Yoenis Cespedes

Juan Lagares’ Last Hurrah

This game wasn’t even close. The Mets absolutely destroyed the Diamondbacks hitting six homers and Marcus Stroman having his best start as a Met in their 11-1 win. There were all sorts of records.

It was the first time in team history they hit five homers in consecutive games. With the six homers, they’ve eclipsed their single season team record of homers at home.

Those homers came courtesy of Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, Robinson Cano, Tomas Nido, and Michael Conforto (number 30 for number 30). If you noticed that’s just five names meaning someone must’ve hit two.

That would be Lagares. If you think you are incredulous, you should’ve heard Gary Cohen’s call for Lagares’ first career grand slam:

It was Lagares’ first homer at home since September 7, 2017. He wouldn’t have to wait much longer for his next one. The liost of Mets center fielders fo homer and collect such RBI are Lagares and Yoenis Cespedes.

His game had everyone happy for him. Fans cheered him. His teammates were elated. There was universal love and admiration for the player who is currently the longest tenured Met. He’s also a player who is a pending free agent, which means these could be the final days of Lagares’ Mets career.

Lagares has been the single most talented defensive outfielder. He won the Gold Glove in 2014, and he probably should’ve won the year prior. He was a player who always played the game the right way. He always hustled, and as you would hear from the Mets, he would leave no stone upturned in trying to improve as a player.

There are some who may want to dwell on his never being the player they hoped he would be. Part of the reason that was the case was the injuries, which were largely the result of his hustling like none other. It did lead to the Mets moving him away from being an everyday player to his being a role player. He never did receive enough credit for willingly accepting the role for the betterment of the team and not disrupting the clubhouse.

In the end, Lagares was a player who just wanted to win. On that front, he did all he could do with an excellent 2015 postseason. He also had an excellent stretch this year helping the Mets get back into contention. If the Mets are going to continue to contend this year, they’re going to need his glove, and on days like yesterday, his bat. When he hits like that he’s going to receive the love and admiration of Mets fans and players.

Yesterday was probably his last great game as a Mets player. It was probably the last time he’s going to receive the cheers he received. It might’ve been the last time the Mets fans got to say thank you for his performance on the field without having to say good-bye.

It was a great moment yesterday for someone who has been a good Met in his career. He’s been someone who has always played the game the right way, and he is someone who has been worthy of our admiration and respect. This was probably his last hurrah on this front for personal accomplishments. The good news is there is still more time for him to help experience glory in a Mets uniform. If that’s going to happen, the Mets are going to need him.

Mets Season Now Hinges On Juan Lagares & Joe Panik

As bad as it looked, it sounded worse. Jeff McNeil hit the first base bag awkwardly, and he was clearly in pain hobbling and hopping around in foul territory. After the game, he and Mickey Callaway tried to put a good face on it, but they came across despondent.

Even if this isn’t the worst case scenario, it looks like McNeil will have to miss sometime. We can pray for a game or two, but it’s probably more than that.

No matter the length of time, the Mets are now going to have to rely on Juan Lagares and Joe Panik to produce instead of looking at them being complimentary players.

If you want to be glass half full, Lagares seems to be locked in recently. We saw a vintage Lagares defensive play when he robbed Yan Gomes of an extra base hit on Saturday. Last night, he was 4-for-4 against the Braves. That matched his hit total for all of July, and it was his fifth four hit game in his seven year career.

Looking back, the last time Lagares had struggled offensively and defensively like this was in 2015. Those struggles led to the Mets first trying to obtain Carlos Gomez, and then later “settling” on Yoenis Cespedes.

In 2015, after the Mets obtained Cespedes and the Mets started playing more meaningful games, Lagares stepped up god game. From August 1 until the end of the season, he hit .287/.326/.471. In that postseason, Lagares hit .348/.375/.435.

Maybe, Lagares has that ability to raise his game in these pressure situations. That’s at least the hope now.

The other hope is Panik can raise his game right now. So far, he hasn’t hit much with the Mets going 2-for-10 with a walk. However, what he has contributed has counted for something.

