— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) March 30, 2020
What is interesting with Smith is this isn’t his first foray into catching. In fact, Smith told Michael Mayer of MMN he caught in high school. As seen above, he hasn’t completely given up on it as he was slated as the Mets emergency catcher in 2019. Overall, reviews of his limited work behind the plate are somewhat positive.
— Braxton Davidson (@Braxdavidson) March 30, 2020
Looking at 2021 and beyond, Wilson Ramos is going to be a free agent, and Smith is a player who is blocked from playing his everyday position of first base by Pete Alonso. Seeing him catching Stroman, being an emergency catcher last year, and the positive reviews of his limited work back there, you do wonder if the Mets should try to move Smith behind the plate.
Before addressing the point in full, as noted by The Hardball Times, Jack Clements is the only left-handed catcher in Major League history to catch at least 1,000 Major League games. His last game was in 1900. To that end, you could consider him the only true left-handed catcher in Major League history, and he played in the Dead Ball Era.
There have really been a handful of left-handed catchers in Major League history (14 in total) with Benny Distefano being the last one to appear in a game. What is somewhat interesting about that is he played first base and the outfield from 1984-1988 before he was permitted to catch three games in 1989, which was a function of his preparing to be an emergency catcher. More interesting than that was the fact he didn’t catch in his professional career before those three games.
With his limited experience, Distefano noted the issues for a left-handed catcher were bunt plays towards third base as well as applying tags at the plate. (New York Times). The Hardball Times addressed this in their article, and they noted there is a slight issue with it, but they also noted a left-handed catcher would not have the same issues with a right-handed batter the right-handed catcher would.
The bigger issue is getting the tag down, which The Hardball Times confirms. On both issues, it was noted it is such a small part of the catcher’s duties it likely would not have a real impact on the game. That is all the more so when you consider the advantages a left-handed catcher would have including fielding plays right in front of the plate and catching breaking pitches from right-handed pitchers.
In total, at least in theory, there would be no real discernible difference between right and left handed catchers other than the fact seeing a left-handed catcher would look strange. In the end, it is not like a left-handed shortstop or third baseman where playing the position is an impossibility.
Seeing how it could happen, we revisit the question of whether the Mets should look to move Smith behind the plate.
Certainly, it helps he already has some experience in terms of high school, preparing to be an emergency catcher, and now catching Stroman. Being a first baseman, he is accustomed to the bunt plays towards third and making the left-handed throw to third base.
We know he has the agility to do it between his first base and left field experience. In terms of left field, we know he has the ability and willingness to learn a new position if it means helping out the team. Overall, he has shown himself to be a team first person, who may prove willing to do this. That may prove to be all the more the case if it meant a regular position for him.
In terms of the Mets, Ramos has a $10 million option for 2021 which may or may not be picked up. Tomas Nido is a defensive back-up with no remaining options. Ali Sanchez may be nothing more than a better defender and possible a worse hitter than Nido. The shot in the dark is Patrick Mazeika who is still just a part-time catcher in the minors.
Really, from an organizational standpoint, the Mets are exactly the team who should experiment with this. After all, Smith is an everyday caliber player, and he has the experience. More than that, he has nothing to do now but work out on his own and to meet up with Stroman to catch him.
The more he catches Stroman, the better prepared for the transition he will be. Speaking of Stroman, Jose Bautista working out with him led to his getting work outs to try to return to the Majors as a pitcher. At the end of the day, there isn’t much reason not to at least see if this could happen.
Well, there are some issues with the AI and decision making, but in the end, the main takeaway so far is MLB The Show doesn’t think the Mets quite stack up to the NL East competition.
All his life, Rick Porcello wanted to be a Mets pitcher, and he took a one year deal with the Mets to make that happen. You can be sure he didn’t want his first start to go like this.
First off, you can be rest assured he didn’t want his Mets debut to be simulated because of COVID19. He also didn’t want to take the loss while not lasting five innings.
His big problem can in the second when he got hit hard. The hardest hit came off the bat of Didi Gregorius who opened the scoring with a solo homer.
