It was a very poorly kept secret back in 2017 if he had his druthers Sandy Alderson wanted to hire Kevin Long to succeed Terry Collins as the New York Mets manager. Long didn’t take anything for granted coming extremely prepared for the interview with binders of information. More than that, he had already had a profound impact on the Mets organization rejuvenating Curtis Granderson while transforming Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy.
However, it wasn’t to be. Instead, Jeff Wilpon got it in his mind he wanted to have Mickey Callaway as the manager. Despite Callaway interviewing poorly, it was enough for Wilpon to hire Callaway after one interview because the Philadelphia Phillies showed interest. As Mets fans can recall, this went over about as well as when the Mets included Jarred Kelenic in the Robinson Cano trade because the Phillies showed interest in Edwin Diaz.
Since then, the managerial position has been a disaster for the Mets. Callaway proved to be an awful human being harassing female reporters. After him, the Mets hired and then were effectively forced to fire Carlos Beltran. In a mad scramble, they hired Luis Rojas while completely failing to give him any chance to succeed in the position. Rather that let him continue to grow, the team has decided they need to go in a different direction.
Now, there are many moving pieces before the Mets get to hire a new manager. The biggest is the need to hire a new president of baseball operations. Presumably, that is the person who will and should have the biggest input on who the Mets next manager will be. Whatever the case, the Mets have the right to correct the mistake they made in 2017 and hire Long.
For his part, Long served the world with a reminder why he was managerial material. During the National League Wild Card Game, he was sitting next to superstar Juan Soto, a player Long has helped get the most out of his ability. Soto was wearing a Trea Turner jersey (another player Long has helped immensely) while Long wore a Max Scherzer jersey.
Max Scherzer went over to high five Juan Soto and Kevin Long after the walk-off home run 😂 pic.twitter.com/HvV0s4FLzE
— Blake Finney (@FinneyBlake) October 7, 2021
In that moment, you saw everything you could have possibly wanted to see from a future manager of your team. He was standing there with his star player, a player in Soto he helped take from a 19 year old wunderkind to a bona fide Major League superstar. More than that, he showed the incredibly great relationship he fostered with his superstar player, the very type of relationship a manager absolutely needs to have any level of success.
We also saw the sense of loyalty he has for his players. He went out there to support both Turner and Scherzer. It was a moment which meant so much to them Scherzer made sure to go over to the stands to celebrate his team’s walk-off win with them. Keep in mind here, Scherzer is a free agent who should be on everyone’s radar.
When we look at the modern game and the current status of the managerial role, it is increasingly about relationships with the players and the ability to communicate. It’s no longer about Gil Hodges playing a hunch or Davey Johnson trusting his eyes over the data. Increasingly, it’s about taking the game plan prepared by the front office and not just executing it, but getting the players to buy in on the plan.
Putting aside what happened in the NL Wild Card Game, this is exactly what Long does. He helped transform Cespedes from a wild swinger to a player better able to identify his pitch and become a monster at the plate. There was also Murphy who went from gap to gap hitter to a legitimate threat at the plate. Murphy showed the 2015 postseason wasn’t a fluke by any means when he became an All-Star and MVP candidate with the Washington Nationals. It should be noted Long followed Murphy to Washington, D.C.
In total, Long is what you want in a manager. He can process data and translate it to players in a way where they can understand and execute it. We also see he is a coach who can foster great relationships with this players. He is also loyal to his players, and they love him. Short of being able to steal away the Bob Melvins of the world, you’re not going to find a better managerial candidate than Long.
Alderson knew it in 2017, and he can do what he wanted to do back then and make Long the Mets manager. If that is the case, we can expect the maddening Mets offense to finally click and for this team to reach the World Series potential we know they have.
The New York Mets obtained Javier Baez to be a difference maker as the team tries to hold on and win the division. In the 5-3 win against the Miami Marlins he was just that.
