Yoenis Cespedes

Reasons Mets Are Justified In Not Pursuing Manny Machado

According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, the New York Mets are not pursuing Manny Machado this offseason as they “don’t see him as the right player to spend big on.”  While this may create an uproar amongst Mets fans and Mets critics, the is 100% the correct move for the Mets franchise.  There are several reasons why:

  1. Machado only wants to play shortstop, and as we saw with Kazuo Matsui displacing Jose Reyes, moving Amed Rosario off shortstop is a bad idea;
  2. With David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets already have two $100 million players.  You don’t need three.
  3. Carlos Beltran was the last under 30 year old who the Mets signed to a $100 million contract. Do we really want the Mets to sign someone who is just going to strike out looking anyway?
  4. The last Orioles shortstop to play for the Mets was Mike Bordick, and he hit .260/.321/.365 in 56 regular season games with the Mets before getting benched for Kurt Abbott in the World Series.
  5. With Jack Reinheimer, the Mets already have a 25 year old shortstop.
  6. Infamously, Timo Perez did not hustle in the World Series.  After the World Series, Perez would hit .275/.311/.394 with the Mets.  If that’s what we can expect from players who do not hustle in the postseason, giving Machado a megadeal will be a disaster.
  7. The Mets gave Ronny Mauricio a $2.1 million signing bonus.  You cannot give him that type of bonus and then block his path to the majors by giving Machado a huge contract.
  8. For the price of Machado, you can sign eyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Oliver Perez, Rene Rivera, Devin Mesoraco, Lucas Duda, Carlos Gomez, Eric Young, Jr., Chris Young, Tyler Clippard, and still have room to make strong offers to Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson.
  9. Machado, like Alex Rodriguez, will prove to be a 24+1 player, and you cannot possibly win with an A-Rod on your team.
  10. It will be hard to free up the funds to sign him with the Mets still paying Bobby Bonilla.

So really, when you break it down and look at the reasons, the better question is why should the Mets even consider signing Machado?

Mike Francesca’s Interview Of Brodie Van Wagnenen Was A Bad Joke

Now that the Mets are on 880 AM, Mets players and front office personnel are once again free to appear on WFAN. This is the first time since the end of the 2013 this is permissible. Apparently, this was something bothering Mike Francesca because he seemingly took five years of frustration out on new Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen:

https://twitter.com/backaftathis/status/1057428195270688768?s=21

Listening to the interview and over again, it was blatantly clear Francesca was not listening to Van Wagnenen, and he had the intent to mock and belittle the new GM.

Overall, Brodie Van Wagenen’s key statement was, “I think it’s a good everyday lineup that I want to build off of.”

Every reaction and question which ensued was proof Francesca did not listen to that statement even when Van Wagenen kept reiterating it.

Not getting the answers he wanted. Francesca insulted Van Wagenen, outright ignored his answers, and went so far as to remind Van Wagenen he was taking over the Mets and not the Yankees. Francesca’s indigence and invocation of the Yankees is certainly peculiar when you not only consider how he staunchly defends the Wilpons, but he also went so far as to falsely claim the Mets had the seventh highest payroll in the majors.

Francesca continued the bizarre behavior (albeit not for him) by asking Van Wagenen who his cleanup hitter was.

Now, Van Wagenen could not have been more clear during this interview the Mets were going to add to this lineup.

That said, who cares who is the Mets cleanup hitter as of today? Van Wagenen was hired to figure out who it will be not just on Opening Day, but hopefully, Game 1 of the World Series.

Remember Yoenis Cespedes was the Mets cleanup hitter during the 2015 postseason, and he was not obtained until minutes before the trade deadline.

This is to say a GM’s work is never done. If you’re “Numbah 1,” you know that and don’t make ridiculous statements like, “When the team is full, can you call and let us know?”

But Francesca doesn’t care about potentially sounding ridiculous. Instead, he went in with an agenda, and that agenda was to be dismissive of all things Van Wagenen and the Mets. That is why Francesca sounded even more pompous and dismissive than he usually does.

The best way to shut him up and make him eat his words will be to build a winner, which is the job Van Wagenen was hired to do anyway. Francesca won’t, but everyone should give Van Wagenen an opportunity prove himself.

