Yoenis Cespedes

Mets Blew A Chance

With the Mets winning 8-6 yesterday in what was an odd and messy game between two also rans, the Mets took the season series against the Nationals for the first time since 2015.

This only underscores just how vulnerable the Nationals were this year.

There was an opportunity for the Mets to take this division. The Mets record against the rest of the NL East further proves this out:

  • Atlanta 4-12
  • Philadelphia 11-8
  • Miami 10-6

Even with their struggles against the Braves, the Mets are two games over .500 in the division. Seeing how well the Mets performed in their own division, you have to question what went wrong.

We all know the answer. It was that 5-21 June.

During that month, the Mets tried to play Jay Bruce despite him being too injured to play. Same for Asdrubal Cabrera. Neither played well.

Devin Mesoraco and Jose Reyes played more than younger counterparts, and they underperformed.

All of this offset a Jose Bautista return to form making him a surprise contributor. Still, that Bautista contributing highlights a key problem.

The Mets answer is always to go older, older and more injury prone. We see the Mets have a healthy foster, they can compete, but when are they ever healthy?

They’re not, and it continues to be an issue. The Mets keep getting older, and they make unnecessary gambles. For example, Reyes was playing over Luis Guillorme and Jeff McNeil.

The McNeil case was the worst of them all.

First, he wasn’t much of a prospect. Then, he couldn’t play third base. Now, the Mets are pinpointing second as a position they could upgrade at this offseason. They wouldn’t feel this way if they observed McNeil this season.

This is emblematic of how this organization’s views on how to build a roster. Worse yet, despite evidence to the contrary, they repeat this behavior.

This is why 2018 fell apart. That is why we should treat the 2019 version with skepticism, at least until such time as the Mets change the way they conduct their business.

That’s why, even with the this window opening, the Mets could not take advantage. If they continue operating the same way, they’ll continue not competing.

Mets Should Still Keep Wilmer Flores

Mets folk hero and utility player Wilmer Flores has been diagnosed with arthritis in both of his knees, and there are some indications the Mets are will non-tender him this offseason making him a free agent a year earlier than scheduled. In many ways, this seems like an odd decision.

For starters, the Mets have not shied away from giving money to injured and injury prone players.  The Mets gave Yoenis Cespedes $110 million knowing he had calcified heels which would one day require surgical correction.  In a similar circumstance to Flores, the Mets opted to keep Matt Harvey by giving him $5.625 million despite Harvey’s Tommy John, TOS, and stress reaction issues over the past four years.

Perhaps more analogous to the aforementioned situatiosn, the Mets gave Jay Bruce $39 million even though the team had no need for a left-hand hitting corner outfielder and Bruce having a history of knee issues. In fact, back in 2014, Bruce would have surgery to repair partially torn meniscus.  As noted by UW Medicine, a torn meniscus could lead to arthritis.  While we do not know if Bruce has arthritis or not, that is an assumed risk the Mets took despite having Cespedes, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo on the 40 man roster.

When it comes to Bruce, what the Mets really cared about here was production and Bruce’s ability to stay on the field.  It was a risk that backfired.  What is interesting with Flores is he was able to stay on the field, and he was able to produce.

From June 15th until September 1st, Flores was an everyday player for the Mets.  In that stretch, he hit .281/.325/.446 with 17 doubles, eight homers, and 35 RBI.  Over this stretch, he had a 110 wRC+.  Among players with 250 plate appearances over this stretch, that wRC+ was fourth best among MLB first basemen.  It would have also ranked as fourth best among second baseman and sixth among third baseman.

Overall, Flores’ bat will play at any infield position.  More than that, time and again, we have seen Flores is capable of taking over a position for an extended stretch of time while giving the Mets good production.  That’s an important thing when the Mets actively signs players like Bruce who they will know will miss time.

When further analyzing the roster, you realize the Mets need Flores’ right-handed bat.

Looking at the projected 2019 roster, the Mets are going to heavily rely on left-handed bats.  In addition to Bruce, Conforto, and Nimmo, the Mets also have Jeff McNeil.  Outside of Todd Frazier, the Mets do not have any real right-handed power bats on the roster.  It’s possible Amed Rosario could be that one day, but he’s not there yet.