Gonna watch this Javy slide on repeat the rest of the night ✨ pic.twitter.com/fZeq8eFB6w
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 4, 2021
The Mets would eventually blow that 3-0 lead, but they’d get the lead back in the eighth when Baez hit the go-ahead homer in what would become a Mets 5-3 win:
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 5, 2021
In that game, Baez was much more Cespedes than Bruce. If that continues, the Mets will win this division. After that, if everyone gets heathy, who knows?
This should’ve been a great day for the New York Mets. The black uniforms were back for limited engagement, Carlos Carrasco was making his season debut, and they added Javier Baez at the trade deadline.
For his part, aside from surrendering a homer to Jonathan India on his first pitch, Carrasco was terrific. Over four innings, he allowed just that one run on three hits and one walk while striking out four.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 31, 2021
Jonathan Villar then hit into an inning ending double play. That was about it for the Mets offense for the night. They wouldn’t get a runner into scoring position until the eighth, and they squandered that opportunity as well.
It was still theoretically a game in the ninth as it was only 3-1. That was until the Reds roughed up Anthony Banda in his second inning of work for three runs making it a 6-1 Reds lead.
In the ninth, in what may prove to be his last Mets at-bat, Brandon Drury hit a pinch hit RBI double. It proved to be nothing more than window dressing in the Mets 6-2 loss.
As if that loss wasn’t bad enough, Nimmo was going to be taken out of the game with a hamstring issue resulting from a dividing catch. Jacob deGrom was shut down again with more forearm inflammation. It should also be noted with the Mets falling to add a reliever the bullpen struggled.
All told, even with the Baez addition, this was just about as bad a day as you can get. The Mets looked bad and might be in real trouble soon.
Pete Alonso called timeout two HRs away from eliminating Juan Soto to hype up the crowd 😂 pic.twitter.com/qrY1vLvGIJ
— ESPN (@espn) July 13, 2021
Finally, Alonso faced Trey Mancini in the finals. The cancer survivor was a crowd favorite, and really everyone on that planet, except Mets fans, were rooting for him.
Mancini had a great round hitting 22 homers. That just so happened to be the same amount Vlad Guerrero Jr. hit two years ago. Once again, Alonso beat that number.
PETE ALONSO WINS IT!
— ESPN (@espn) July 13, 2021
In total, Alonso hit a very nice 69 total homers. If not for his going second in his matchups against Soto and Mancini, he very likely would’ve hit more. Those homers traveled a combined 26 miles.
With that, Alonso joins Ken Griffey, Jr. and Yoenis Cespedes as the only players to successfully defend their title. There’s every chance Alonso can and will go for the three peat, sorry three Pete, next year in Los Angeles.
There have been many great at this event, but Alonso could be the best ever at this. Really, he’s to the Home Run Derby what Jacob deGrom is to pitching.
Speaking of deGrom, he won the Cy Young in 2019 when Alonso won the Home Run Derby. It looks like that feat will be repeated this year. Certainly, we can also expect the Mets to have a big second half much like they had that year as well.
When the New York Mets acquired Francisco Lindor, fans knew they were getting a future Hall of Famer. Well, it appears he is more than just that.
First and foremost, Lindor is just fun. He’s always smiling and seems to love playing more than anyone. Keep in mind, when you play with Brandon Nimmo that is really saying something.
He’s bringing an energy to the Mets much in the same way we once saw with Yoenis Cespedes and his Spring Training antics. For Lindor, that’s been dying his hair blue and donning the Eddie Murphy Mets jacket not only to go to work but later at picture day:
— New York Mets (@Mets) February 25, 2021
— New York Mets (@Mets) February 27, 2021
If we think this is fun, wait until he takes the field. When we see that, we’ll see what makes him a great player with an infectious personality. We should also see the Mets winning games.