Mets 2019 Starting Lineup As It Stands Today

With Brodie Van Wagenen being announced as the new Mets General Manager tomorrow, his work begins immediately.  Right now, Jose Reyes, Devin Mesoraco, Jerry Blevins, Austin Jackson, and Jose Lobaton are free agents.  With eight more players listed on the 60 day disabled list (Eric Hanhold, Rafael Montero, Bobby Wahl, Travis d’Arnaud, Phillip Evans, T.J. Rivera, Yoenis Cespedes, and Juan Lagares), the team needs to cut at least three players by Friday.

More than that, Van Wagenen will be entasked in improving the roster into a 2019 World Series contender.  Here is Van Wagenen’s starting point:

C – Kevin Plawecki
1B – Jay Bruce
2B – Jeff McNeil
3B – Todd Frazier
SS – Amed Rosario
LF – Michael Conforto
CF – Juan Lagares
RF – Brandon Nimmo

Certainly, the Mets are set in the middle infield and the corner outfield spots.  Obviously, Yasmani Grandal would be a significant addition to both the lineup and in the pitch framing department.  Even if not Grandal, the catching position seems to be a real target to upgrade either on the free agent market, where real upgrades are limited, or on the trade front, where there are a number of rebuilding teams who could move a catcher (Buster Posey?).

As for the other positions, the Mets are going to have to move a player/contract.  If the Mets really want to significantly upgrade this roster, the team is going to have to find a way to move Bruce, Frazier, or both.  That not only opens room for a significant addition, but it also means the team will have some extra money on the budget to improve the roster.

In the end, there is real talent here, but talent which needs to be surrounded by the right players.  Ideally, that is at least one right-handed power bat to balance out a lineup which already balances out Conforto, Nimmo, and McNeil.  When doing that, Van Wagenen will need to buttress this group by building a strong bench, which is something which has not been done since the trade deadline maneuvers in the 2015 season.

The Fascinating Brodie Van Wagenen Mets GM Candidacy

Brodie Van Wagenen is the agent for Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes, Robert Gsellman, Todd Frazier, Tim Tebow, and others.  Through his representation of his clients, Forbes pegged his 2018 commissions at $25 million.  Now, instead of collecting commissions from these players and pushing management to either pay or play these players, he could be the one making the decisions for the Mets.

The mere idea Van Wagenen would take the Mets General Manager job is fascinating.

First and foremost, Van Wagenen would presumably need to take a paycut to join the Mets front office.  He would be doing that to go from one high stress job to the next, and he would presumably need to work the same hours.  His job will now come with public scrutiny and much less job stability.  Considering all that’s involved, it just begs the question why Van Wagenen is even considering this.

If he gets the job, you then have to consider how his relationship with the Mets players will impact how he runs the team.

This past season, Van Wagenen said the Mets needed to either trade or extend deGrom.  Does he do that now, or does he keep deGrom on his current contract and spend the money elsewhere?  If the extension talks were ever to occur, how would he handle them?  Clearly, he knows what deGrom wants.  Does he give it to him in full?  If he doesn’t, does the deGrom situation become a problem?

Can he trade Frazier to clear room for another player?  Is he willing to keep Tebow in the minors all year, or if the situation presents itself, could he actually cut Tebow?

Go back to Cespedes.  The Mets organization rushed him back to DH in the Subway Series.  Does Van Wagenen rush Cespedes back from his double heel injury this year, or does he break ranks with how the Mets have handled injuries the past few years?  Could his opinion on these matters be swayed by those players he used to represent and those who didn’t?

On that front, do the Mets players see Van Wagenen’s treatment of his former clients as favoritism?  What impact would this have on the Mets clubhouse?

Speaking of the clubhouse, what impact would Van Wagenen have on Mickey Callaway‘s authority?  Assume for a second Gsellman has an issue, and that issue was not handled by Callaway or Dave Eiland to his satisfaction.  Gsellman has a prior relationship with Van Wagenen.  Should he ever go behind the coaching staff’s back, how would it be received?  Does Van Wagenen take his manager’s side, his player’s side, or does he effectively mediate?