Point being, when the Mets face a tough left-handed pitcher, they will need a player like Flores who they can put into the lineup.  He could spell McNeil at second, or he could move over to first for Bruce.  With respect to Bruce, it would help keep him fresher and hopefully more productive.

You could argue this spot could be filled by T.J. Rivera, but no one knows if he will be able to play next year.  More than that, the Mets would be a stronger team with a stronger bench if they have both Flores and Rivera.

This is not to suggest Flores isn’t without his flaws.  He is not a good defender at any position even if he is passable on the right side of the infield.  While his knees have not forced him to the disabled list, he has been injury prone, even if they are freak injuries like him fouling a ball off his face.

Still, Flores is a player who is a perfect fit for this roster.  More than that, he is a player who is a fan favorite, and he has shown himself to be clutch as well with him being the Mets all-time leader in walk-off RBI.  Taking all of this into account, the Mets would be foolish to parts ways with Flores over a one-year commitment, especially when we know the Mets will not reinvest that money and sign a player anywhere near as good as Flores.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Level Of Anger Over Mets Handling Of Wright

When telling the history of the New York Mets, you will have to include the story of David Wright.  Wright was not only one of the best players in franchise history, but he was also one of the most beloved players.  More than that, Wright’s tale is a story of perseverance with respect to how he keeps battling back from spinal stenosis and a litany of other ailments.

Certainly, the end of Wright’s career is a story of tragedy with many looking for a story of redemption at the end.  With the Mets currently 12 games under .500, there is no better opportunity to finally allow Wright to play in front of his daughters.  It is also a good opportunity to allow Mets fans to say good-bye to one of the most beloved players in franchise history.

It seems that while the Mets will allow Wright to play in rehab and simulated games, they are not willing to let him play in Major League games.  The Mets will say he’s not physically ready to play while many believe this is just a way for the Mets to not give up the insurance money.  More than ever, there seems to be anger among Mets fans over the perception the team is allowing the insurance money to stand in the way of Wright playing again.

With that as the backdrop, our Mets Bloggers have offered their opinions and level of anger over the situation:

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

11 out of 10.

Good: let David play when he wants.

Bad: Don’t let David play because it’ll save you money. Worst: don’t let David play because it will save you money, but while doing so, put on a charade that you’re trying to let him play in a few days and that there’s still something he has do to. Of course the Wilpons chose the worst option.

Michael Mayer (MMO & MMN)

I have nothing to add to his perfect statement

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

Anger would eminate from passion … a will to fight. I’m not sure it’s worth it to fight the stupidity of an organization that specializes in same the bad optics that they love to bring up when Yoenis Cespedes plays golf on his off days. Especially when “bad optics” are the best case scenario with insurance fraud being the worst. What a depressing scale, eh?

Michael Baron (nym.news)

I actually choose to not be angry. I also don’t believe the Mets should activate David Wright for the hell of it either. I mean, it’s not like he’s saying publicly he’s ready. He himself has said he still has work to do to get to the place he needs to be in order to play at this level. And he knows his body, condition, and skill better than anyone. When he says he’s ready and the Mets are playing a game, that’s when I’ll get pissed. That doesn’t at all mean the Mets do things right, and aren’t messing with the finances of his contract right now. But I myself certainly don’t want to see a fractional version of Wright or Wright get hurt ten minutes after he gets activated. I trust him, and understand what all of this is and want him to play when he can actually be productive.

Metstradamus

Michael, these are very important points and you’re right. If they want a “major league player”, as they say, then they should have the guts to shut him down and then reason that there are two more years left on his contract and we’d rather have him 100% (or as close as possible) for those two seasons. Why would you rush him back for these three weeks? That’s why this all makes me feel like this is a stunt by the Mets to have the nostalgia night with him and Reyes, and then negotiate a buy out after the season or release him. And honestly, I don’t want nostalgia night. I’d guess that David doesn’t want that either. I think we do too much looking back and not enough looking forward anyway. And nostalgia night with David and Jose one last time on the left side of the infield would be an obvious contrived cash grab. That would make me sick to my stomach.

