You’d be hard pressed to find a Mets fan who’d even contemplate a Yankees-Nationals World Series. After a horrible season, certainly one of the five most disappointing in Mets history, a Yankees-Nationals World Series is about the last thing Mets fans need.
Or is it?
The Mets entered the 2017 season with a $155 million payroll, which was ranked twelfth in the majors. That number was a bit deceptive as it included David Wright‘ insured contract. After the 75% reimbursement for Wright’s contract, the Mets Opening Day payroll was $140 million. That would’ve bumped them down to 15th.
Really, a Mets team who had designs on winning a World Series had a middle tier payroll. A Mets team located in the largest media market in the world was middle of the pack in spending.
That’s fine if the Mets were well constructed, but as we knew at the time, they weren’t.
Now, with the Mets facing even bigger holes this offseason, the Mets are planning to . . . wait for it . . . cut payroll. Instead of the $155 (or $140) million mark, the Mets plan to cut payroll by $135 million. They’re doing this despite having even more holes to address this offseason.
The Mets need a second baseman, third baseman, and a rebuilt bullpen. They should also consider adding a fifth starter, center fielder, backup catcher, and a capable bench. How the Mets can do all of this with less money is anyone’s guess.
Based on how the Mets have been run during the Sandy Alderson era, it seems as if the bullpen and bench will be the two poorest constructed areas. The Mets have been able to address both in the past by making in-season trades. Those trades have helped deplete the farm system.
Overall, if the Mets are going to return to being World Series contenders, they’ll have to spend. That’s hard to do unless Sandy is given more money this offseason.
That brings us back to the original Yankees-Nationals World Series point.
As much as Mets fans do not want to see it, the Wilpons want to see it even less. Remember Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports noted the Mets were “not eager” to trade Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, or really anyone to the Yankees. They didn’t want to have those players being the Mets. More than that, they don’t want to see the Yankees in the spotlight.
Likely, they don’t want to see Daniel Murphy leading the Nationals to the World Series. With everything Murphy has done since leaving the Mets, he makes the Mets look worse and worse. Seeing Murphy having a third straight terrific postseason may be too much for this franchise to bear. That goes double when you consider the Mets have a gaping hole at second base – one that could have been filled by Murphy if the Mets weren’t so eager to get rid of him.
If the Yankees and Nationals make the World Series, it would just rub salt in the Mets wounds. On the American League side, you have a team the Mets cannot bear to see successful. On the National League side, you have the Mets biggest competition in the division going to the World Series led by a former fan favorite. That’s a lot for an image conscious ownership group to bear.
Who knows? If that happens, maybe it will spurn the Mets to action. We could actually see the Mets open up their pocketbooks to address the needs of this team. Adding some players to a solid foundation of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Yoenis Cespedes, and Michael Conforto could very well propel this team back to where they were in 2015.
Then again, maybe the Mets don’t spend the money they need to fix this team. If they’re not going to spend the money, then they deserve the indignity of seeing the Nationals and Yankees in the World Series. They deserve to get their own personal worst case scenario. The hope for Mets fans is it will be too much for them to bear that they will finally do something about it.
When determining which team to root for this postseason, the general rule of thumb is to root against the Mets rivals. With the Mets making a number of trades this season, you could also root for teams according to their Mets connections:
East – Boston Red Sox
Assistant Pitching Coach – Brian Bannister (2006)
Bannister made the Mets out if Spring Training in 2006. His tenure was short lived as he injured his hamstring, and Omar Minaya rebuilt the rotation in-season pushing a healthy Bannister out. He’d be moved that offseason in an ill-fated trade for Ambiorix Burgos.
RHP Blaine Boyer (2011)
Boyer pitched just five games for the Mets before leaving via free agency. He would not pitch in the majors again until 2014.
RHP Addison Reed (2015 – 2017)
Acquired on the eve of September, Reed quickly became an important seventh inning reliever on the Mets pennant winning team. He was even better the next season helping pitch the Mets back to the postseason. With Jeurys Familia‘s suspension and injury, Reed became an effective closer before being traded for a trio of Red Sox relief prospects at the trade deadline.
OF Chris Young (2014)
After a few down years, the Mets took a one year gamble on Young. He struggled all year, and he was released with the Mets eight games under .500 and 10.5 games back in the division. Since that time, Young has been a much more effective player.