In terms of that, Lindor is doing all he can to help the Mets be a winner in 2021. He’s already taken on a leadership role. We saw that in action as he worked to help J.D. Davis improve at third:
— David Lennon (@DPLennon) February 28, 2021
If Lindor can truly get Davis to even be competent at third, he will be pulling off a miracle. If miracle worker is part of his skill set, we probably shouldn’t be surprised.
Really, we shouldn’t be surprised by anything with Lindor. He’s fun. He’s a leader. He’s willing to help his teammates improve and raise their games.
All told, so far Lindor is everything promised, and he has already been far more. Just think, it’s already better than we all imagined, and he still hasn’t had the chance to wow us in the field.
The position of the New York Mets seems to be defense only matters when you can have a designated hitter. If you have no DH, then you need to shoehorn in as many bats as you can into the lineup. In other words, the Mets are purposefully going to put out a sub-optimal defense and torpedo their pitching staff because of one position.
It’s beyond ridiculous.
Brandon Nimmo has averaged a -4 DRS in center over the past three seasons, and that is despite his not having played more than 350.1 innings at the position in any one year. Dominic Smith has averaged -2 DRS in left over the past three seasons despite not having played more than 219.0 innings in any season. J.D. Davis has averaged a -6 DRS at third over the past three seasons despite not having played more than 269.1 innings there in a season.
All told, these three players have proven themselves ill suited to handle the positions they are currently slated to play. What is maddening when you look at Nimmo and Smith is they are actually quite good at their real positions. Nimmo has a 5 DRS as a left fielder in his career, and Smith, after taking away his rookie season, has a 0 DRS as a first baseman.
It just seems bizarre to purposefully put these players in a position to purposefully fail. Nimmo belongs in left, Smith belongs at first, and Davis belongs on the bench. If you are a team operating responsibly, that is what you should unequivocally do.
Obviously, this is not taking into account Pete Alonso. Frankly, the Mets not addressing this logjam was their way of ignoring Alonso. In reality, the Mets are carrying three first baseman with him, Smith, and Davis. That’s three players for one position. That number grows to four when you look at Jose Martinez, who was signed to a minor league deal.
The Mets unwillingness to move one of those players this offseason has created a very real problem with this roster. Unless it is all a smokescreen, which it very well might, the actual plan is to put three first baseman on the field everyday and put a left fielder in center. They then hope this plan which always fails doesn’t fail again this time.
For some reason, that is a Sandy Alderson tactic. In the early years of Citi Field, we saw him jam Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, and Daniel Murphy into the lineup. We also saw him try Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson in center rather than get a player who could actually go other there and handle the position on an everyday basis. At this point, you just wonder how much this was an accident and how much this is his actual plan.
Certainly, you can and should argue Alonso, Nimmo, and Smith need to play everyday. No one will argue with that proposition. However, they can’t do it all on the same roster. Center field is far too important of a defensive position.
You have to go back to 2012 and 2014 with the San Francisco Giants winning with Angel Pagan to find a team who won with a bad defensive center fielder. Before that, you have to go to Johnny Damon with the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Before that, there isn’t publicly available DRS information. All told, in this century, there is really just three seasons teams won without an at least decent center fielder.
If you are operating a baseball team, you can’t look at purposefully punt center field defense. It’s even worse by putting a first baseman next to the center fielder in left. Then, to make sure you’ve done all you can do to screw things up, you throw a first baseman at third in front of the third baseman in left. It’s ridiculous.
Really, there is no way the Mets can go forward with this roster to begin the season. They need to add an actual third baseman and an actual center fielder. If one of Alonso or Smith has to sit, so be it. That’s the position the Mets put themselves in. If you need to move one of them in a deal to address a need, do it, but only so long as it is a good deal.
All told, it is poor planning and team building to purposefully put out a terrible defensive outfield. We saw in 2020 how much that can completely derail a season. We’ve seen it other times in Mets history. Whether or not there is a DH, the Mets still need to find everyday players at third and center.