Michael Baron

I don’t know the Mets are looking for nostalgia night either. John Ricco has indicated they want a productive player when they activate Wright. I also don’t think they’re trying to rush him back. Remember, he got 40 AB and they took it very slow. And at one point he shut it down himself temporarily because he had trouble. This has been an excruciatingly slow and grueling process, for both his sake and the team’s sake. He’s close and I think a lot of people – including me – are itching to see him play. But the last thing anyone needs is for David to come back, get hurt and it all be over. So they’re going to make sure they do everything they can to get him back and get him back to a place this can be managed so he can stay healthy, on the field and can live a normal life after baseball.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

It’s such a sui generis situation. Any other player who’d been out two-plus years working his way through rehab would have been reinstated and been used accordingly (sparingly). But no other player would figure to have David’s kind of contract and there wouldn’t be this kind of insurance consideration on the table.

In that same vein, I don’t believe any other player at this stage of his career would have worked as hard as David Wright to get back. David takes his Metsdom and his captaincy very seriously, though I also believe if he was in any other profession, he’d approach it with the same level of dedication.

There’s also the matter of the physical ailment he’s trying to play through. It’s not the usual baseball injury, is it? Both the player and the team ought to be as careful as possible. This is a 35-year-old we’re talking about, with a life after baseball. I’d hate to see his determination backfire into something catastrophic (as if that could happen to a Met).

All that said, it’s clearly about the money. The Mets like getting those checks from the insurance company, this year and next. It’s a lot of money. To forfeit it for a few at-bats (I find the “he needs to come back as a complete player” jazz to be nonsense) is a legitimate if distasteful business consideration.

As a Mets fan, I will take my lead from David. If he thinks he can do it, if he’s not in agony, if he’s been putting in all this effort because playing baseball is what he does and what he’s contracted to do, I think it’s chintzy of the Mets to deny him the logical conclusion of his effort, which is playing baseball.

That, too, is part of doing business. Also, it’s a sport, for cryin’ out loud. David is being sporting about this. The Mets are being less so.

As for the notion that this is strictly about nostalgia, I don’t think so. Not for David, certainly. He’s an active player, as inactive as he’s been. He’s not Minnie Minoso coming out of retirement at the behest of Bill Veeck or something like that. It would certainly warm my sentimental heart to see No. 5 and No. 7 take the field together one last time, but I doubt that’s what’s driving the third baseman. If it was driving the Mets, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. He’d be on the roster already.

And let’s be real: the Mets are incapable of selling tickets for anything in September 2018. The modest bump they might (might) get from “oh boy, the Captain is back,” doesn’t measure up to whatever they’d be forfeiting in recovering on the insurance policy…neither of which should be our concern as fans, but baseball is indeed a business, our favorite team included.

In the end, when he does call it a day, we’ll remember David Wright for so much more than a month full of clouds. He was sunshine for so many seasons. No matter what happens, he shines on.

Mets Daddy

When looking at franchises, there just some players who matter more than others.  Most people subscribe to this theory, the Wilpons included.  How else could you explain all that they have done for Jose Reyes despite his proving for two years now he is no longer a Major League player.

In the end, when you look at how well the Mets treat Reyes, you have to ask why they are not extending the same courtesies to Wright.  Certainly, with all that Wright has given the franchise, including his signing an under-market extension to stay and keep payroll at a level where the Mets could add additional pieces, he has done all that has been asked of him and more.

Right now, he just wants to play in front of his daughters.  It’s a human request.  One that should not fall on deaf ears.  Ultimately, if Wright is not given this chance to at least end his career on the field instead of the trainer’s table, you may see a level of anger from Mets fans you have not seem in quite some time.  I know I will be as angry as I’ve ever been.

In the end, we all hope to see Wright play again.  Personally, I also hope you return the favor these excellent writers have given me by participating in this and other roundtables by visiting their sites.

Mets Real David Wright Dilemma

If you’ve been to or watched Mets alumni at Citi Field for events like the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 World Series or Mike Piazza‘s number retirement, you will see just how much former Mets respect and revere David Wright.

What makes those moments so special is you see Wright look on with admiration at players he grew up rooting for as a child, and they treat him as an equal. There is a mutual respect between Mets greats.

As we are seeing with the Mets yet again, this mutual respect is shared between Mets players but not ownership. No, the Wilpons just have a way of alienating themselves with players like they have with the fans.

Darryl Strawberry has spoken candidly how he no longer associates with the Mets due to Jeff Wilpon. There are multiple instances of the Mets alienating their former players.