Central – Cleveland Indians
First Base Coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. (2007 – 2009)
Alomar ended his playing career playing eight games with the Mets in 2007. He would then begin his coaching career with the Mets serving two years as a special catching instructor.
RF Jay Bruce (2016-2017)
Bruce went from bust who struggled mightily after being acquired at the trade deadline last year to fan favorite this year. Fortunately for the Indians, Bruce wouldn’t repeat his struggles helping propel the Indians to 102 wins.
RHP Joe Smith (2007 – 2008)
Smith went straight from being a third round draft pick in 2006 to being a very good reliever for the Mets in two seasons. Ironically, he moved as part the three team J.J. Putz trade intended to improve the Mets bullpen.
West – Houston Astros
DH Carlos Beltran (2005 – 2011)
Seeing him in the postseason again will certainly evoke memories of Adam Wainwright, but he was so much more than that in a Mets uniform. Beltran was the best center fielder in Mets history and perhaps their best outfielder ever.
C Juan Ceteno (2013 – 2014)
Ceteno is a strong defensive catcher who played just 14 games over two years before he was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Bench Coach Alex Cora (2009 – 2010)
Cora joined the Mets in the hopes of being an important utility player on a playoff caliber team. Unfortunately, injuries and a ballpark ill-suited for the talents of the players on the roster brought that run to an end.
Hitting Coach Dave Hudgens (2011 – 2014)
Hudgens was the Mets hitting coach who was entrusted with helping the Mets adapt to a new ballpark. While he was much embattled in the position, Mets offensive highlights during his tenure included Ike Davis hitting 30 homers and the last great season from David Wright.
Pitching Coach Brent Strom (1972)
Strom was the Mets 1970 first round draft pick. He appeared in just one season with the team going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP.
Third Base Coach Gary Pettis (2003 – 2004)
Pettis served as the first base and outfield coach during the Art Howe Era.
Wild Card – New York Yankees
RHP Luis Cessa
Cessa was the other pitching prospect the Mets sent to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes trade.
Wild Card – Minnesota Twins
Pitching Coach Neil Allen (1979 – 1983)
While Allen had a noteworthy Mets career of his own, he will forever be known as one of the two players traded by the Mets in exchange for Keith Hernandez.
RHP Bartolo Colon (2014 – 2016)
“Big Sexy” became a fan favorite and a mentor to the young pitchers in the clubhouse. There are a number of highlights you can choose from his Mets career, but the one that keeps coming to mind was the unbelievable home run he hit in San Diego last year.
RHP Dillon Gee (2010 – 2015)
Gee is an example of a pitcher who has gotten everything out of his ability. He has been resilient overcoming a number of injuries in his career with his career highlight possibly being his named the Mets 2014 Opening Day starter.
East – Washington Nationals
OF Alejandro De Aza (2016)
De Aza had an interesting year with the Mets. He was terrible to begin the year, and he then had a great July helping propel the Mets second half run to the Wild Card.
Pitching Coach Mike Maddux (1993 – 1994)
Maddux pitched two years for the Mets pitching to a 4.16 ERA as a reliever before departing via free agency.
2B Daniel Murphy (2008 – 2015)
Somehow Murphy has become one of the most divisive players among the Mets fanbase. Many still fondly remember his for his time witht he Mets, especially his incredible NLDS and NLCS propelling the Mets to the pennant. Others see a player who annihilates the Mets since leaving the team.
LHP Oliver Perez (2006 – 2010)
Believe it or not, there was a time where Perez was beloved for his Game 7 performance and his start the final game of the 2008 season. He then fell off a cliff upon receiving a huge contract. Things got so bad, he refused a minor league assignment, and his last appearance as a Met would be the team throwing him into the 14th inning on the last game of the season just to get the game over with.
Central – Cubs
Quality Control Coach Henry Blanco (2010)
“Hank White” was brought on as a defensive back-up, and he excelled in the role throwing out 50% of base stealers.
C Rene Rivera (2016 – 2017)
Rivera was a defensive specialist who helped Noah Syndergaard overcome his issues holding on base runners. It was more than Syndergaard, Rivera served as a mentor for young starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman who helped pitch the Mets to the Wild Card.