His single Friday led to Michael Conforto‘s walk off hit. His teaching on an error on Saturday led to J.D. Davis‘ go-ahead sacrifice fly. His RBI single Sunday was part of a three run inning to tie the game at 3-3.

That’s what the Mets need from Lagares and Panik. There’s no way they can match what McNeil gave the Mets. There’s maybe five players in all of baseball who could do that. Maybe. Instead, they need to make their hits count while also reaching back and rediscovering their Gold Glove form.

More than anything, if they give the Mets very good to elite defense, the Mets still have a chance. Both players have the skills to do it, so to that end, there’s a legitimate chance.

If they do that, they help the pitching, which in turn, lowers the bar on the amount of runs the Mets need to score to win.

The onus for scoring those runs will have to be shared collectively by the lineup. At the moment, you can’t ask more from Davis than what he’s been giving. The same goes for Wilson Ramos.

The burden shifts to Amed Rosario to pick it back up after going 4-for-23 over his last five games. Todd Frazier needs to return or get close to his June form. Pete Alonso has to get back to his first half form instead of being the guy hitting .188 in that second half hitting the occasional homer. Finally, no matter how good Conforto has been, as a leader and as a guy who’s been here before, he needs to raise his game to another level.

If these things happen, and you get a spark from one of Ruben Tejada, Dilson Herrera, and/or Arismendy Alcantara from Triple-A or a Luis Guillorme and Aaron Altherr from the Major League roster, McNeil missing any time doesn’t have to be a death knell for the season.

Overall, everyone on this roster raising their game is very possible. However, nothing is going to be possible unless Lagares and Panik raise their games. I’d they don’t do that, chances are McNeil missing time will be the reason the Mets moss the postseason.

Mets Schedule Is More Difficult But It’s Also An Opportunity

After losing three out of four to the Giants in San Francisco, the New York Mets had 16 games to make a last ditch effort to become relevant. The Mets did just that by winning 14 of those 16 games. Over that stretch, the Mets saw their record go from nine games under .500 to three games over. They also saw themselves go from seven games behind the second Wild Card and 14 games in the division to one game out of a Wild Card spot and eight games back in the division.

Now, we are about to find out if this Mets team is for real.

As easy as the Mets schedule was coming out of the All-Star Break, it is going to be that difficult for the next month. From August 9 to September 15, the Mets play 37 games with 34 of those games coming against teams with a record of .500 or better. When you consider this stretch includes games against the Nationals, Braves, Cubs, and Phillies, you see how the Mets have a real opportunity to face their direct competition and beat them.

As a team still chasing, you cannot ask for a better opportunity. For starters, the Mets are hosting the Nationals this weekend in a series which suddenly has the feels of the July 31 – August 2 series after the Mets obtained Yoenis Cespedes at the 2015 trade deadline. Depending on how this series goes, the Mets could find themselves either four games out and under .500 again, or they could pull themselves into a tie with the Nationals in the standings . . . just like they did in 2015.

One other point here is the Mets are not exactly out of the division race either. With this recent winning streak, they made up six games in the division. The Braves have not been playing as well of late with their being just two games over .500 since the All Star Break. It’s also noteworthy their key trade deadline acquisition, Shane Greene, blew a save and took the loss in his first two games as a Brave. As Mike Petriello of MLB.com points out this may Greene regressing after an unsustainable stretch in Detroit.

The Mets having six games against the Braves gives them a real opportunity to take the Mets chances of winning the division from fantasy to reality. Again, the Mets chances of winning either the Wild Card and the division will hinge on how they play against direct competition.

This is also the exact time the Mets want to face these teams. Since the All Star Break, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are the two best starters in the National League with Seth Lugo being the best reliever in all of baseball. Zack Wheeler has a 15.0 scoreless inning streak. Pete Alonso has homered in three straight, and Michael Conforto is red hot. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

While the Mets 37 game stretch is absolutely brutal, it should be noted that 22 of those games are at home where the Mets are 12 games over .500. Of note, the Mets 20 losses is the fewest home losses in the division with only the Yankees, Astros, Cubs, and Dodgers having fewer losses at home. Put another way, when the Mets are at home, they are as good a team in baseball. That is evidenced by their 113 home wRC+ and 3.76 home FIP being the second best in the National League.