One interesting note is how prominent Mets who have played for both the Mets and Yankees are more closely affiliated with the Yankees organization. David Cone and Al Leiter have worked for YES. We’ve seen them and players like Dwight Gooden participate in Old Timer’s Day.

Part of the reason we see these Mets with the Yankees is because of the World Series titles. We also see the Yankees making the efforts to bring these players back. More importantly, these players have typically received better treatment from the Yankees than they have the Mets.

For example, could you imagine the Yankees removing a popular player’s signature from the walls of their stadium? Would you see them turning Monument Park into an unkept portion of their team store?

More importantly, could you see the Yankees handling the Wright situation in the matter the Mets have? It’s extremely doubtful.

Over what amounts to less than $5 million, the Mets are not going to let Wright play again. For what it’s worth, the Mets have that money socked away from the trades of Asdrubal Cabrera and Jeurys Familia and maybe even the insurance from Yoenis Cespedes.

Sure, the Mets have offered other reasons, rather excuses. They’re going to rely on medical reports (even though he’s been cleared to play baseball games). They’ve said there’s a higher standard of medical clearance to play in MLB as opposed to minor league games.

Now, the Mets are moving the perceived goalposts by saying the team wants him to be a regular player as opposed to a “ceremonial” player or pinch hitter.

Of course, Wright being an everyday player is a bit difficult with the presence of Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Wilmer Flores. It’s also more difficult due to Wright’s own personal physical limitations.

Of course, the Mets don’t know what Wright wants or feels like he’s capable of doing because John Ricco admits to not talking to Wright about all of this.

Seeing how all of this has transpired and how the Mets have opted to operate their business, especially post Madoff, this is about the insurance money.

While Wright has always said the Wright thing and has never been truly critical of the organization, everyone has their breaking point, and this could be his.

Much like we’ve seen with former Mets greats, Wright may be so aggrieved, he just stays away (not that the Mets give players reasons to return with event like Old Timer’s Day). And seeing how Wright has been treated, we may see the same thing with fans and other former players because, at the end of the day, no one should be alright with how this is transpiring.

Sadly, unlike the greats of Mets past, there’s no other home for him. The Mets are it.

So while we’re seeing what could be Wright’s final chance, we may be seeing the end of Wright before he fades away forever. That could be the saddest thing of all, and it was all over a few million.

Flores Winning 2019 First Base Job

This year, the Mets have been unwilling to give either Dominic Smith or Peter Alonso an opportunity to prove themselves at the Major League level. We’ve also seen recent reports Jay Bruce will get a long look at first base to close the season. Of course, there’s also Yoenis Cespedes who may need to play first when he returns from his double heel surgery, whenever that might be.

While all of this has been occurring, Wilmer Flores has been playing first base, and he’s done a good job there.

Since June 15, the day he ostensively took over the first base job, he’s hit .283/.332/.473 with 14 doubles, seven homers, and 26 RBI. That production equates to a 118 wRC+.

If Flores maintained that level of production, his 118 wRC+ would rate as the eighth best among MLB first basemen. This would leave him tied with Cody Bellinger and ahead of players like Anthony Rizzo, Jose Abreu, Carlos Santana, and Justin Bour.

It also happens to be the same level of production which prompted the Mets to give Bruce a three year $39 million contract even with Bruce not having a season anywhere near as productive since 2013.

There are a few reasons why Flores has been this productive.

First and foremost, he’s learned how to hit right-handed pitching. So far this year, he’s hitting .286/.344/.492 against right-handed pitching. This makes this the first year of his career the once thought of platoon bat has hit right-handed pitching better than left-handed pitching.

Flores is also showing improved plate discipline. Flores has a 7.8 percent walk rate and a 9.3 percent strikeout rate. Both numbers are career bests and both follow positive yearly trends Flores has made since 2015.

That’s one of the unheralded aspects of Flores’ 2018 season. He’s shown himself to be an improved player on the field, and he’s shown the ability to withstand playing everyday.

At 27, Flores is now in the prime years of his career, which means we could reasonably expect him to take a positive step forward in each of the next few years.

Looking over the roster and the Mets choices at the position, you’d be hard pressed to argue the Mets could do better than a 118 wRC+ player making improvements in his plate discipline and against right-handed pitching.