West – Dodgers
Bench Coach Bob Geren (2012 – 2015)
Geren served as the bench coach for the Mets serving as a mentor for the Mets catchers. Since his departure, we have seen Mets catchers regress in their pitch framing, and we have certainly seen Travis d’Arnaud regress in nearly every aspect of his game.
OF Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2017)
Granderson is one of the finest men to ever put on a Mets uniform. He also came up biggest when the Mets needed him most. Granderson kept the Mets afloat in 2015, and if not for some blown leads, he was in line to be the MVP of that series. His big outburst to end the 2016 season helped lead the Mets back to the postseason.
3B Justin Turner (2010 – 2013)
Turner was an effective utility player in his years with the Mets who was really non-tendered because he was arbitration eligible. Turner would find himself a home in Los Angeles where he has become a terrific player.
Third Base Coach Chris Woodward (2005 – 2006)
Woodward was a valuable utility player for the Mets for two seasons having the second best season of his entire career in 2005.
Wild Card – Diamondbacks
RHP Matt Koch (2012 – 2015)
Koch was one of the two minor league pitchers traded by the Mets for Addison Reed. While Koch is on the 40 man roster, it is not expected he will be on the postseason roster.
Wild Card – Rockies
Based on the sheer volume of Mets affiliations, it would appear Mets fans would be pulling for the Astros in the American League and either the Nationals or Dodgers in the National League. Considering the presence of Chase Utley on the Dodgers and the recent rivalry with the Nationals, most Mets fans will understandably choose rooting interests for different reasons all together.
Is anyone surprised the Mets decided to smear Terry Collins before parting ways with him this offseason? Well, you shouldn’t be because it follows a pattern from this organization since the Wilpons have taken control of the team. While full ownership did not fully transfer until 2002, the Wilpons had gradually gained control throughout the years and were really front in center with an already hands-off Doubleday suffering health issues.
Coming off the heels of the 2000 World Series, Alex Rodriguez made it well known he wanted to play for the Mets, the team he’s always loved. Instead of the team letting themselves get outbid, they declared him to be a 24 and one player.
Instead of thanking managers like Bobby Valentine and Art Howe for their service, they talked about how their teams quit on them, which is as damning a statement you can make against a manager. Things went further for Howe calling him soft, weak, boring, and out of touch.
As poorly as Howe was treated on the way out, it pales in comparison to how Willie Randolph was treated. This went beyond the accusations he was out of touch and couldn’t get through to his players. No, they had to fly him out to California and fire him at 3:00 A.M. after a win! They then replaced him with Jerry Manuel, who was the person bad mouthing Randolph behind his back with, you guessed it, Jeff Wilpon.
It wasn’t just managers that received this treatment. Remember what happened with Yoenis Cespedes in the 2015 offseason? When the team made it clear they had wanted to pass on re-signing him? First, he was a round peg in a square hole that couldn’t handle center. It wasn’t just that, we heard whispers about whether a team could trust Cespedes on a long-term deal.
Now, the Mets have turned their attention to Collins. Reading Marc Carig’s Newsday article on the subject, the team couldn’t help but tear him down before parting ways with him this offseason. Reading the column, you can see the Mets have gotten much better at this detailing all of his faults:
- Constant tactical blunders;
- Resisted input;
- Poor relationship with players;
- Shielded by Fred Wilpon from firing;
- Front office had no confidence in him;
- Abused relief pitchers;
- No interest in playing young guys;
- Played players like Jeurys Familia into injuries;
- Inmates ran the asylum; and
- Team was miserable.
Any Mets fans who has paid attention to the team could tell you any of the above was true. We saw Collins staple Michael Conforto to the bench for under-performing veterans. He pressured Steven Matz to pitch through the pain. There was the drama surrounding Asdrubal Cabrera‘s position switch. There have been a wake of injured relievers during his career. All of the above has proven to be true.
Through all of it, the Mets kept Collins. They dismissed these concerns and even put forth the illusion he was great handling the clubhouse. However, now that Collins is on his way out, those positive narratives are gone; replaced by the truth or something close to it.
The sad part is this is completely unnecessary. Collins dutifully serves this organization since 2010 and managed them since 2011. He led the team to consecutive postseasons and delivered a pennant. Despite all of this, we all knew this was the end, and really, there was no one asking for him to return to the Mets. Most agreed it was time for the Mets to select a new manager, a new direction.