Looking further, what impact does Van Wagenen’s relationship CAA have?  Like the Mets have done the past few years, does he go towards them for the free agents, or is he willing to branch out and speak with Scott Boras about Manny Machado?  Would Boras or other agents be cautious in their dealings with the Mets?  Is there preexisting bad blood which would hamper or even infringe upon negotiations?

But it’s more how he handles the Major League team.  He is now responsible for an entire organization.  To that end, we know he is capable of running an organization.  We don’t know if he can handle running a baseball operation, especially one where the Wilpons are rumored to meddle in even the smallest of decisions.

There are people already in place, and presumably Van Wagenen has a relationship with those people.  Obviously, the dynamics of that relationship are about to change.  There are many reasons why, including but not limited to the fact, Van Wagenen has people outside the organization he trusts.  He will seek out their opinions and may even hire them over existing staff.  That is certain to have ripple effects.

Overall, there are many minefields and issues which accompany Van Wagenen.  There are the conflict of interests with this players, and the conflicts his relationships could have in the clubhouse and throughout the organization.  It is interesting to see how the Mets and Van Wagenen himself handles the whole situation . . . should he get the job.

Dodgers Won 2015 NLDS War

Back in 2015, the Mets somehow held onto a Game 5 and series clinching win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Despite having nothing, Jacob deGrom kept the Dodgers to two runs over six innings. That was more than enough as Daniel Murphy took over that game in what was one of the truly great postseason games a player has ever had.

He’d double home the first run of the game in the first off Zack Greinke. On a fourth inning walk to Lucas Duda, Murphy went first to third against a shifted and lackadaisical Dodgers infield allowing him to score the tying run on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly.

The big blow came in the sixth when Murphy hit the go-ahead homer putting the Mets up 3-2.

After a scoreless sixth, it was Noah Syndergaard with a scoreless seventh followed by Jeurys Familia recording the six out save to send the Mets to the NLCS and eventually the World Series.

At the time, the Mets seemed to be the young team on the rise. In addition to deGrom, Syndergaard, and Familia, the team had Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and eventually Zack Wheeler again.

The team also had a highly rated farm system, albeit one they raided for this one with a myriad of trades including Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa for Yoenis Cespedes.

In 2016, both teams returned to the postseason. The Mets captured the top Wild Card spot only to be shut out by Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. That year, the Dodgers would lose in the NLCS to the eventual World Series winning Chicago Cubs (two years later and that sentence still seems bizarre).

After that, the Mets have had consecutive losing seasons while the Dodgers have gone to back-to-back World Series. Why?

Well, for starters, the Dodgers build a deep team with a deep bench. They do not have top heavy rosters which crumble when there is one injury. For example, Clayton Kershaw has not thrown over 175.0 innings in a season since that NLDS, and yet, the Dodgers remain a great team.

Also, while the Mets are off purging the Murphys and Justin Turners of the world, the Dodgers are finding them. In addition to Turner, we have also seen Chris Taylor and Max Muncy figure things out in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers are also not afraid to take risks or trust their young players. Gone from the 2015 team are Howie Kendrick, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Jimmy Rollins. Instead, the Dodgers have players like Cody Bellinger.

For the Mets part, well, Adrian Gonzalez was their Opening Day first baseman.

Mostly, the separation has been financial. The Dodgers ownership has been willing and motivated to keep this championship window as open as possible, and they have with the largest payroll in baseball.

Looking between the 2015 NLDS and 2018 NLCS, Turner, Joc Pederson, and Yasmani Grandal were the only players in both starting lineups. Pederson and Grandal are still under 30.

On the pitching front, Kershaw, Pedro Baez, Alex Wood, and Kenley Jansen were the only pitchers to pitch in both series.

The Dodgers are not just a financial juggernaut, but they are also a supremely well run organization. This is a complete opposite of what the Mets have been, and judging from their current GM search, will continue to be.

This is all why the Dodgers are competing for World Series while the Mets are once again also-rans.

Complicated Good-Bye To Jose Reyes

Back in 2011, Jose Reyes would lay down a bunt single to preserve his batting title.  The first in Mets history.  After reaching safely, Reyes would be lifted from the game much to the consternation of Mets fans.  Much of the consternation eminated from the fact it looked like this was going to be the last time fans were going to get to see Reyes in a Mets jersey, and those fans wanted to see Reyes play just one last time and say good-bye.