The Mets also have three games at Nationals Park. The Mets have split the first six games with the Nationals there this year, and they are 9-6 at Nationals Park since Mickey Callaway took over as the Mets manager. The Mets are also 8-5 against the Nationals this year, and they are not going to have to face Max Scherzer this weekend and possibly not in the next series.

Another note here is three of the Mets 15 road games come against the Royals who have a -109 run differential and are 12 games under .500 at home. Another three come against the Phillies, and the Mets have historically played well at Citizen’s Bank Park. In fact, the Mets have an all-time 79-67 record there even if they are just 1-6 there this season.

The Mets having a losing record at Citizen’s Bank Park this year brings us to the bad news. The Mets are 28-40 (.412) against teams over .500. If they play that way against teams with a winning record now, they are going to be well out of the postseason picture. When focusing on the specific teams the Mets will face, their records against those teams so far this year does not paint a better picture:

  • Braves 4-6
  • Cubs 2-2
  • Diamondbacks 1-2
  • Dodgers 1-3
  • Phillies 4-9
  • Nationals 8-5

That’s a combined 20-27 (.425). If the Mets play to a similar record, even with a sweep of the Royals, that’s a 17-20 stretch. That puts the Mets at .500 and likely dead.

That all said, this Mets team is different. As noted, the pitching staff is pitching like the best in baseball, and that is before Marcus Stroman gets a turn in the rotation on regular rest. The defense has been much better with Amed Rosario turning the corner. In fact, Rosario has turned the corner completely, and he has finally broken out.

No matter how you look at it, the Mets schedule is an opportunity. If they play well, they can secure the division and possibly put the division in play. If they can stay alive, their reward is 10 straight games against sub .500 teams before the final weekend of the season.

Whether this schedule is a blessing or a curse will depend entirely on how the Mets play. With them going 14-2 over their last 16, they are playing baseball as well as they have all season, and on that front, this is exactly the right time to take on this challenge.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Sweep Marlins Like Good Teams Do

The Mets are three games over .500 for the first time since April 23rd. They are now just one game behind in the Wild Card race, and they are eight games out in the division. Things are much more interesting in Queens.

1. The Mets went 14-2 against an easy stretch of games which included the Padres, White Sox, Pirates, and Marlins. Malign this all you want, but this is exactly how good teams play against bad teams.

2. The pivotal point in this series was with the Mets trailing 4-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh in the second game of the doubleheader. The homers by J.D. Davis, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso saved the game, and it served not just as a launching pad for the Mets winning that game but also sweeping the series. Who knows how much further that inning will take them.

3. Davis has been the Mets best hitter at home. For some reason, Citi Field is like Coors Field to him. With the Mets having a lot of home games remaining, he becomes increasingly more important to the team.

4. Conforto has arguably been the Mets best player in the second half. Since the All Star Break, he is hitting .315/.406/.641. Before his concussion, Conforto was hitting .274/.412/.519. Ultimately, when he is healthy, this is the level of player Conforto is, and that level is being a great player.

5. Alonso has homered in three straight, and he is just two behind Cody Bellinger‘s National League Rookie record. He is four behind the Mets single season record shared by Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltran. He’s followed every bad month with a good month. His defense has been much better than it was last year. What else is there to say about him?

6. Like many of the Mets players, Wilson Ramos has stepped it up. So far in August, he is hitting .417/.440/.708. To a certain extent, this outburst should have been foreseen. Traditionally, August is Ramos’ second best month of the season, and he hit .337/.396/.483 in the second half for the Rays and Phillies last year.

7. The Mets need these bats and others to step up in Robinson Cano‘s absence. While Cano has been frustrating at times, his replacements have not fared that well this year. The combination of Aaron Altherr, Luis Guillorme, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Juan Lagares have combined to go 2-for-26 with a run, three walks, a double, and 10 strikeouts.

8. Seeing this production, the Mets should go out and claim Joe Panik. As noted yesterday, even at a 69 wRC+, Panik would be the best hitter of this group. His defense would also be an improvement over what Cano offered. It should also be noted Panik has some upside as well.