For some reason, the Mets couldn’t leave well enough alone. They had to tear the guy down on his way out. Sadly, this is not a new low for the organization because you can’t get any lower than how they treated Randolph. Rather, the team has become better and more efficient at doing it.
With the way Collins has been treated it makes you question what type of manager would be willing to accept a job from the Mets considering how they are treated and smeared on their way out the door.
With the rumors the Mets will be looking for a manger to replace Terry Collins this offseason, the teams is likely going to focus on the obvious candidates. This includes Tim Teufel, Bob Geren, and Dick Scott. Each candidate have their own merits, but none of them are really a bold move the Mets may need to make this offseason to help turn their team around. In order to do that, the Mets may have to think outside the box.
To that end, maybe the Mets should consider hiring Alex Rodriguez to be their new manager this offseason. Many will be quick to dismiss the notion, but there are many reasons why A-Rod could be a worthwhile choice to succeed Collins:
#1 A-Rod Understands What Sandy Wants in His Manager
During an August 17, 2017 WFAN radio interview with Mike Francesca, A-Rod described the modern manager’s role as one of “a CEO of a public company.” The basis of this comparison is A-Rod believes the manager’s job is now to take the information provided by the front office and to find the best way to communicate that information to the players.
By reputation, Sandy Alderson does not want the old school manager who flies by the seat of his pants and controls everything in the dugout. He wants someone who goes out there and follows his instructions. Based upon the comments A-Rod has made, it would seem he has a fundamental understanding on what Alderson wants.
#2 A-Rod Has a Relationship with Kevin Long
While the Mets might be looking for a new manager, it seems the team may well want to keep both Dan Warthen and Kevin Long in place. If that is the Mets intention, they are going to need to find a manager who will work well with the retained coaches. That could be Geren based upon his tenure as the Mets bench coach. That could also be A-Rod, who worked well with Kevin Long during their mutual time together with the Yankees. More importantly, there is a mutual respect between the two, which would serve as a solid foundation for a new working relationship.
#3 A-Rod Works Well with Young Players
During his tenure with the Yankees, A-Rod has been given credit for serving as a mentor for young players like Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera. Apparently, that was not just a special relationship he had with those players, but rather a willingness to serve as a mentor to young players. That is something that continued with the current crop of young Yankees. As Gary Sanchez said of A-Rod, “He’s always given us good advice. On and off the field, he’s always been there for us, he always has time for us. One thing he has told me is about creating a routine, a routine that I can use to prepare myself for every game.” (Newsday)
With A-Rod, you have an individual who has a willingness and an ability to effectively communicate with young players. Better yet, he’s able to show them how to best succeed at the Major League level. With so much of next year and the next decade hinging on young players like Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, you need someone who is best able to get through to them and help them. That could be A-Rod.
#4 A-Rod Is Bilingual
If you pay attention to the post-game, you will see Melissa Rodriguez translating for Spanish speaking players like Yoenis Cespedes. That is all well and good for an interview, but that’s not good for the player-manager relationship. The two need to be able to communicate. A-Rod’s ability to speak English and Spanish permits him to effectively communicate with all of the players in his clubhouse.
#5 A-Rod Has Played for Great Managers
During A-Rod’s playing days, he has had the opportunity to play for Lou Piniella, Johnny Oates, Jerry Narron, Buck Showalter, Joe Torre, and Joe Girardi. That group of managers have won 10 Manager of the Year Awards, 28 division titles, 8 pennants, and 6 World Series.
Each of these mangagers were good to great in their own right, and each one of them had different managing styles. Certainly, each one of them left an impression on A-Rod as to what is the best way to manage a team and how to best communicate with your players. Like all first time managers, A-Rod will have to find his voice. He will be aided in doing so by his having played for some of the best managers of his generation.
#6 A-Rod Understands Decline
Throughout the 2016 season, A-Rod struggled to the point where the Yankees finally had to inform him that if he didn’t retire, the team was going to release him. At that point, A-Rod had to face reality and admit he was no longer the player he once was. That’s an avenue this current Mets team is going to have to navigate.
Both David Wright and Matt Harvey have dealt with a number of physical problems. With each day that passes, each of them is further and further away from being the players they once were. Having someone like A-Rod as the manager would provide both players with a sounding board to help them navigate the season both physically and mentally.