Looking at it objectively, Flores deserves that first base job next year over the options the Mets currently have.

Subjectively, it doesn’t hurt to have a fan favorite who has the most walk-off hits in team history. Moreover, you would like to get another look at him in his last year of team control to avoid another Justin Turner/Daniel Murphy situation.

Overall, Flores is a guy who wants to be a Met, and he is a guy who continues to make improvements in his game. Give him the 2019 first base job he’s earned with his play on the field.

Mets Problem Isn’t Analytics, It’s The Wilpons

As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Mets owner Fred Wilpon does not want to hire a younger and more analytics driven executive for two reasons.  The first is he feels he will have a harder time connecting with that person.  The second and perhaps all the more baffling is the “thought among team officials that perhaps the Mets became too analytics driven in recent seasons under Sandy Alderson’s watch . . . .”

Taking the thought at face value, we really need to question which analytics the Mets are using to inform their decisions.

For starters, look at Asdrubal Cabrera.  Everyone knew he was no longer a shortstop, so that left the question over whether he should have been a second or third baseman heading into the 2018 season.

In 2017, Cabrera was a -6 DRS in 274.1 innings at second.  That should have come as no surprise as he was a -10 DRS the last time he saw extensive action at second base (2014).  Conversely, in his 350.1 innings at third last year, he had a 1 DRS.

Naturally, the Mets went with Cabrera at second this season where he has been an MLB worst -20 DRS.  That makes him not just the worst second baseman in all of baseball, it makes him the worst defensive infielder in all of baseball.

Of course, the Mets got there by acquiescing a bit to Cabrera’s preference to play second over third.  This was also the result of the team turning down a Paul Sewald for Jason Kipnis swap.  That deal was nixed over money.

With respect to Sewald, he was strong when the season began.  In April, he had a 1.91 ERA and a 0.805 WHIP.  Since that point, Sewald has a 5.73 ERA, a 1.485 WHIP, and multiple demotions to Triple-A.

As for Kipnis, he has struggled this year hitting .226/.313/.363.  It should be noted this was mostly due to a horrific April which saw him hit .178/.254/.243.  Since that tough start to the season, Kipnis has gotten progressively better.  Still, it is difficult to lose sleep over Kipnis even if the rejected trade put Cabrera at second and it led to the Mets signing Todd Frazier, who is hitting .217/.298/.368.

In addition to bringing Cabrera back into the fold, the Mets also brought back Jay Bruce after having traded the then impending free agent to the Cleveland Indians for Ryder Ryan.

At the time the Mets signed Bruce, they needed a center fielder.  The team already had Yoenis Cespedes in left, and once he returned from the disabled list, the team was going to have Michael Conforto in right.  Until the time Conforto was ready, the team appeared set with Brandon Nimmo in the short-term.

In 69 games in 2017, Nimmo hit .260/.379/.418.  In those games, Nimmo showed himself to be a real candidate for the leadoff spot on a roster without an obvious one, especially in Conforto’s absence.  With him making the league minimum and his having shown he could handle three outfield positions, he seemed like an obvious choice for a short term solution and possible someone who could platoon with Juan Lagares in center.

Instead, the Mets went with Bruce for $39 million thereby forcing Conforto to center where he was ill suited.  More than that, Bruce was coming off an outlier year in his free agent walk year.  Before that 2017 rebound season, Bruce had not had a WAR of at least 1.0 since 2013, and he had just one season over a 100 wRC+ in that same stretch.  In response to that one outlier season at the age of 30, the Mets gave Bruce a three year deal.

Still, that may not have been the worst contract handed out by the Mets this past offseason.  That honor goes to Jason Vargas.

The Mets gave a 35 year old pitcher a two year $16 million deal to be the team’s fifth starter despite the fact the team had real starting pitching depth.  At the time of the signing, the Mets had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, and Corey Oswalt as starting pitching depth.

Instead of using five of them and stashing four of them in Triple-A, the Mets opted to go with Vargas as the fifth starter.  Even better, they depleted their starting pitching depth by moving Gsellman and Lugo the to bullpen.  Of course, this had the added benefit of saving them money thereby allowing them to sign Anthony Swarzak, a 32 year old reliever with just one good season under his belt.