9. On the idea of upside candidates, the Mets need some bullpen help. The Mets appear loathe to use Donnie Hart and Chris Mazza, and the Mets cannot continue to operate with no trust at all with two of the arms in their bullpen. On that front, Cody Allen, Brad Brach, and Greg Holland are available. The Mets also have quality organization options in Chris Flexen, Eric Hanhold, and Paul Sewald.

10 One interesting development with no August trades is we are seeing teams designate players for assignment now instead of floating them through waivers and holding onto them until competing teams look to obtain them right before rosters expand to 40 in September.

11. As we have seen with Lee Mazzilli and Addison Reed, the player the Mets obtain in August can make a huge different for a team looking to win a pennant and a World Series. Given the team’s depth and bullpen issues, they need to take a hard look at whomever hits the waiver wire over the next few weeks.

12. There was a time where people were calling for Mickey Callaway to be fired, and now, we are seeing writers begin to advocate for his winning National League Manager of the Year.

13. Remember most discussions about the manager are narrative driven and are reflective of a team’s performance. They are rarely, if ever, resultant of actual analysis of player progression and effort.

14. The Mets need better than Wayne Randazzo on the radio. He has no sense of team history, and as evidenced by his being unaware of egg creams, he’s not even well versed in the area. Really, when you break it down, you really have to question what he does well.

15. It certainly isn’t analysis with his attributing Conforto’s success to Alonso. Aside from the studies refuting the concept of lineup protection, it’s absurd a hitter as good as Conforto needed lineup protection to succeed.

16. The Mets radio play-by-play job is perhaps the radio job with the highest standards there are. Two of the greatest to ever do it, Bob Murphy and Gary Cohen, have held that job. Howie Rose is every bit their peer. We need better than Randazzo.

17. The Mets defense has been much better of late. We saw this with the Mets infield turning 10 double plays against the Marlins. When you play defense this way, all the pitchers look better. The real key has been Amed Rosario becoming a plus defender at SS.

18. Jason Vargas getting roughed up by the Diamondbacks is a reminder bad players outplaying their peripherals regress, and the Mets trading him to the Phillies was the one trade which really helped the Mets chances of grabbing a Wild Card.

19. The last time things were like this with the Mets, they had just obtained Yoenis Cespedes right before sweeping the Nationals to tie for the division lead and make a march towards the pennant. This year is starting to have the same feeling.

20. Marcus Stroman‘s first Citi Field start is going to be absolutely electric. That game and the series cannot get here soon enough.

Assessing Mets Marcus Stroman Trade

Before going into the weeds on the cost, it should first be noted the Mets are a much better team for getting Marcus Stroman. This is a pitcher who has pitched quite well in the AL East, and he is a pitcher with big game experience being named the World Baseball Classic MVP in addition to some really good postseason performances.

Stroman grew up a Mets fan, and as a result, the Mets are getting a player who should become a fan favorite in short order. Assuming no other moves for a moment, the Mets rotation is very clearly the best in baseball, and you can argue acquiring Stroman makes their chances of making the postseason this year significantly better.

The one ding people will bring up with Stroman is he’s reliant upon a good infield defense to be successful, and the Mets defense has not been good this year. On that note, the Blue Jays have been a below average defensive team this year with a -6 DRS with them having a -4 DRS at first, -9 DRS at second, 1 DRS at third, and a 0 DRS at shortstop. With the Mets having Todd Frazier at third and Amed Rosario playing a to positive DRS in the second half, they fair well in comparison to the Blue Jays. Eliminate the turf, and you can argue this is actually a better situation for Stroman to be even better.

Now, if the Mets were in the position the Braves were in, you understand this trade. Stroman is the piece which arguably puts the Mets over the top. When you roll out Jacob deGromNoah SyndergaardMarcus StromanZack WheelerSteven Matz in your rotation, you’re dangerous in both the regular season and post season. As for the bullpen issues, with that collection of five guys, the Mets could take a page out of Alex Cora‘s book last postseason and utilize their starters to dominate the entire series.

Stroman would be an overpay, but it would be one along the lines of the Cubs trading Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman. If you win the World Series, who cares? In some ways, Stroman is even better than that because he is under control for next year as well. This not only gives you the best rotation in baseball right now, but it puts you in a position where you’ve insulated your team from losing Wheeler in the offseason.