#7 A-Rod Understands the Media
A manager of a New York team is also a media personality. They have to be able to face the media multiple times a day and answer the tough questions. With his postseason struggles and his PED suspension, A-Rod has had to face the tough questions time and again. He’s weathered the storm, and he has come out the other side.
And now that he’s retired, A-Rod is a member of the media. He does studio shows for Fox earning rave reviews, and he has done a few games as a color commentator. With that, he’s become even more polished than he already was leaving him better able to face the media.
#8 A-Rod Creates Buzz
Look, after the 2017 season the Mets need to change the narrative. They’re an injury prone team who doesn’t go out there and spend money. This has led the fans to become either angry or apathetic. That’s not a good situation for a Major League organization, especially one that is raising ticket prices for next season.
At a minimum, hiring A-Rod would create a buzz. Love it or hate it, it would be a bold move for the organization, and bold moves typically generate excitement. That type of excitement can at times become infectious and energize an entire organization.
There’s also the fact the Mets will need to pursue a number of free agents. Possibly, A-Rod, a player who is still respected by many players across the majors, could be used as a recruiting tool. If true, that will create an even bigger buzz because better players mean more wins which will help turn those angry and apathetic fans into excited ones.
#9 A-Rod Loved the Mets
Back in the 2000 offseason, it was assumed A-Rod was going to be a Met because A-Rod grew up a Mets fan. Like the rest of us, A-Rod loved that 1986 Mets team, and he wanted to bring the Mets their next championship. He never did get that chance after Steve Phillips described A-Rod as a 24 and one player.
A-Rod has been able to accomplish much in his career, but the one thing he was never able to do was to wear a Mets uniform and deliver a World Series to his favorite team. It could be an opportunity that he couldn’t overlook, and it may be one that drives him.
#10 A-Rod Is Fireable
For all the calls from Mets fans to make Wright the Mets next manager, is the fact that one day the Mets will have to fire him. Managers are hired to one day be fired. No Mets fan wants to see their beloved Wright be fired by the team. No, you want a manager who could readily be fired. That’s A-Rod.
However, in order to be fired, you need to first be hired. There are certain impediments there from his lack of experience to whether he’d ever be interested in managing in the big leagues. If he is somehow interested, the Mets should definitely inquire because he just might be exactly what the Mets need in their next manager.
Editor’s Note: This was first published on MetsMerizedOnline
Michael Taylor nailing a slower than molasses Cabrera at home by a healthy margin:
From Downtown! pic.twitter.com/nTifaslvLw
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 26, 2017
Robert Gsellman certainly didn’t look like a guy who cared whether his manager thought he needed to improve.
The first inning rally got started on an error from him, and he threw a wild pitch allowing a run to score. Before the inning ended it was 4-0 Nationals.
It was a gorgeous sunny day outside, and my son wanted to go play baseball outside with me.
No, not even with Wilmer Flores going 4-4 with a run, double, home run, and three RBI.
Judging from the 9-4 final score, I made the raise decision.
Game Notes: Travis Taijeron made his Major League debut going 0-4. Jeurys Familia made his first appearance since returning from the disabled list. He pitched one inning allowing three runs on four hits and two walks.
With the Nationals getting in at 6:00 A.M., Dusty Baker put out a lineup that looked like the Nationals Triple-A affiliate with Daniel Murphy. For their part the Mets put out a similar looking lineup because, well, the Mets are bad and injured.
If you think it couldn’t get worse for the Mets, it did. In the top of that first, Yoenis Cespedes pulled up lame running to third base. Once again, Cespedes left the game with a leg injury.
The shame of the play was the Dominic Smith single hit the second base umpire. It was a dead ball costing him an RBI, and it helped kill a Mets first inning rally.
Speaking of short, the Mets had an insanely short bench tonight. The team had just a three man bench with one of those players being backup catcher Kevin Plawecki.
This was mostly the result of the soul crushing Michael Conforto injury, and the Mets having no viable options on the 40 man roster. With Jeurys Familia being ready to return after his rehab stint, the Mets chose to activate him instead.
The end result was the Mets having a two man bench when Matt Reynolds came in to pinch run for Cespedes.