The Mets trailed 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh, with the lone run coming off a Brandon Nimmo homer off of Vince Velasquez. The Mets pulled to within 4-2 off a long Wilson Ramos RBI single. That’s when the bizarre AI kicked in.
Down two with two on and no outs, Amed Rosario bunted in front of Jake Marisnick, and the Phillies got the force out at second. Marisnick struck out, and then out of everyone on the bench, Jarrett Parker came up to pinch hit.
That’s the same NRI who was never going to make the Mets 2020 Opening Day roster. He grounded out to first to end the rally.
In the end, we can all assume Luis Rojas will be much better than this. If so, maybe the Mets don’t lose games like this 4-2, and mostly likely, they won’t begin the year losing their first four.
How much better they’ll be is up for debate. For instance, Baseball Reference‘s 2020 simulation with OOTP21 has the Mets with a 1-3 record at the moment.
Still, these are just simulations, and they’re helping us get through this stretch of self isolation and quarantine. Seeing these Mets start 0-4, we wait all the more for the real thing.
In years past, the Mets have been able to use the opening series against the Nationals to make a statement. In this simulated series, the Mets team without Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard was swept at home.
Mets actually had an early lead when Wilson Ramos hit a two out two run double in the fourth. However, the wheels came off for Matz in the fifth as the Nationals scored five runs capped off by a Kurt Suzuki two run homer. Matz was lifted when he couldn’t get the last out of the inning.
The Mets were down 6-2 entering the seventh. Robinson Cano chased Patrick Corbin with an RBI single. Amed Rosario and Jake Marisnick greeted the Nationals bullpen with RBI singles pulling the Mets to within 6-5.
The Mets had two on, no out, and they were ready to flip to the top of their lineup. For some reason, Justin Wilson hit for himself, and he couldn’t quite get the sacrifice down leading the Mets to strand the tying run at third.
An eighth inning rally sputtered without scoring a run, and the Nationals racked on two insurance runs in the ninth for the 8-5 win.
In the series, we saw the Nationals were a better team as they flexed their championship muscles. Of course, while some may debate whether that’s an actual thing, it’s most likely not in a simulation. The other key detail is while we have not seen Luis Rojas manage a game yet, we can be certain he doesn’t bat Wilson in that situation.
Overall, the Mets may be 0-3 in MLB The Show, but they’re still 0-0, so that’s something.
The concern with Noah Syndergaard having Tommy John surgery isn’t just his being gone for the 2020 season and a significant portion of the 2021 season. The larger problem from a Mets perspective is this team has not had the best history with Tommy John surgeries and rehabilitation.
The Mets don’t have to look any further than their pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. Back in 2013, he was putting together a promising campaign when it was discovered he had a torn UCL. During his rehab from Tommy John, things were not going well, and it was discovered he would need to undergo a second surgery. He would only pitch one season in the minors after that before retiring.
Hefner was rehabbing at the same time as Matt Harvey. When it was discovered Hefner needed the second surgery, the Mets had eased the throttle off of Harvey who was pushing to pitch in 2014. In 2015, despite agreements on his innings limit, the Mets reneged and pushed him to pitch, and Harvey would throw more innings than anyone in the history of baseball after their Tommy John surgery.
In 2016, he was just not good with everyone trying to figure out what was wrong with him. It took a while to discover he had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Despite noticeable muscle atrophy, the Mets pitched him in 2017 leading to a stress reaction. Really, that was all but it for him as a Met and possibly his career. The big unknown is how the Mets handling of him affected his shoulder and/or aggravated or caused the TOS.
Harvey would not be the only Mets pitcher to return in 2015 from Tommy John. The other notable pitcher to return was Bobby Parnell. After discovering a torn UCL the day after the 2014 Opening Day, Parnell underwent the surgery. A year later, a Mets team hoping to stay in the pennant race activated him well before the end of the 18 month rehabilitation period. Parnell didn’t have his fastball, and his command was shot. By the middle of August, he had pitched to a 6.38 ERA before being put on the DL with arm fatigue. He’d only pitch 5.1 Major League innings after this season.