Sunday, Reyes was in the lineup once again leadoff in what many believed to be his final game as a Met.  Reyes would take one at-bat, ground out, and he would walk off the field for a final time.  While the circumstances may seem to mirror what transpired seven years prior, the two situations could not have been more different.

During Reyes’ first stint with the Mets, he was the most electrifying player in the Majors.  He could turn anything into extra bases, and extra base hits were nanoseconds away from becoming triples.  When he was on the basepaths, he was a constant stolen base threat, and his dancing at third base helped entice a few balks leading to a run.  Reyes was so dynamic we came up with the term “Reyes Run” for him getting on, getting over, and getting in.

Reyes was more than a dynamic offensive force.  He was a shortstop with a bullet arm and a fan favorite.  His apparent joy on the field was infectious to the fan base, and it did seem to get the team going.  (Sometimes, like 2007, it would also motivate the opponents).  Mets fans would shower him with the “Jose!” chant (a chant which began Saturday, March 29, 2003).  We loved him, and he seemingly loved us too.

In 2011, you could argue it was he and not David Wright whom the Mets should keep.  After all, Reyes was the younger player, and Citi Field was built more to Reyes’ than Wright’s strengths.  Whatever the case, the Mets opted not to re-sign him, devastating a fan base, and having the organization a nd fans  looking for a new fan favorite.  Arguably, no one could fill that void like the way Reyes once did.

That was the Reyes who left New York after the 2011 season.  That Reyes was barely recognizable after leaving.

After one year in Miami, he was traded to the Blue Jays as part of that organization’s efforts to return to the postseason.  In 2015, in Reyes’ third year as a Blue Jay, it seemed the organization’s plans were coming to fruition.  They were competing for a postseason spot with hopes for the division.  It was time for a bold move, their GM Alex Anthopoulos made that bold move.  In a six player trade, Reyes was traded to the Blue Jays for LaTroy Hawkins and Troy Tulowitzki.

In a year, Reyes and the Mets were supposed to return to the postseason, Reyes instead found himself playing for the Colorado Rockies.  He didn’t want to be there, and the team didn’t want him.  This also meant instead of playing in the postseason, Reyes would be making vacation plans to go to Hawaii.

On October 31, 2015, Michael Conforto hit two homers.  Instead of going to Jeurys Familia for the six out save, Terry Collins brought in Tyler Clippard, who walked two of the three batters he faced.  When Familia finally did come in, Daniel Murphy booted a grounder.  The Mets 3-2 lead would quickly become a 5-3 deficit.

While this was happening, Jose Reyes would throw his wife into a glass door in Hawaii.  His wife would need to be taken to a nearby hospital to treat her injuries, and Reyes would be arrested. Reyes faced not just prison time but also deportation.  Instead, because his wife did not cooperate with prosecutors, the changes would be dropped.

While Reyes was able to avoid legal troubles, he could not escape MLB punishment.  With a new Domestic Violence policy, Reyes would be suspended 51 games, which stands as the longest Domestic Violence suspension to date.  With the Rockies already wanting to transition to Trevor Story, they were more than happy to release Reyes.

Fortunately for Reyes, the Mets needed a third baseman.  Wright was injured again, and he was going to miss the rest of the season.  Eric Campbell, Matt Reynolds, Wilmer Flores, and Kelly Johnson just weren’t to cut it.  Partially due to desperation and partially due to nostalgia, the Mets threw Reyes the rope none of the other 28 teams were likely willing to give him.

A fan base was divided.  While the “Jose!” chants returned, they did not have the same enthusiasm.  Some of the people most willing to lead the cheer would sit on their hands or boo.  Reyes beat his wife, and the Mets signing him was sending the wrong message.

Still, Reyes stayed, and he played reasonably well.  He would have some highlights including the September 22nd game where both he and Asdrubal Cabrera homered which helped turn a 6-4 loss into a dramatic 9-8 11 inning victory which helped propel the Mets into the top Wild Card.  Much like in his last postseason game with the Mets, Reyes went hitless as his team was eliminated at home.