Fortunately, it wouldn’t matter as Jacob deGrom was his deGrominant self. For a while, it seemed like he could get a no-hitter tonight. He certainly had the stuff, and the Nationals had the lineup.
Still, your heart was in your throat during the game with deGrom. First, he is a Mets pitcher. Second, the Mets luck somehow got worse. Third, he was fouling balls off his leg, and he seemed to pull up lame legging out an infield single in the second.
By some miracle, deGrom was healthy, and he was able to get the win. His final line was 7.2 innings, five hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and 10 strikeouts.
In Matt Grace‘s second inning of work, the Mets went to work. It started with a Juan Lagares lead-off double. While many were contemplating the bunt, Terry Collins let Reynolds swing away, and Reynolds rewarded Collins’ faith with an RBI single.
Cabrera followed with a double setting up second and third with no out. Collins again showed a young player some faith, and he was again rewarded. Collins left Smith in to face the left-handed Grace, and Smith delivered with a sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.
With Murphy coming to the plate as the tying run, Collins went to Jerry Blevins, who got a huge strikeout to end the inning.
In the ninth, Nimmo created a run. He reached with a one out single, and he put himself in scoring position with his first career stolen base. He then scored on a Lagares RBI single making it a 4-1 game.
He was greeted with an Adam Lind homer to dead center to make it 4-2.
Things got interesting when Wilmer Difo followed the Lind homer with a double. Ramos then gave us all a heart attack hanging one to Anthony Rendon, who just hit one foul. Instead, he walked Rendon setting up first and second with one out.
Things got really troubling when Ramos walked Matt Wieters to load the bases. For some reason while this was all happening, Collins sat Sewald and had none of his other fifty relievers in his bullpen warming up.
Nimmo came in and would catch a Difo rope, and he made the perfunctory throw home. While that was happening, Rendon strayed too far from second, but Witt the throw home, Rendon had time to get back.
It ultimately didn’t matter as Ramos struck out the final batter of the game to preserve the 4-2 win and deGrom’s 14th win of the year.
Normally, with a game like this, you would leave the game feeling good about the Mets. deGrom was great, and he recorded his 200th strikeout of the season. Nimmo looks like a lead-off hitter reaching base three times, and his stealing his first career base. Lagares’ bat got going. The young Mets beat the Nationals.
However, there is still a hangover with Conforto’s injury and uncertain future. On top of that, Cespedes is once again on the shelf.
Really, this team continues to finds ways to make things more depressing.
Game Notes: For Player’s Weekend, the players were allowed to put nicknames on their jerseys. For the newer call-ups, there apparently wasn’t enough time to get them a nickname jersey. With respect to Nimmo, his choice, “You Found Nimmo” wasn’t permitted due to potential Disney copyright violations.
After learning Michael Conforto is going to need shoulder surgery, there is no longer any doubt he is going to miss the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, Conforto is not going to hit that 30 home run threshold he was ever so close to hitting. He might’ve got there if he entered the season as the starter. As we all remember, he had to wait for his injuries to create an opportunity for him. Now with him being injured, there is going to be an opportunity created for two other players – Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo.
Lagares was once considered the Mets center fielder of the present and the future. After winning the 2014 Gold Glove, he entered the 2015 season as the Opening Day starter and the proud owner of a five year $19 million contract extension. Lagares would regress on the field and at the plate leading to the Mets obtaining Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline.
Since the 2015 season, Lagares’ glove has returned, but he can’t stay on the field. Two years in a row, Lagares has suffered thumb injuries knocking him out for a long duration. But when he is on the field, he has been great. Currently, he is ranked third in the majors with a 12 DRS in center despite playing less than half the innings of anyone else in the top 10. It should come as no surprise he ranks first in the majors with a 30.4 UZR/150.
The question with Lagares is and continues to be his bat. In his 60 games played, he is just hitting .246/.294/.357. He’s also not hitting well against LHP like he typically does. Still, there is a little over left in the season where Lagares can work on his offensive game where he could at least hit enough to justify putting his glove in the lineup everyday. Or at a minimum, find out if he can indeed be part of a platoon.
The perfect choice for a platoon partner for him would be Nimmo.