The Mets were rewarded with the decision to sign Vargas by his going 2-8 with an 8.75 ERA and a 1.838 WHIP.  He’s also spent three separate stints on the disabled list.

What’s funny about Vargasis he was signed over the objections of the Mets analytics department.  From reports, Vargas was not the only one.  Looking at that, you have to question just how anyone associated with the Mets could claim they have become too analytics driven.  Really, when you ignore the advice of those hired to provide analytical advice and support, how could you point to them as the problem?

They’re not.

In the end, the problem is the same as it always has been.  It’s the Wilpons.

They’re the ones looking for playing time for Jose Reyes at a time when everyone in baseball thinks his career is over.  They’re the ones not reinvesting the proceeds from David Wrights insurance policy into the team.  They’re the ones who have a payroll not commensurate with market size or World Series window.  They’re the ones rejecting qualified people for a job because of an 81 year year old’s inability to connect with his employees.

Really, you’re not going to find an analytical basis to defend making a team older, less versatile, more injury prone, and worse defensively.

What you will find is meddlesome ownership who thinks they know better than everyone.  That’s why they’re 17 games under .500 with declining attendance and ratings while saying the Yankees financial model is unsustainable at a time the Yankees are heading to the postseason again and the team has the highest valuation of any Major League team.

Smith’s And Alonso’s Battle Is The Veterans, Not Each Other

After not being utilized by the Major League club, the Mets sent Dominic Smith back down to Triple-A where his traditional first base position was already occupied by Peter Alonso.

For the past year, Smith and Alonso had been battling it out to see who was going to be the Mets first baseman of the future. In that time period, Smith has struggled while Alonso has thrived. That has especially been the case this year with a slimmed down Smith not being able to hit for any power in a hitter friendly Pacific Coast League while Alonso has been drawing comparisons to Mark McGwire as he has leaped into Top 100 lists this summer.

While it is interesting to debate them from afar, it is more interesting to see how they stack up when they are in the same lineup on a day-in and day-out basis.

Much like he has done for most of the season, Alonso has risen to the challenge.

Before Smith was sent back down to Triple-A, Alonso was hitting .196/.323/.477 while striking out in 28.5 percent of his plate appearances in the 29 games. Since he has been in the same lineup as Smith, he is hitting .286/.333/.429 with three doubles, a homer, and 10 RBI in 10 games.

Unfortunately for Smith, he has struggled. In his 10 games back in Las Vegas, he is hitting .200/.267/.400. On the bright side, he did put together a four game hitting streak where he was 6-for-16 with two homers and four RBI. At a minimum, that once again shows us Smith does have the talent to perform at this high a level, but again, the question remains if he can do this on a long term basis.

In total, we are seeing glimpses from both Alonso and Smith as to why they should be considered the Mets first baseman of the future. The question is when or if either is going to get a chance a the Major League level.

At the moment, they are being blocked by Wilmer Flores, Jose Bautista, and Austin Jackson not just for playing time but also roster spots on the Major League roster. After that, the Mets will have Jay Bruce, who may be better suited to first, and Yoenis Cespedes, who may be limited to first base after his double heel surgery. This is in addition to Flores, who was already playing over Smith when both were on the Major League roster.

It seems like Smith will get called-up again this year, but seeing the veterans and how he was previously utilized, we shouldn’t expect him to get much of a look.  With respect to Alonso, the Mets have been adamant he is not coming up this year.

That’s why, in the end, while we are seeing Smith and Alonso battling head-to-head against one another to make the case why either one of them should be considered the Met first baseman of the future, their real battle is with the Mets organization to prove why they should get the job over more established and much higher paid veterans.

Given how they are battling in Triple-A instead of the Majors, it does not seem as if they are going to get a fair enough shake to prove themselves . . . at least not this year.

 

Pick A Lane On Mets Criticism

There are many, many reasons to criticize the Mets.  Even with the presence of smart baseball people, who have been a part of well-run organizations in their previous stops, the Mets are a mess.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is directly attributable to ownership.

That same ownership has decided that rather than appointing one of their existing assistant general managers to be the interim general manager, they would each role share with them presenting ideas they used to offer to Sandy Alderson directly to Jeff Wilpon.  Yes, Jeff Wilpon essentially named himself the general manager.