While Parnell was someone whose injury was discovered a day into the 2014 season, Zack Wheeler‘s torn UCL was discovered on the eve of the 2015 season. Wheeler had surgery, and he was slated to return in the middle of the 2016 season to help the Mets return to the postseason. During his rehab, he’d have issues with his stitches, and he would suffer a flexor strain when he was finally able to step on a mound again.
He wasn’t able to step onto a Major League mound again until April 2017, and he would have to be shut down that season due to a stress reaction in his right arm. Really, Wheeler wasn’t right until the 2018 season, which was three years after the first surgery.
A Mets pitcher having this level of difficulty in their Tommy John rehab is not anything new. In fact, that was exactly the case with Steven Matz when he was in the minor leagues. After being drafted in 2009, it was discovered he had a torn UCL, and he needed to have Tommy John surgery.
Matz really struggled with the rehabilitation, and there was a significant amount of scar tissue. At one point, they were concerned he was going to need a second Tommy John surgery. The advice was to just pitch through it. Matz would do just that finally making his professional debut in 2012. His Tommy John issues would not re-emerge until 2017 when he needed ulnar nerve transposition surgery.
When Matz underwent the surgery, he joined reliever Erik Goeddel and ace Jacob deGrom in having the surgery. With respect to Goeddel, he had Tommy John when he was in high school well before he was a member of the Mets organization. However, with respect to deGrom, he had his surgery and rehab as a member of the Mets organization.
With deGrom, he had seemingly appeared to be the one Mets pitcher who had a normal Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation. Yes, there were difficult times when he told Frank Viola he wanted to quit, but that was part of the normally grueling rehabilitation process and return. Ultimately, deGrom would become a Rookie of the Year winner, and he would introduce himself to the world with an incredible All-Star Game appearance and a postseason for the ages.
As noted with Harvey and Wheeler, Mets pitchers were dropping like flies in 2016. In addition to Harvey and Wheeler, Matz went down with a massive bone spur. It was then discovered during a pennant race, deGrom needed the ulnar transposition surgery. As we have seen, the surgery went well, and after a pedestrian 2018 season (by his standards), he has returned to be the best pitcher in baseball.
Keep in mind, the Mets checkered Tommy John history isn’t just recent. Jason Isringhausen would have the first of his three Tommy John surgeries with the Mets. Looking back at Generation K, he, Paul Wilson, and Bill Pulsipher would all have arm issues leading to them never pitching in the same rotation.
The Mets haven’t had Tommy John issues with pitchers only. T.J. Rivera underwent the surgery in 2017, and he attempted to return too soon struggling in 22 at-bats. The Mets would release him, and he would play in the Atlantic Leagues for the Long Island Ducks before landing a minor league deal with the Philadephia Phillies. We will see if he can return.
Last year, we saw the Mets botch the handling of Travis d’Arnaud. Even with the team playing well with a tandem of Wilson Ramos and Tomas Nido, the team rushed d’Arnaud back to the majors before one full year of rehabilitation. He would have one of the worst games you would ever see a catcher have leading to the Mets rage cutting him.
He would first land with the Dodgers and then the Rays. Notably, he didn’t start really playing well until July, which was roughly 15 months after the surgery, which is much closer to the recommended 18 months.
This is not an extensive history, but it is a good snapshot of the struggles the Mets have had dealing with Tommy John surgeries. Perhaps, it is of no coinidence much of this has coincided with the Wilpon taking over majority control of the Mets, and as Pedro Martinez and others have noted, Jeff Wilpon’s interference with medical decision making has been a real issue.
Seeing the Tommy John problems the Mets have had, we get a better sense of why Seth Lugo was so unwilling to go through the process, and we see some of the dangers which may very well face Syndergaard as he attempts to return from the surgery before hitting free agency.
During the 2019 season, there were rumblings the Mets pitching staff was not happy with Wilson Ramos‘ work behind the plate. While Noah Syndergaard was the only one who went public, we did hear rumblings about other pitchers.
For example, there were issues early on in the season between Ramos and Jacob deGrom. This led to deGrom briefly using Tomas Nido as his personal catcher to get his season back on track and to get him moving towards winning his second straight Cy Young.