The problem with the Mets is they’re five games under .500, and they are six games out of the division and the Wild Card. They are in real striking distance, but they also have many obstacles in their way.

The Mets have three teams ahead of them in the division, and they have four teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. The team just lost Dominic Smith which somehow depletes an already suspect outfield depth even further, and it also stands in the way of the Mets finding some more games for Pete Alonso, who is really struggling so far in the second half.

Speaking of depth, the Mets already suspect starting pitching depth did take a hit. On the one hand, yes, assuming no other moves, acquiring Stroman exponentially improves the depth as he’s a significant upgrade over Jason Vargas, who should now find himself in the bullpen. On that note, the bullpen also looks better. However, that assumes no other moves.

At the moment, it seems the Mets are looking to move Noah Syndergaard in a companion move to help fill out the current roster. Of note, the team still desperately needs a center fielder. It should be noted with the current rumors, Manuel Margot isn’t that guy. He’s yet to be a league average hitter in his career, and he’s a -1 DRS this year in center. On that front, it should be noted he was really good prior to this year with an 8 DRS in 2017 and a 9 DRS in 2018.

If the Mets move Syndergaard, they are again relying on Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt to be their starting pitching depth this year and the next. Aside from one Lockett start this year, that is misplaced faith. This means the Mets need David Peterson to step up instead of hoping one of him or Anthony Kay are ready.

Like with trading Justin Dunn to the Mariners, trading Kay hurt the depth, and it deprived the organization of real starting pitching upside. It also eliminated the possibility of taking either pitcher to send them out there and try to replicate with Seth Lugo or to a lesser extent Robert Gsellman are doing.

Being fair, in the end a package headlined by Kay was a fair return for Stroman. It did make sense to gamble Kay away for the year plus of Stroman, especially if you are really going to go for it as an organization. On that note, they did not do that after trading Jarred Kelenic and Dunn in the trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. On the Cano point, the Mets are up against the luxury tax next year, and they seem to be already using it as an excuse not to add despite the team collecting tens of millions of dollars in insurance proceeds on David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes while also deferring $12 million of deGrom’s contract.

From a Mets standpoint, the part of the deal which really hurts is Simeon Woods Richardson. This is an 18 year old pitcher already pitching for a full season affiliate. He is getting his fastball up to 97 MPH with a promising and developing curve and change which could both be plus pitches. Despite being almost four years younger than the competition, he is striking out 11.1 batters per nine while having an incredible 5.71 K/BB. This is a special arm, and the Mets traded him away with a top 100 prospect for one plus year of Stroman.

On the Woods Richardson front, the Mets were beyond loaded with teenage talent heading into this year. In addition to him, the Mets had Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos, Francisco Alvarez, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and others along with a pitcher like Thomas Szapucki. This was a group poised to break into the majors around 2022, and when they came up, the Mets could have really had a prolonged World Series window open.

With Brodie Van Wagenen as the General Manager, that is what he has been trading away. He has severely hampered the next window from opening. Of course, that assumes the Mets window is currently open. This is a big reason why many baseball people don’t understand this trade. This seems one of those moments like when they pulled off the Cano deal or Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano the Mets are trying to tell us they are smarter then everyone when they’re really not.

Ultimately, you may not like this trade, but you would have certainly understood it if the Mets were 10 games over .500. They’re not. This trade becomes all the more puzzling when you consider they are supposedly doing this as a precursor to trading Syndergaard. Really, when looking at the entire plan right now, none of this makes sense. It makes even less sense if you are trading Syndergaard for prospects because the Mets just obtained one plus year of Stroman and not five.

Overall, this was an overpay for Stroman, and depending on what the Mets do now, it could be a completely unforced error. Typically in these moments, you like to sit and wait before passing judgment on the total plan, but considering how Van Wagenen has lost every trade he’s made thus far, there shouldn’t be much hope this was the first strike in what is one grand master plan.