The year 2020 was hard on us all, but there were some truly outstanding and unexpected uplifting moments scattered throughout the year. In no particular order here were some of the best moments for the New York Mets in 2020:
1. Steve Cohen purchases the Mets ending the Wilpons reign.
2. Dominic Smith finds his voice and that next level in his game.
3. Michael Conforto emerged as a real leader and showed he’s the star we all hoped he’d be.
4. While not winning the Cy Young, Jacob deGrom continued to prove he’s the best pitcher in the game.
5. Yoenis Cespedes gave us one last thrill with an Opening Day game winning homer.
6. Edwin Diaz returned to his dominant form.
7. Amed Rosario hit a walk-off homer at Yankee Stadium to beat the New York Yankees.
9. Mets were once again allowed to wear the first responders caps.
10. Sandy Alderson returned restoring credibility to the franchise and was given the opportunity to win a World Series with the Mets.
11. Marcus Stroman accepted the qualifying offer to return to the Mets.
13. Pete Alonso proved his rookie year was no fluke putting himself on what would’ve been a 42 home run pace.
14. Although in a circuitous route, Luis Rojas got the manager job he earned and did enough to earn at least a second season at the helm.
15. Luis Guillorme was great with the glove and better than we ever anticipated he’d be at the plate.
16. Brandon Nimmo proved his neck problems were no more while remaining an on-base machine.
17. Rick Porcello got to live out his dream by pitching for the same Mets team he loved as a kid.
18. The 1986 Mets were dubbed the best team ever.
19. Alonso honored the greatest Met ever by hitting a walk-off homer the first game the Mets played after Tom Seaver passed.
20. It was only 60 games and the Mets finished in last place, but we got to see Mets baseball. For at least those 3+ hours a day, we felt normal.
If you’re reading this now, chances are you went through a lot this year. The good news is you’re reading this meaning you’ve survived the year and can have hope for a better 2021.
God willing, that 2021 will be our best year ever, and we will see a Mets World Series title.
According to reports, Jeff Wilpon has a Zoom call to say goodbye to New York Mets employees. Other reports confirmed he will not be seeking a role with the Steve Cohen led Mets even with his team holding onto a small minority ownership.
While he says goodbye, Mets fans say good riddance.
Everything that is wrong with the Mets is in large part due to him, and with him gone, he know stories will soon leak out about how he was even worse than what we already knew.
We already know they failed to capitalize on two pennants. In 2000, it was letting Mike Hampton walk, refusing to sign Alex Rodriguez, and then following that up with actually signing Kevin Appier and Steve Trachsel.
There was forcing players like Pedro Martinez to pitch through injuries which everyone said should’ve shut down his season, and there was the attempts to try to prevent Carlos Beltran from getting career saving knee surgery.
There was not just signing Jose Reyes, but also holding him out as a role model. Better yet, around the same time, Ed Kranepool needed a kidney transplant only for pettiness to stop the Mets from initially reaching out to help (thankfully they eventually did).
Speaking of Mets greats, there is still no Tom Seaver statue at Citi Field, and now Tom Terrific is gone. Even when the Wilpons did think to finally act, they did it when Seaver had dementia and couldn’t enjoy the honors.
There was firing an unwed pregnant woman and really so much more. With actions like this, not only did Jeff Wilpon fail as a person in charge of building a winner, he disgraced the Mets organization.
Speaking of disgrace, the way the Mets got rid of people was deplorable. No one was allowed to keep their dignity. Willie Randolph was fired one game into a west coast trip and after the Mets won. Instead admitting they didn’t want to pay them fair value Justin Turner had his professionalism questioned and Wilmer Flores was said to have an arthritic condition he didn’t have.
Hopefully, Jeff Wilpon will be afforded the very same treatment he gave others when they left the Mets. It would only be fitting, and it would give Mets fans more reason to celebrate his being gone.
According to reports, Steve Cohen is bringing Sandy Anderson back to the Mets as an advisor, and he is planning on finding a replacement for Brodie Van Wagenen. Both are excellent and needed decisions.