In the subsequent two years, he was about the worst players in baseball.  Despite all of Collins’ efforts to get him going, Reyes floundered, and there would be reports he was not happy playing third base.  At the end of the 2017 season, he helped reinvent himself as a mentor to Amed Rosario.  Between that and his hitting in September, the Mets brought him back.

He was dreadful this year hitting .189/.260/.320.  He’d post a -0.8 WAR.  Worse yet, he would complain about his playing time.  He believed as a utility player he should have received more playing time, and really, without that playing time, the Mets were not giving him a chance to succeed.  While there were some who were able to compartmentalize the off the field issues, when he was bad on the field, more and more Mets fans were disenchanted with him.

However, despite the ever growing calls to release him and make way for more talented prospects like Jeff McNeil, the Mets stubbornly held onto him.  They treated him like one of the Mets greats, which he was in the first part of his career.  Against all odds, Reyes would last the full season with the Mets.  It allowed him to play alongside Wright in the Captain’s final game.

It also meant Reyes would get to leadoff in what is likely his final career game.  Between innings, the Mets showed a video tribute.  Reyes would emerge from the dugout to tip his cap to a standing ovation.

The crowd was much smaller than the sold out crowd who was there to see Wright’s final game.  The standing ovation Reyes received did not remotely compare to the one Wright received.  If you went back a decade, that would seem implausible as both were beloved players with Reyes being the one who probably generated more enthusiasm from the fans.

Personally, I loved Reyes.  The first player jersey I ever purchased was Mike Piazza, the second Wright, and the third Reyes.  Overall, I had more Reyes shirseys than any other player including a last season at Shea and first season at Citi one.  That Reyes was the most exciting player who ever played for the Mets.  When he went to Colorado, I still believed he had an outside shot at the Hall of Fame.

After he left, I was left livid with the organization.  In no way should Wright and Reyes have ever been split up.  Like great Mets duos of the past, Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman and Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, it seemed like their destiny was to win a World Series together.  Between that, Flores’ struggles at short and Ruben Tejada not being a particularly good baseball player, I desperately wanted the Mets to make a trade with the Rockies to bring back Reyes for that 2015 run.

To this day, part of me wonders what would have happened if Reyes did return to the Mets in 2015.  Do they win that World Series, or do they still fall short?  Would Reyes and his contract stood in the way of Yoenis Cespedes returning?  Mostly, I wonder about that night.

While statistics prove differently, to this day, I hope it was an isolated incident, which could have been avoided by Reyes being in New York instead of Hawaii.  In the converse, maybe this was a pattern of behavior which grew increasingly violent, and perhaps, things could have been hidden for longer if he was never in Hawaii.  There is no way of knowing anything.  What we do know is that instead of being in New York, Reyes was in Hawaii where he forever changed his legacy by committing a vile act.

Because of all of this, I was initially irritated Reyes was sharing Wright’s spotlight, but I made peace with it because it was what Wright wanted.

At the sake of sounding hypocritical, I must admit seeing Reyes doubling and moving to third on a sacrifice bunt was exciting. Wright coming up to the plate in an RBI situation was exciting. Wright being able to drive Reyes home just one last time made the moment all the more special.

In all honesty, I was surprised nostalgia got the better of me in the moment.

Perhaps it is because I truly miss the Reyes of 2003 – 2011.  I just miss how fun it was to watch him play.

That fun completely disappeared when he returned.  He was no longer a young up and coming superstar.  He was a violent wife beater.  Some people may be able to compartmentalize it, but I wasn’t.  Certainly not for a player I once held in the highest of regards.

Now that is career is over, I honestly do wish Reyes well.  I want him and his family to be able to move on from the domestic violence to have a happy and safe home life.  If that happens, then no matter how much I was against it, Reyes returning to the Mets was worth it.  I will be happy if Reyes returning to a place he was loved and cared for led him to not only seek help but to end what might have been a pattern of abuse.  Hopefully, he is a better husband and father for the experience.

In the end, congratulations to Reyes on a great career.  You are the greatest shortstop in Mets history.  The memories of you and Wright playing together were some of the best I’ve had as a fan.  Rooting for you was never the same, and it will never be the same again.  Still, each and every Mets fan, including myself, wish you and your family well.

God bless the Reyes family.