In essence, enjoy Stroman while he’s a Met. He’s a fun player and really good pitcher who is coming home to pitch for the team he rooted for when he was growing up. Also, root for another hometown kid in Kay and hope Woods Richardson fulfills his potential. Root for everyone to succeed because it helps the Mets in the short term, and it will also help in the long run to remind the Mets that they’re really not better at this than everyone else. They have been and will continue to be considerably worse until Jeff Wilpon realizes he’s the problem.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Beat Padres While On Verge Of Losing Everything Else

The Mets took two out of three against the Padres. It is something which should have further propelled them into the Wild Card race. However, after losing three out of four to the Giants, it matters little. Of course, with all things Mets right now, it’s the off the field stuff which really matters.

1. Take all the pitchers across Major League history. I may just take Jacob deGrom in a daytime start over all of them.

2. In 2020, deGrom and Noah Syndergaard should be the best 1-2 punch in baseball, but they won’t be because the Mets are grossly incompetent, and they will look to trade Syndergaard for well under value. What’s humorous about that is the smartest teams in baseball are lining up begging the Mets to be stupid and trade him.

3. The amount of Mets fans who are happy to see Syndergaard traded and can’t recognize the greatness of a top 20 FIP pitcher in a down year is bizarre. Hopefully, these people enjoy watching Walker Lockett pitch every fifth day next year.

4. After the fiasco of trading Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to the Mariners, you would think the Mets would refrain from making bold moves with young talent. But no, they’re going to do something stupid again.

5. Speaking of that trade, Robinson Cano had a three home run game snapping a 3-for-21 stretch. After the game, he would go 1-for-5. These good moments are fleeting.

6. This is a New York baseball franchise, and they are talking about Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler as an either/or proposition and not a as locking up both to win now and in the future. It is emabarassing Major League Baseball allows this to continue especially with the Wilpons pocketing the insurance proceeds from Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright and leveraging the Mets/SNY to keep themselves personally solvent and invest in the Overwatch League.

7. Dominic Smith had a very bad day in left field during Syndergaard’s start. That’s two poor days in the past week. The only conclusion we should draw from this was he’s inexperienced and the Mets decision not to give him time to prepare to be the left fielder during the offseason, Spring Training, and during the regular season was myopic and stupid.

8. No one knows yet if Smith can be capable in left field, but what we have learned with him is we should never count him out.

9. Another point here is the Mets should stick with Smith for the rest of the year as there are no other options on the roster at least until Brandon Nimmo returns. Of course, that assumes he can return at some point this year. Considering his injury and how poorly the Mets handled it, that’s not a safe assumption.

10. Pete Alonso has had a difficult time after the All-Star Break hitting just .125/.333/.350. He’s falling into the same bad habits pulling the ball and striking out which led to his not getting called up at the end of last year. His defense is also slipping of late.

11. It is way too soon to be concerned about Alonso. After all, he followed a bad May with a great June. On the front, we should only caution we do not know where he true talent level lies at the Major League level or what type of player he will be with teams making adjustments pitching to him.

12. The only untouchable players in trades should be deGrom, Syndergaard, and Jeff McNeil. They are the only three players without a suitable replacement for what they do, and the Mets depth chart does not allow them to easily replace them on the roster.

13. With every passing day, the thing which becomes most clear is the Mets need a center fielder. Looking forward, there isn’t going to be one on the free agent market, so before people go up in arms about being willing to trade Alonso, they should first ask themselves the following questions: (1) How do you propose you get a center fielder? (2) Is this team better as is, or would they be better with Smith at first and really good center fielder?

14. Alonso needs to pick it up because he is in danger of getting passed in the Rookie of the Year competition. Recently, Fernando Tatis Jr. has narrowed the WAR gap, and he is surging.

15. Why are the Mets surprised on the lack of interest in Todd Frazier? In addition to him struggling in July, the teams in contention are fairly set at third, and we know the Mets don’t eat money to help facilitate deals or to get better returns.

16. Somewhere M. Donald Grant is laughing while watching Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon make a mockery of this proud franchise. Seriously, this combination may be worse than Grant, and Grant is the person who facilitated the Tom Seaver trade and the Midnight Massacre.

17. Michael Conforto has arguably been the Mets best hitter in the second half which should come as no surprise as he’s a very good hitter. Mets fans really don’t appreciate just how good a player he is.