Behind the scenes, deGrom and Ramos worked together to get on the same page. Beginning on June 7, Ramos again caught deGrom the majority of the time. From that point forward, deGrom was 8-3 with a 1.88 ERA. In essence, the two figured it out, and once again, deGrom was deGrom.
All we know is that the two worked out what needed to be worked out, but we never quite knew the issue. In a recent interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Zack Wheeler described what the issue between Ramos and really the rest of the pitching staff might’ve been.
Wheeler mostly tabbed unfamiliarity as the issue saying, “I wanted to go up there [with high fastballs] but he wasn’t calling it, so I didn’t throw it up there. Nothing on him. He was getting used to us also. But I knew I needed to go up there a good bit, even early in the count.”
Looking at Wheeler’s first half, he struggled. In 19 starts, he had a 4.69 ERA. The second half was a different story. As Wheeler noted, Ramos was calling the pitches up in the zone more, as he had wanted, and Wheeler rebounded to have another big second half.
Akin to deGrom and Wheeler, we saw clear first half and second half splits for the Mets. In the first half, the Mets were outside the top ten in most pitching categories including their having a 4.88 team ERA, which was 10th worst in the majors. In the second half, the Mets staff was significantly improved to be among the best staffs in the game with a 3.48 ERA, which was fourth best in the Majors.
Perhaps it is of no coincidence the Mets were a completely different team in the second half. After being 10 games under .500 in the first half, they were 20 games over .500 (.644) in the second half. With Ramos figuring things out behind the plate and getting on the same page with the Mets pitchers, they were a completely different team.
It seems the only pitcher Ramos couldn’t quite figure things out with was Syndergaard, but to his credit Ramos is working on it by changing his stance. This should allow him to better catch and frame for Syndergaard leading to better results.
Across the board, there should be better results. After all, the awkward feeling out period between Ramos and the staff isn’t really present. In fact, aside from Dellin Betances, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha, Ramos has worked with this staff. He knows what they need to do to succeed, and more importantly, what he needs to do to help them succeed.
Overall, Ramos was a a part of the problem in the first half – a big part. However, he was part of the solution in the second half, and now, he may be a big reason why the Mets win in 2020.
The Wilpons are the worst owners in professional sports, and based on their turning down over a billion in profit, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. With them and their equally incompetent General Manager, there is a sense of despair and/or anger which comes with being a Mets fan. Still, even with the Wilpons being horrible and their not going anywhere, there are reasons to still root for this team:
Pete Alonso – Rookie Home Run King who got the entire team cleats to honor the first responders of 9/11
Dellin Betances – he waited for the opportunity and came back to sign with the Mets because he wanted to stay in New York
Brad Brach – like you and me, he was wearing a Mets jersey rooting for them to win the 2015 World Series (even if he was an Oriole)
Robinson Cano – a truly charitable person who is working to stop domestic violence
Michael Conforto – willing to play any position to help the team, and when he’s hitting there’s few better
Jacob deGrom – the best pitcher in baseball
Edwin Diaz – it takes a big man to admit he had problems with the city making it easy to root for him to be dominant again.
Jeurys Familia – he came back here because he loves being a Met
Luis Guillorme – when finally given a real chance, he proved he can do much more than catch an errant bat.
Robert Gsellman – despite injury did all he could do to come back to try to pitch the Mets into the postseason like he did in 2016
Jed Lowrie – did everything he could give last year and earned those eight PH attempts
Seth Lugo – the best reliever in baseball
Steven Matz – a true blue Mets fan like us all who works to thank and help first responders
Jeff McNeil – a true throwback player who adopts puppies
Tomas Nido – strong defensive catcher who underwent elective surgery to improve his game.
Brandon Nimmo – his joy in baseball and life is only surpassed by his ability to get on base
Rick Porcello – took less to fulfill his boyhood dream of pitching for the Mets
Wilson Ramos – his learning his wife was pregnant with their next child was one of the most heartwarming parts of the 2019 season
Rene Rivera – keeps coming back to work with this pitching staff
Amed Rosario – as hardworking and exciting a player as there is, and he’s about to breakout.