The Mets 2011 first round draft pick is developing into a prototypical lead-off hitter. In 34 games this season, he has a .391 OBP, and in his brief major league career, he has a .361 OBP. In his nine games hitting in the lead-off spot, Nimmo is hitting .241/.353/.414 with two doubles, a homer, and four RBI. This is a short sample size for sure, but it should be noted he was a good lead-off hitter with the Las Vegas 51s. Over parts of the past three seasons in Triple-A, Nimmo has a .403 OBP, which his having the best OBP in the Pacific Coast League last year.
The question for Nimmo is whether his bat will truly translate to the majors. Yes, his patience and his knowledge of the strike zone has and will translate well. However, the question is whether he would hit enough to justify him playing everyday. This is his chance.
Between Lagares and Nimmo, they needed an opportunity to play everyday to show the Mets they could be considered the team’s center fielder next year. They have it now, and now the Mets can make a better educated decision this offseason as to whether Nimmo and Lagares could be part of the solution or whether the team needs to go out there and obtain a Lorenzo Cain.
Of course, the key to all of this is Terry Collins putting both Lagares and Nimmo in the lineup everyday. There are no excuses now with the team no longer having any more major league quality outfielders on the 40 man roster.
Rafael Montero pitched much better than the score indicated with him getting dinked and dunked for the three runs he did allow. Yoenis Cespedes is hitting for power once again with him hitting a double and a homer in the game. Amed Rosario completed a nifty unassisted double play on a liner up the middle. Kevin Plawecki threw out a base stealer. Gavin Cecchini reached twice and scored a run. In the end none of this happens because this happened to Michael Conforto:
The worst four seconds of my life pic.twitter.com/ihqVrPqkem
— Good Fundies (@goodfundies) August 24, 2017
Early returns are Conforto suffered a dislocated shoulder on the play leading Ron Darling to talk about his own history with shoulder dislocations letting us all know they tend to be chronic. It’s a good thing too because watching it happen certainly wasn’t depressing enough.
Just to let you know how bizarre a season it has been for Mets fans, Mets fans were actually relieved this was just a dislocation. They were understandably anticipating an amputation. You could just envision the scene in the clubhouse with the Mets covering Conforto with leeches and getting him drunk on whiskey before giving him a bit to chomp on before Ray Ramirez came over with the saw.
Likely, this was Conforto’s last game of the season meaning he’s not getting to 30 homers this season. We also don’t get to see him finish off what was a brilliant season for him. We can only hope the Mets don’t mess this one up like they have with Matt Harvey time and again.
Overall, the Mets lost this game 3-2, but who cares? The real loss here was Conforto.
Game Notes: With a doubleheader on Sunday, the Mets are hoping Seth Lugo can start in the second game. If his bullpen does not go well tomorrow, the Mets will call Marcos Molina up from Double-A. If he does get called-up, he will join Chris Flexen in getting called straight up from Binghamton to start a game for the Mets.
There are a number of areas the Mets need to address this offseason including both center field and lead-off hitter. Either one of those areas could be addressed through free agency or perhaps the trade market. However, before going down that route, the Mets should take a long look at Brandon Nimmo this season.
The 2011 first round draft pick, the first of the Sandy Alderson Era, just became the fourth rookie in Mets history to reach safely in every plate appearance. That was also the second straight game Nimmo lead off the game for the Mets with a double. Simply put, this is a player with the skills to be a Major League lead-off hitter.
So far this season, Nimmo has a .410 OBP in 62 plate appearances. Dating back to last season, Nimmo has a .369 major league OBP in 142 major league plate appearances. For sure, this is a small sample size, but Nimmo has shown the ability to get on base during his minor league career. In fact, Nimmo’s .410 OBP last year was the best in the Pacific Coast League.
As for his defense, John Sickels of Minor League Ball wrote last year, “his defensive instincts are impressive and he is a quality defender in center field.” Certainly, in the small sample we have seen of him, he has shown he has the tools to be a good center fielder. He has the speed to more than adequately play the position. His arm is strong enough to play out there.
Still, there is a some lingering doubt about the Mets faith in his ability to play there. In his 21 major league starts, Nimmo has only started four of them in center. During that time, the Mets have started Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Alejandro De Aza over him in center. Even if it is not determinative of how the Mets feel about his skills in center, it is certainly not a glowing review. Still, with his skill set, Nimmo should benefit from the coaching from Tom Goodwin, who has shown himself to be a good Major League outfield coach.
