much more joy than we ever could’ve imagined.

Now, he’s the only player really worth Mets fans rooting for this postseason. While we understandably don’t have much reason to root for any of the remaining teams, that goes double for the Braves, there is every reason to root for Wilmer. Hopefully, he and the Giants outlast the Dodgers and the Braves en route to Wilmer winning a World Series ring. After all, if anyone deserves it, it’s him.

Mets Should Pursue Wilmer Flores This Offseason

One of the unforced errors Brodie Van Wagenen made was moving on from Wilmer Flores. Since Flores was non-tendered, he has been a solid player who never had the debilitating arthritis the New York Mets said he did.

Flores first went to Arizona before playing the last two in San Francisco. Over that time, he has a 3.4 WAR and a 116 OPS+. He did that while playing first, second, and third.

He’s proven to be a better fielder than we remembered. Over the past three years, he has a 2 OAA at first, 0 OAA at second, and a 0 OAA at third. Put another way, he’s a capable fielder who won’t hurt you.

Part of the reason for these numbers is Flores has been moved around not amassing large sample sizes. The other aspect is Flores played for far better analytical organizations than what the Jeff Wilpon led Mets were.

That’s the thing. This isn’t the Wilpon led Mets. This is a much better operated organization who compiles and analyzes data quite well, especially defensively. It’s why we saw the Mets go from a -154 DRS since their last pennant to a 44 DRS this year.

Certainly, this is a Mets organization who can effectively deploy Flores in the field. He could be the right-handed compliment to Jeff McNeil. Better yet, he could just be Wilmer Flores.

Flores was a player undaunted by playing in New York. He has more game winning hits than anyone who has worn the Mets uniform. Mostly, he’s a good Major League player who has a lot to offer a team as a quality depth option.

Honestly, you can do a lot worse than a passable and versatile fielder who is an above average hitter. For that matter, the Mets often do worse than that.

Of course, this comes with a huge caveat. The Giants would have to decline his $3.5 million option, which probably seems unlikely. Should the Giants make that choice, the Mets should immediately give Wilmer a call.

Javier Báez: New Mets Fan Favorite

Before the suspended game from April 11 resumed, there was the theatre of the absurd where Javier Báez and Francisco Lindor were forced to apologize for the thumbs down controversy. Their qualifying the apology certainly didn’t help matters.

What really didn’t help was the Mets falling behind 5-1 to the Miami Marlins. It also didn’t help Jesus Aguilar was taunting them during the game.

Worse yet, this was the same old story with the Mets blowing chance after chance after chance. That includes the eighth when Báez was announced as a pinch hitter. He was booed lustily by the sparse crowd. It’ll probably be the last time he’s ever booed.

Chance Sisco of all people got a rally started with a one out walk. Brandon Nimmo followed with a two run homer, which at the time seemed like little more than window dressing.

Don Mattingly brought in Richard Bleier to replace Anthony Bass. Bleier retired Lindor putting the Marlins within one out of victory and a group of Mets seeking redemption.

First was Dominic Smith, who singled. Pete Alonso came up as the tying run, and he lined a double to left. Mattingly went to Dylan Floro, and Báez came up as the go-ahead run.

Báez hit an infield single scoring Smith pulling the Mets to within 5-4. Michael Conforto followed with an opposite field single easily scoring Alonso to tie the game. When Jorge Alfaro, a catcher somehow thrown to left, bobbled the ball, Báez made a mad dash for home.

It was a run arguably only Báez could score. It involved a player with speed who always hustles, and a player with a high baseball IQ willing to take calculated risks. The end result was a win and a great call from Gary Cohen.

This was a win which flipped the script. Not only did it take a bad loss and make it a great win, but it changed the narrative and reaction towards Báez.

It was also a win with legs. The Mets would get off and running in the fourth with a Conforto two run homer.

Later in the inning, Jeff McNeil would double home Báez. It was 3-0, and the Mets would hold on.

Trevor Williams cruises through four, but he’d hit a bump with the 3-0 lead and a Jonathan Villar error. An Aguilar double drove in a run.

With two on and one out, Luis Rojas went to Aaron Loup. While Loup would walk Jazz Chisholm, he’s get Isan Diaz to hit into the inning ending double play.

Things weren’t easy for Seth Lugo in the sixth, but he’d get out of a runners on second and third jam by striking out Sandy Leon and Magneuris Sierra.

Edwin Diaz came in the seventh and retired the side in order for his eighth consecutive save. With that, it was a doubleheader sweep.

This day had all the feel of the Wilmer Flores walk-off. With the Mets 5.5 games out of a postseason spot with a month left in the season, who knows?

Doubleheader Notes: Jeurys Familia picked up the win in the first game. Loup won the second game. Between games, Luis Guillorme was activated off the IL, and Brandon Drury was optioned. Yennsy Diaz was the 27th man.