Paul Sewald – a 10th round draft pick who proves himself in his scattered and limited chances
Dominic Smith – got healthy and proved himself to be a good baseball player and terrific teammate
Marcus Stroman – wants baseball to be fun, and he’s a role model to everyone showing it takes heart to be a great player (HDMH)
Noah Syndergaard – he’s standing 60′ 6″ away, and he’s the last Mets pitcher to win a World Series game.
Justin Wilson – pitched through injury to be a very reliable bullpen arm
Ultimately, even with the cheaters on the roster, this remains a very likeable team, and it is guided by a manager in Luis Rojas who Mets fans should soon love. It is hard to stay away from players like this even with their playing for absolutely despicable ownership.
When you account for Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling, the Mets broadcasts are unparalleled in their greatness. If nothing else, it is worth watching them do what they do best. It is even better when the Mets have players on the field like they will in 2020.
Combine that with wanting to share baseball with your parents, siblings, and children, and you are going to watch a team you have loved all your life. Ultimately, this is an easy team to root for, which unfortunately, is why boycotts never work, and why the Wilpons will always win.
That’s fine. We can still enjoy life and Mets baseball despite them. We can also make every effort we can to get rid of them and to let them know how much we want them gone. Sooner or later, they will be gone, and we will still be here.
Lets Go Mets!
As the Mets embarked on the offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen specifically said the Mets were looking to upgrade over Tomas Nido as a backup catching option. Given Wilson Ramos‘ durability concerns, Nido’s 40 wRC+, and pitchers like Noah Syndergaard pushing for a personal catcher, you could understand Van Wagenen’s position.
However, as it stands today, the Mets appear as if they are going to go into the 2020 season with Nido returning as the backup catcher.
Now, there are some reasons for that. Players who could have fit that mold like Robinson Chirinos and Jason Castro got starting jobs elsewhere, and they essentially signed for starter money. While we can have a debate as to the merits of not upgrading over Ramos, the fact is if the Mets wanted a pure backup, these players ultimately were not going to fit the mold.
Still looking past that, there were plenty of players who fit exactly what the Mets wanted, and yet the team didn’t strike. There was Francisco Cervelli, who signed a cheap deal with the Marlins. Worse yet, there was Kevin Plawecki who signed for under $1 million. More than any other player, Plawecki was the fit due to framing ability, familiarity with the pitching staff, and cost.
Now, when you look at the free agent market, there isn’t much left. At this point in his career, Jonathan Lucroy appears near done as a Major League caliber player. John Ryan Murphy never panned out to be the catcher some thought he might be. Really, when you parse through it all, there remains one viable option on the market – Russell Martin.
According to Baseball Savant, Martin is a strong pitch framer on the lower half of the plate. That should help Syndergaard and pitchers like Rick Porcello and Marcus Stroman. On that point, Martin actually caught Stroman.
He also had a decent season at the plate for a backup catcher with an 83 wRC+. Moreover, he is seen as a leader in the clubhouse, and he has already shown an ability to handle New York during his time with the Yankees. When looking at him, he makes a lot of sense for the Mets.
Of course, the Mets would still have to be interested in addressing one of the primary needs they laid out as the offseason opened. On that front, Van Wagenen has walked back those remarks a bit to indicate he is now comfortable with Nido and Ali Sanchez in Triple-A as his catching depth. You could see his point if he was addressing other areas of the team, but he isn’t.
Ultimately, the Mets are going to need an upgrade from their backup catcher. Based upon his career and 2019 season Martin is that guy. In fact, based on the market, he’s really the only guy remaining. If not him, the Mets are going to have to just hope Nido makes significant strides forward in 2020 while receiving very limited playing time.
With the Cleveland Indians getting a very modest package in return for Corey Kluber, it is very possible the team hastens trading Francisco Lindor. After all, by trading him sooner rather than later, you are maximizing the return you would receive in a trade. That’s important considering the Indians have already indicating they WILL NOT be re-signing the superstar shortstop.
In an attempt to figure out what the Indians could get for Lindor now, MLB.com worked out six potential trades including a possible trade with the New York Mets. The proposed trade had the Mets sending Amed Rosario, J.D. Davis, David Peterson, and Brett Baty to the Indians to obtain Lindor.