The end result of that has led to a number of decisions which have made the Mets even more of a laughingstock then they already have been.

The Jeurys Familia trade was widely panned.  Making matters worse, we subsequently discovered Will Toffey, the key prospect in the deal not only needs offseason shoulder surgery, but his dad is also friends with J.P. Riccardi. It so happens Riccardi was the pointman for the deal.

We didn’t know that initially because the Mets went into media silence.  The reason for that was the team was actively ducking the media over their continued bungling and outright lying in delivering the message about what they knew and didn’t know about Yoenis Cespedes‘ heels.

Consider that over the course of a few days, John Ricco and the Mets went from saying they didn’t know Cespedes needed surgery to saying surgery was a last resort to saying he needed the surgery.

What was even better about all of this was the Mets waited for this noise to clear before calling on Ricco to speak with the media about the Familia trade, a trade which he said Riccardi ran point and that one of the key pieces was the international money which Omar Minaya could utilize well.  So basically, the team sent out the one guy of the three to speak on a deal who didn’t work on getting the deal done or who will utilize the assets acquired.

Meanwhile, the Mets continual insistence Jeff McNeil was a second baseman blew up in their faces.  Within a week of this proclamation, McNeil would play third in a Triple-A game, and eventually he would be called up to play third base in the majors.

After the trade deadline, the three general managers hopped on a conference call where they told everyone ownership entasked them with being creative and open to all possibilities.  That resulted in them getting a poor return for Familia.  Worse yet, the team was unable to move Jose Bautista, Jerry Blevins, or Devin Mesoraco despite them being 30 year old veterans on expiring deals.

Better yet, they added to the over 30 mix by signing Austin Jackson on the eve of the trade deadline.

Looking at what they did and didn’t do, there are still some up in arms that the team didn’t unload Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, or even Noah Syndergaard.

Seriously?

After what we have seen from this front office in a very limited time period, you really trusted them to make major deals on these players.  You really thought they were capable of getting the type of return the Rays got for Chris Archer?

Have you been remotely paying attention to anything that has happened over the past two years?

Honestly, how could you want this structure get rid of players who will have a huge market during the Winter Meetings should the Mets eventually decided to tear it all down and rebuild?

That’s just being completely delusional.

Again, the Mets need to be held to task for many things they do.  They need to be constantly reminded of their failures and ineptitude.

That said, with those failures and ineptitude, how can we possibly trust them to do anything until they bring in a fresh voice into the organization who knows what he is doing?

Turning Off Wilpon Defender Mike Francesca

In 1997, the team had a surprising 88 win season with young players like Edgardo Alfonzo beginning to make his mark, accomplished players like John Olerud rejuvenating their careers, and players like Rick Reed seemingly coming out of nowhere to be good Major League players.  With a brash Bobby Valentine at the helm, many expected the Mets to make the leap in 1998.

As the 1998 season unfolded, it wasn’t to be, and that was mainly because their star catcher Todd Hundley had offseason elbow surgery which was going to keep him out for a while.

The Mets did start well.  On May 13th, the Mets were 19-15, albeit seven games back in the division.  Then, the following day, shockwaves went through Major League Baseball, and not just because the Mets were swept in a doubleheader by the Padres.  No, out of nowhere Mike Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins.

It was an absolute blockbuster with Piazza and Todd Zeile going to the Marlins, who just dismantled the 1997 World Series winning team, for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield.

Everyone in baseball knew the Marlins were looking to flip Piazza for prospects, and a talented Mets farm system seemed to make them one of the favorites if they were interested.  Problem was, they weren’t interested.

After this trade happened, the Mets would fall to nine games out in the division.  While this was happening, Mike and the Mad Dog would take to the air day-in and day-out clamoring for the Mets to go out and get Piazza.  Their assault was relentless.

Finally, on May 22nd, the Mets would acquire Piazza from the Marlins for Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz, and Ed Yarnall.  To hear Francesca tell it, he played a key role in that happening:

While a noted blowhard, you can never discount how public pressure forces teams to act.  After all if we look back to 2015, with all that happened, we did see the Mets swing a trade to obtain Yoenis Cespedes.  The public pressure continued in the ensuring offseason with the team, who had already moved on from Cespedes by signing Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Juan Lagares in center, acquiescing and signing Cespedes to what was essentially a one year deal.