18. Even with Juan Lagares going 2-for-4 yesterday, he looks done as a baseball player. If so, that’s a sad end to not just an exciting player to watch, but a real hard worker who busted it everyday. Hopefully, this is a one year blip, and he lands on his feet somewhere next year.

19. The Mets have a very talented young core with no hope of winning this year and really the next few years. This is the worst place to be a franchise, and it is a terrible spot to be in as a fan. Again, the Wilpons are incompetent owners, and they put an agent in charge instead of Chaim Bloom. I really don’t know what fans did to deserve this level of incompetence.

20. It’s funny how the Mets are now considering trading Edwin Diaz. Doing so would be to hit the reset button on a terrible trade. An even better idea would be to hit the reset button on a terrible hire and replace Van Wagenen with a capable General Manager.

Chick-fil-A Foul Poles Show Mets Hold Nothing Sacred

When it comes to the New York Mets ownership under the Wilpons, one thing which becomes increasingly clear is just how little they think of their fanbase. When Citi Field was built, it was an over-the-top tribute to the Brooklyn Dodgers with very little honoring the history of the New York Mets.

The exterior of the ballpark was an homage to Ebbets Field. There was the Jackie Robinson Rotunda but nothing honoring Tom Seaver or other Mets greats. The Mets Hall of Fame was nowhere to be seen. They actually removed Dwight Gooden‘s signature from the wall and invented a lie that there would soon be an autographed wall with signatures from Mets greats. There were also many obstructed views. On that front, the Mets made matters worse:

Looking at the image, aside from home plate, first base, and a good portion of right field, what you cannot see is the new advertisements added to the foul poles at Citi Field. Here’s another image to show the new minor league park like advertisements the ballpark now has:

Now, there are many reasons why people would be justifiably angry with these advertisements in the ballpark. On that front, it is beyond amusing to consider one of the reasons purportedly offered for the Mets not wanting to keep Daniel Murphy was his comments on this topic. Perhaps if he offered back part of his contract to advertise on the foul poles, the Mets would have won the 2016 World Series.

Social issues aside, there are other reasons to be annoyed with this. First and foremost, there are now obstructed view seats in the ballpark where there weren’t previously. This means if you bought a ticket for full price to sit in those two areas, you know have an obstructed view seat. Of course, if you go to the Mets website, it should be noted these seats are not designated as obstructed view nor are they discounted to reflect their new status.

After all, if that was done, this could not be as effective a money grab as the Wilpons wanted this to be.

Another factor not discussed is the orange foul poles were uniquely Mets. They are the only team in baseball with foul poles which were not yellow. Even with all the Brooklyn Dodger nonsense around Citi Field, the Wilpons actually kept the orange foul poles keeping something uniquely Mets in their new home. To some Mets fans, those foul poles are iconic. Now? Well, their effect is as obstructed as the views which are now being blocked.

These foul poles are another cash grab much like putting an Amway office in Citi Field was. Like that Amway office, this is another way the Mets have actively tried to make themselves a joke at the promise of another dollar. Already, people are rushing to make the joke that neither Chick-fil-A or the Mets work on Sunday. While the Mets go out of their way to make themselves a laughingstock, sorry  more of a laughingstock, like the David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes insurance proceeds, this is another buck which the Wilpons will pocket and not reinvest in the team.

Overall, the Chick-fil-A foul poles represent everything wrong with the Mets under the Wilpons stewardship, so in the end, the new foul poles are perhaps more fitting that originally contemplated.

 

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Look Like The Arnold Schwarzenegger Twin

The Mets had a two game set against the Twins as they continued their nine game road trip where they hoped to possibly bring themselves back into the Wild Card race:

1. Amed Rosario is playing the best baseball of his MLB career. Not only has he been red hot in July, but he has also played to a 2 DRS at short since the All Star Break. It’s a small sample size for sure, but it’s all a very encouraging sign.

2. Another good sign from the middle infield is Robinson Cano hitting again. His July numbers are reminiscent of the Cano of old, and like we saw on Tuesday, even when he’s not hitting, he can still drive in a run with an out.

3. Michael Conforto seems to have shaken off the effects of his concussion earlier in the year. In addition to his hitting like Conforto again, he made a terrific play in center field to rob Nelson Cruz of an extra base hit.