Shockingly, for some reason MLB believed the Mets may walk away with the deal feeling the offer is too much. In reality, it is likely the Indians would want more. Of course, that presumes the Indians do not see Rosario as a star in the making, or that they could see Peterson thriving in their pitching system.
Really, if this is it, the Mets should absolutely at the opportunity.
Lindor, 26, is already the best shortstop in baseball, and he is about to enter his prime seasons. As he enters those seasons, he already has two Gold Gloves (one Platinum Glove), two Silver Sluggers, and five All-Star appearances. His 4.7 bWAR this year was his “worst.”
Since his Major League debut in 2015, his 27.2 fWAR is the seventh best in the majors. Among shortstops, his 119 wRC+ is fifth best among shortstops, and his 55 DRS is third best.
When you break it down, Lindor is a legitimately great player. He’s a superstar, and having him on your team brings your franchise that much closer to being a true World Series contender. When you look at the Indians, when you have a player like Lindor and a loaded pitching staff, you can get to the World Series.
When you break it down, the only thing the Mets need to do what the Indians did in 2016 is to get Lindor. Yes, Lindor would matter that much to this team, and yes, even on a team with Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo, Lindor would be the team’s best position player.
With all due respect, he’s a significant upgrade over Rosario, even with Rosario scratching the surface in the second half last year. That improvement is in the field and in the lineup. That type of upgrade lengthens the lineup, improves the defense, and it makes everyone better.
That makes having Jake Marisnick in center everyday more palatable. It allows the Mets to sit Wilson Ramos more for a much better framer behind the plate. It allows for a lot including the team overcoming some of their problems to become a real World Series contender like the Indians were.
Sure, we can argue the Mets need a bullpen more, a backup catcher, an everyday center field, or anyone of their significant holes. More than that, the Mets need the talent to take them to the next level. Lindor is that talent, and if you are lucky, the Mets will be in a position to extend him as Cohen grows in his power over the team.
Overall, the Mets need to do what they can do to get Lindor. While is is very possible to overpay for him, in all likelihood, it is quite difficult you could argue there is s way to overpay to obtain him. Even if you do overpay, you are still walking about with a top 1o Major Leaguer who makes your team better in every aspect of the game.
To that end, if the Indians are dangling Lindor, the Mets should do all they can do to obtain him because he is that great, and his acquisition is that important. No one should stand in the way, especially those mentioned in the mock trade. When you boil it all down, Lindor is exactly what the Mets need. Lets’ hope the Mets can find a good package for him.
According to reports, the New York Mets are currently looking to upgrade their bullpen and backup catcher situation. While Tomas Nido was a strong defensive catcher, he had just a 40 wRC+, which probably necessitates this search.
Ideally, whomever the Mets acquire can offer the Nido’s defensive abilities while also providing a better bat. Also, given the Mets shoestring budget, the player they acquire is likely going to have to be cheap. Here are five catchers who should meet those requirements:
The mention of Plawecki may not excite Mets fans who had grown exacerbated with his never quite fulfilling his offensive potential. Even with his offensive struggles in Cleveland, Plawecki’s 63 wRC+ was far better than Nido’s. If he reverts to the catcher who had a 10.8% walk rate and 96 OPS+ in his final three years with the Mets all the better.
Another factor with Plawecki is he has historically been a strong pitch framer. As noted by Baseball Savant, Plawecki was a strong pitch framer on the lower half of the plate. That is of no small significance with a pitching staff which includes Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Jeurys Familia, and Edwin Diaz.
On the topic of the Mets pitchers who need the low strike to succeed, there was a Grantland article which described Martin’s strong framing, which included his exceptional work on the lower half of the zone. While he is not the same framer he was in his prime, he is still one of the better framers in the lower part of the zone getting a called strike a little over 50% of the time.
In addition to framing the low strike, Martin had a strong offensive season for a backup catcher with an 83 wRC+. However, it should be noted that was part of a three year drop off offensively, and he is 36 years old. Still, Martin is a respected veteran presence, and that should not be underestimated.