When it comes to Van Wagenen, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much damage he has done to the well built and talented Mets organization gift wrapped to him from Alderson. Essentially, all that Alderson built needs to be rebuilt.
Van Wagenen was given a starting staff comprised of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz. Behind them were well regarded prospects in Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson.
The Mets rotation over the final week of the 2020 season will be deGrom, Rick Porcello, maybe Matz, and who knows what else?
The position player core was remarkably cheap and talented. There was Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and Amed Rosario. Behind them was Andres Gimenez and Jarred Kelenic.
Sure, there were some bad contracts, but they were short term in nature, and they were not going to serve as an impediment to either building on or retaining this core.
For example, the Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes contacts were set to expire after this season. That coincided perfectly with having to have the money to re-sign deGrom and to have extension talks with Conforto, Matz, and Syndergaard.
Instead, the Mets no longer have Kelenic giving them a buffet against losing one of Conforto or Nimmo. They also have Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract on the books which already served as an impediment to re-signing Wheeler.
That’s nothing to say of the quality prospect purge in the same of finding a late inning defensive replacement in center for a team who already had Juan Lagares and adding J.D. Davis to a team already overstocked in 1B/DH players.
Couple this with the Mets getting rid of Wilmer Flores for nothing only for him to be more productive than anyone Van Wagenen brought into the organization and signing Jed Lowrie for $20 million to get eight pinch hitting attempts, and the Van Wagenen stint as GM has been an unmitigated disaster.
If you want to point to Van Wagenen’s drafts as a positive, you should. However, in doing that, remember, that was a scouting group built by Alderson and Omar Minaya. The Mets will be keeping both advisors.
When you take everything into account, Alderson built the Mets to be a competitive team in 2019 and 2020. With any luck, he had a deep farm system to make the types of trades he made in 2015 to help get the team over the top.
The real window for this Mets team was supposed to open in 2021. Given the talent on the Major League roster and in the farm system, it promised to be a 1980s like run.
Instead, Alderson is back to figure out how yo fix this mess. Fortunately for him, he won’t have Van Wagenen or Jeff Wilpon standing in his way. Instead, he will have an owner with deep pockets who intends to let smart baseball people like Alderson do their jobs.
When Marcus Stroman opted out, he did so because he has high risk family members. The same was true for Yoenis Cespedes. In fact, when Stroman opted out of the 2020 season, he specifically pinpointed this Mets road trip to Miami:
You see the Cardinals, the Marlins, you see (case) spikes everywhere in the country. You see protocols not being handled properly, from citizens everywhere. You see us going to Florida (to play the Marlins) soon. That was a big discussion I had with my family — going to see the Marlins. I don’t think that’s something where I want to be in that situation.
Well, after taking the first three of what was supposed to be a four game set with the Marlins, one Mets player and one Mets coach has tested positive for COVID19.
The Mets finale against the Marlins wasn’t played. The first two games of the Subway Series appears like they are going to be cancelled. If the Marlins and Cardinals previous outbreaks are any indication, the Mets aren’t playing anytime soon.
Worse than that, two human beings, after all that’s what a player and coach are, are now ill. As we’ve seen with other COVID19 cases, they may face serious and lifelong health issues. The same potentially goes for anyone they’ve come into contact.
This was exactly what Stroman feared. That same for Cespedes. The worst case scenario becoming true is exactly why they made the right decision.
To their detractors, you owe them an apology.
Overall, Stroman and Cespedes made decisions to protect their families. They did it at the cost of millions of dollars. And if you didn’t think their decisions were justified or felt they were alarmist, well, now, it’s unequivocal that they made the right decision.
Today, Stroman and Cespedes are safe. Hopefully, the same is true for the 26 other Mets players and the rest of the coaching staff who have not tested positive (yet). Hopefully, the player and coach who tested positive will suffer no long term heath issues.
Hopefully, those who did not support Stroman’s and Cespedes’ decisions now realize how wrong they were.