2018 Mets Season Ends On A Sad Note

Perhaps more than any season, there is a sense of sadness which washed upon me when the 2018 season ended.  Perhaps, it was because my father is another year older, and I have yet to truly experience the Mets winning the World Series with him.  Maybe it is because my son follows the game a little bit more and he is starting to become attached to some players, and those players are up in limbo.

There is the sadness with David Wright leaving.  He was the most beloved Mets player in history, and he was arguably the best position player this organization has ever produced.  He was a Met for his entire career, and he ended his career the right way – on the field.  Unfortunately, that career did not end with him winning a World Series.

Past Wright, there are question marks about some other players.  Is this the last time Wilmer Flores ever wore a Mets uniform?  Are we just waiting for him to shed tears when he is wearing another team’s uniform?  Could we have already seen the last of Travis d’Arnaud?  How about Juan Lagares?  With him in the last year of his deal, he is certainly more tradeable, and there should be savvy teams lining up to acquire his defense.  Is he just destined to go somewhere else where the will be able to finally put it all together?  Will a new General Manager come in and opt to start a rebuild that would likely begin with trading Jacob deGrom?

Honestly, will Yoenis Cespedes ever be able to play again?  He has only had one of the two heel surgeries he needed.  Whenever you see a report on him, no one seems to be able to pinpoint a date he can play next year.  At some point, you have to question if he will ever really be able to play.  That seems like such a big departure from the larger than life figure he has been since joining the Mets.

Really, when you look around the 2015 Mets team we loved so dearly has been slowly trickling away.  Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia were traded away this year.  Addison Reed, Lucas Dudaand Curtis Granderson were traded away last season.  Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Daniel Murphy are distant memories.  Bartolo Colon is off making goofy barbecue ads in Texas.  Sandy Alderson, the man who orchestrated it all, “took a leave of absence” because he is battling cancer.

What we have left is good, really good.  We have seen Brandon Nimmo be the player the Mets hoped he would be when he was drafted.  After concerns about his shoulder, Michael Conforto was once again Michael Conforto in the second half.  Amed Rosario figured things out in the second half of the season, and Jeff McNeil seemingly came out of nowhere.

We watched deGrom reach a level we never thought possible making him a sure Cy Young award winner.  Zack Wheeler went from enigma to ace.  Steven Matz actually made 30 starts.  Finally, Noah Syndergaard seemed to return to form as the season drew to a close.  This is reminiscent of the pitching of 2015, pitching which led the Mets to a World Series.

Looking at it, the Mets had the best ERA in the majors in the second half (2.97), and they had the best record in the division in the second half (38-30).  When you combine the finish with the start, you can see there is a World Series contender somewhere in the fabric of that clubhouse.  In order for that to happen, the Wilpons are going to have to go out there and get the pieces necessary to put this team over the top.  If they were to do so, it would be the first time since they signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran in 2005, and added Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado the subsequent offseason.

Making bold moves like that to this core WILL put this team over the top, especially since Mickey Callaway and his staff grew during the season and showed they can be a coaching staff who can win you a World Series.

There’s a hesitation there.  After Madoff, no Mets fan can really be assured this team is going to make the bold moves they need to take this roster over the top.  Whatever hope you had was dashed when Jeff Wilpon told us all it was really Sandy Alderson who refused to spend and limited the size of the analytics department.

Thinking back, you realize this is partially why Wright retired without a ring.  Sure, the Shea Stadium days were different.  The Mets did add the aforementioned players, and they did make the Johan Santana trade.  But after that?  Well, it was Madoff and always finding themselves one or two players short.  After all, the Mets traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons partially because the team believed Eric Campbell, and his major league minimum salary, was part of the solution.

In the end, this is a really likeable team.  Watching Nimmo, Conforto, Rosario, deGrom, Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and the rest of this Mets team, you can’t help but like and root for these guys.  They are what makes being a Mets fan great.  We don’t want to see deGrom, who looks to take up Wright’s mantle as the next great Mets player, leave Flushing without a ring.  That can’t happen.

In the end, the ending of the 2018 season was a sad one.  Hopefully, that sadness will quickly subside as the Mets go forth and seize the opportunity that is here.  Hopefully, the 2019 season is going to be the year we finally see the Mets win another World Series.  I hope so because I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to celebrate it with all of my loved ones.

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.