If the Mets do change course and go with the personal catcher route, it would be much more palatable to Ramos and the clubhouse for the Mets to defer to a catcher of Martin’s stature than it probably was with Nido last year. Overall, this should help the clubhouse and the pitching staff. Speaking of saving the pitching staff, Martin can be relied upon as a reliever in blow out games.
With the Mets hiring Jeremy Hefner as the pitching coach, the organization is looking for an advanced analytical approach to help bring the pitching staff to bring them to the next level. This requires the implementation of a new organizational philosophy across the board. That process could be helped along by the Mets bringing in Castro, who worked with Hefner in Minnesota.
In addition to his knowledge of what Hefner is looking to do, Castro is a strong framer, and like aforementioned catchers, he is strong in the lower parts of the zone. He is also exceptional at getting the corners. Unlike the aforementioned catchers, he was an above average league hitter with a 103 wRC+.
On that note, it was the highest mark he had in six years, and it was just the second time in the past decade he was an above-average league hitter. Of course, some of the impact to that is the ball which was much maligned last year. Despite that, Castro is still a good hitter for the position with strong framing metrics.
Looking beyond these three, it is difficult to find a catcher who would fulfill the criteria of being a better hitter than Nido as well as a strong framer, especially in the lower half of the zone. The framing in the lower half of the zone really needs to be a focus for this Mets team given their pitchers and in their attempts to find a complement to Ramos.
Other popular names like Martin Maldonado may not come as cheap, and others like a Francisco Cervelli do not have the lower half framing numbers you want. Those three catchers should be the overall upgrade at a cheap cost over Nido, who the Mets may very well lose as he is out of options.
When you’re operating on an austerity budget like the Mets are, you can’t afford to just throw away or gamble with their money. Cheap for its own sake is not going to fly. No, the team needs to be shrewd and deliberate.
Signing Michael Wacha was neither of those things.
Many will note it’s just $3 million guaranteed, but that loses the point. As noted by Tim Britton of The Athletic, Wacha can earn an additional $7 million in incentives. As such, with the way the Mets operate their team, for budget purposes, they’re likely going to treat Wacha as a $10 million player leaving them with only $3 million to spend this offseason.
That’s $3 million to build a bullpen, add depth, and get insurance for Wacha’s spot in the rotation. They need that insurance because Wacha missed the postseason with a shoulder injury. It was the second time in four years his season ended due to a shoulder injury.
The shoulder issues are just part of the problem. The larger problem is Wacha shouldn’t be relied upon on as a team’s fifth starter. He’s not striking many out, and when you dig deeper, he has an unacceptably poor 1.97 K/BB.
Turning the attention to Baseball Savant, Wacha doesn’t have Major League quality stuff anymore. His fastball velocity and spin are poor. The spin on his curve is poor as well.
About the only pitch he really effectively executes is his change. To the effect, it’s been quite effective with batters only hitting .199 off of it. The problem is batters hit all of his other pitches well.
The end result was Wacha making 24 starts and five relief appearances going 6-7 with a 4.76 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, and a 7.4 K/9. Notably, over his last 10 starts of the season, Wacha only lasted five innings three times, and he didn’t pitch at least four innings three times. Due to his shoulder injuries, he would also be left off the postseason roster.
Overall, Wacha between his injuries, stuff, and really, just his ability was not deserving of anything more than a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Wacha was the guy who needed to prove he could be healthy. For that matter, he needed to prove he was a Major League caliber starting pitcher again.
Instead, Brodie Van Wagenen gave the CAA client a guaranteed deal worth $3 million with the potential of an additional $7 million in incentives. This makes little sense for an injured pitcher with little to no upside, and that is before you consider how he’d be negatively impacted by the Mets defense or Wilson Ramos behind the plate.
At the moment, Wacha is in a boat with Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as all three are preparing to be starters with them each likely being in the bullpen to start the year. That was made all the more certain with Rick Porcello signing, which as previously explained, is not set-up for success with the Mets.
Right now, there are so many possibilities including these two signings paving the way for a trade of Noah Syndergaard or another starter. No matter what, the Mets appear to be relying upon Wacha in some fashion for 2020. Given his injuries and where his talent is now, this is really just a waste of money.