The team didn’t let things play out after the 2016 season.  They jumped fairly quickly, and they signed Cespedes to a four year deal even with full knowledge of his heel issues.  Certainly, much of this was the result of the public pressure, which was given a voice on New York airwaves by people like Francesca.

Now?  Well, Francesca has gone from being an important voice to being a mouthpiece for the Wilpons.

He is now defending the Wilpons saying they are spending money.  He notes how the team has the seventh highest payroll in the majors.  That is patently false.  Cots, Spotrac and Steve the Ump ranks the Mets payroll 12th. Really, everyone ranks the Mets payroll 12th.

The AP ranked the Yankees, not the Mets as having the seventh highest payroll.  Maybe, Francesca read New York and was confused.

Putting the ranking aside, lost in that is the Mets recover 75% of David Wright‘s salary, which, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Jeff Wilpon has admitted does not get reinvested into baseball operations.  That means the Mets payroll is actually $15 million less than advertised.

Dropping the Mets payroll by $15 million, the Mets payroll drops to 15th in the majors.  With the $3 million saved in the Jeurys Familia trade, the payroll drops to 16th.  Yes, a New York market team, who is currently  refusing to give Jacob deGrom, currently the best starter in baseball, a contract extension, is in the bottom half of the league in spending.

For his part, Francesca defends this.  He will say the Mets spend, but they don’t spend well.  Nothing backs this up remotely.  Nothing.

Instead of pointing the finger where it belongs, the Wilpons, he will continue to bash Mickey Callaway as if he is the scourge of the Mets organization.  He will look at all the surrounds the Mets and mock them while failing to even consider pointing the blame at ownership.

And for all that, I’ve stopped listening to him.  After over 30 years of listening to him, I’m done.  And I suspect I will not be the only Mets fan who feels this way.

Thank You Asdrubal Cabrera

When looking at Sandy Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager, you would have to say one of the best moves he made was signing Asdrubal Cabrera in the offseason immediately after the Mets pennant.

When you look at Cabrera’s Mets career, the one thing that immediately comes to mind is how he almost single-handedly carried the Mets to the 2016 postseason.

At that time, the Mets were down Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom in the rotation.  The team had no third baseman for most of the season.  Lucas Duda was essentially done for the year, and James Loney was doing a bad job offensively and defensively at first.  Neil Walker would go down with a season ending back surgery.  The prior year’s hero, Yoenis Cespedes, was in and out of the lineup with quad issues, and when he did play, he wasn’t the same guy he was in 2015.

After what was a largely disappointing injury plagued year, Cabrera came off the DL on August 19th, and he went on an absolute tear.  From that point until the end of the season, he hit .345/.406/.635 with 11 doubles, a triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI.

To put it in perspective just how great a run that was, Cabrera had the seventh best wRC+ over that stretch.  His 179 wRC+ was better than players like Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, NL MVP Kris Bryant.

In that insane stretch, the Mets went from two games under .500 to finishing the year 87-75 with the top National League Wild Card.  Not only did Cabrera fuel that run, but he might have also given us one of the greatest bat flips in Mets history:

From there, things haven’t been so great with the Mets.  Unfortunately, it did lead to Cabrera demanding a trade when the team wanted to move him off of shortstop.  With the Mets unable to move him, the team did pick up his option, and he returned.

It is a good thing he returned because Cabrera has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.  His 122 wRC+ is sixth best among Major League second basemen, and it is second best among players on the Mets Opening Day roster.

Whatever issues Cabrera may have caused with his demands, he is a guy who came to play each and every day.  No matter what the injury or issue, he wanted in the lineup.  More often that not, he contributed.

Part of the reason why is Cabrera is that rare breed of player who actually raises his game in New York.  His 116 OPS+ with the Mets is better than any of his previous stops.  He averaged a higher WAR with the Mets than at any other stop.  It’s impressive he did this as a player towards the end of his prime as opposed to one entering his prime.

Overall, the New York Mets organization has been better for Cabrera having been a part of it.  He was a player born to play in New York, and he had the opportunity to show it with a great pennant run in 2016.  For that run alone, Mets fans should be thankful.

In the end, we should all wish Cabrera good luck in Philadelphia, and yes, given his play here, there Mets should consider bringing him back next year.