There’s also the matter of his ability to stay on the field. In four of the last five seasons, Nimmo has spent some time on the disabled list. He had knee surgery in 2013, which robbed him of some of his speed. In reality, this isn’t a matter of chronic issues, and the collapsed lung was a bit of a freak injury. Still, if you are concerned about that, you could platoon him with Juan Lagares.
With Lagares, the Mets have an elite defensive center fielder, who cannot hit right-handed pitching. You also have an immovable contract with him making $6.5 million in 2018 and $9 million the next. He also has some of his own injury issues missing time in consecutive seasons with injuries to the same thumb. Even with Nimmo having a platoon neutral bat, platooning the two players would serve to keep both fresh, and it would help the Mets get Lagares’ glove in the lineup.
However, it is more important to get Nimmo’s bat in the lineup and his glove in center field right now. The Mets need to find out if they need to address center field and a lead-off hitter this offseason. The Mets don’t really know if they need to look outside the organization to address those needs until they find out what they have in Nimmo. It’s time to find that out now.
Like he has most of his career, Cespedes has failed to hustle this year. While deemed acceptable when things are going well, this becomes an issue for everyone.
When he comes to Gsellman, he basically said as much. Well, that’s a bit of a stretch. When he was told Sandy Alderson said he needed to pitch better, Gsellman replied he didn’t care.
On the field tonight against a very good Diamondbacks team, they were both very good.
Gsellman was reminiscent of the pitcher we saw last year. He mostly kept the ball out of the air preventing him from being victimized by the long ball. With a much better defense behind him, which somehow included Wilmer Flores making some nice plays at third, Gsellman went deep into the game.
In the odd chance the ball was in the air, the outfield got to those balls. This included Cespedes making not one but two hustle plays in the outfield.
With the defense playing well behind him, and his sinker working, Gsellman arguably had his best start of the year. His final line was 6.1 innings, five hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and three strikeouts.
Even with that terrific outing, he still didn’t get the win because the Mets offense continued to squander their scoring opportunities against Taijuan Walker.
The Mets could bring home Brandon Nimmo after he lead-off the top of the first with a double.
Wilmer Flores and Dominic Smith lead off the second with consecutive singles. Amed Rosario struck out. After Kevin Plawecki intentionally walked to load the bases, Gsellman struck out, and Nimmo lined out.
Flores came up in the third with runners at first and second with one out, and he grounded into the 6-4-3 inning ending double play.
Plawecki’s two out double in the fourth didn’t amount to anything with Gsellman hitting it back to the pitcher.
Plawecki came up in the sixth with runners on the corners and two outs. It would be runners on second and third after Rosario stole second. David Hernandez came on for Rubby De La Rosa, and he got Plawecki to tap it back to him to end the inning.
Finally, the Mets broke through in the sixth.
Travis d’Arnaud, who came on for Plawecki in a double switch in the top half of the inning, hit a lead-off double. Nimmo then sacrificed him to third.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Conforto then earned walks to load the bases putting the game in Cespedes’ hands. As noted above, he played this game with a different energy than he has been playing with for most of the season.
Cespedes battled back from 0-2 against Archie Bradley to rip an RBI single past a diving Jake Lamb to tie the game.
It only tied the game because David Peralta nailed Cabrera at the plate. It’s a tough play to pin blame on anyone. With it being so close, it was a good send by Glenn Sherlock. Likely, Cabrera would’ve been safe if his leg was on the ground instead of in the air. You can’t blame Cabrera because that was just tough luck.
In any event, after a Flores foul out, this was now a battle of the bullpens.
The Mets went to Erik Goeddel in a rare second straight day of work to pitch the 10th. In a rare appearance on consecutive days. We saw the reason why he rarely does this.
The homer snapped a Meys bullpen 17.2 streak of not allowing an earned run.
Mets still has a chance in the bottom of the 10th with the heart of the lineup due up against Diamondbacks closer Fernando Rodney.
Conforto got the inning off on the right foot hitting an opposite field lead-off home run to pull the Meys within 3-2. That’s as close as the Mets got as Rodney set down Cespedes, Flores, and Smith to end the game.
The main thing that really stood out today was the Mets played with a different energy. At this point in the season, it’s all we can reasonably expect. Well that and better situational hitting.
When that happen, we will see a much better brand of baseball much like we saw tonight.