4. People calling Conforto overrated or a bust absolutely know nothing about baseball. It should be noted before his concussion, Conforto was hitting ..271/.406/.521 and in the 39 games after leading into the break he hit .217/.309/.420. We should be highlighting with Jason Bay and Ryan Church the Mets have a putrid history of dealing with players with concussions and not how a player struggles after suffering one.

5. Steven Matz‘s final line looked much better than how he pitched. He was hit hard by the Twins, and he was really lucky to allow just two earned over four. Still, it’s a positive step from where he was a month ago, so the hope is he can build off of it. Note, the use of the word hope and not expect.

6. Like Matz, Edwin Diaz has been hit really hard of late, and he is escaping trouble. While he converted that save on Tuesday, that was far too much of a high wire act, and it’s questionable how long the Mets can hang with these 20+ pitch innings and his walking the tightrope.

7. Even with Diaz allowing lasers, the bullpen has been MUCH better of late. After a 7.53 bullpen ERA in June, the team has a 3.78 July bullpen ERA which is tied for 10th best in the majors. This is partially the result of the Mets leaning on Seth Lugo perhaps more than they should and the return of Justin Wilson from the IL.

8. It looks like Ricky Bones helped fixed Jeurys Familia. He had two big and important appearances. We also saw him throwing that 99 MPH sinker again. Maybe this was all just mechanical with him, and that may or may not have been attributable to the shoulder issues. In any event, Familia finally looks like he is back on track.

9. We only get small snapshots of teams in Interleague Play, especially in two game sets, but it’s surprising to see this Twins team being atop the AL Central. Is this the result of the AL depth being that bad, or was this just a bad series? In any event, you take a two game sweep against a good team.

10. That six run inning against the Twins was huge. It took what could have been a tightrope walk with a bullpen leaned on heavily a bit of late, and it allowed the Mets to go to Chris Mazza to eat up two innings. That is a huge development which cannot be undersold.

11. While Dominic Smith hit the go-ahead pinch hit three run homer, it was Pete Alonso‘s 474 foot blast anyone could talk about. Certainly, that’s all Steve Gelbs wanted to talk about with Smith in the postgame. That and his striking out against a position player. To that end, why does everyone find Gelbs so charming? I don’t get it.

12. Gary Discarcina not sending Rosario to go try to get that inside-the-park homer was no fun at all.

13. It is really surprising the Mets would catch Wilson Ramos in a day game after a night game given his injury history and the fact the Mets were about to get on a flight to go to San Francisco after the game. You have to wonder how much the wear and tear here will linger.

14. Mets need to watch their usage of Lugo. As the pressure has ratcheted up a bit, they keep going to the whip there. When they did that with Robert Gsellman earlier in the year, they lost him. Really, at some point, the Mets need to learn this lesson before they lose a key piece.

15. Right now, you should feel good about the Mets. Whether we should feel good a week from now will depend on how they play.

16. With a 0.2 WAR, Wilmer Font was the best performing player Brodie Van Wagenen obtained via trade, and he was designated for assignment and traded to the Blue Jays for cash considerations. This is both hilarious and a fine example of how completely inept Van Wagenen has been as the Mets General Manager.

17. Mets fans seem to want to defend the team on designating Travis d’Arnaud for assignment much like how they defend the team’s decisions on Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner, Hansel Robles, Collin McHugh, and others. Really, at what point do fans stop defending the team and just start asking why the Jeff Wilpon led team continues to make poor assessments and decisions like these?

18. Zack Wheeler getting hurt pretty much means the Mets need to hold onto him and offer him a qualifying offer because it’s doubtful the Mets are going to get a return commensurate with the comp pick they would receive if Wheeler rejected the offer and signed elsewhere.

19. People need to stop making luxury tax threshold excuses for the Mets for their building a team in 2020. Remember, that includes $15 million of David Wright‘s contract which is covered by insurance and has been settled by the Mets. Another $29.5 million is from Yoenis Cespedes who has part of his contract covered by insurance. Finally, $12 million of Jacob deGrom‘s $25 million is deferred. The Mets can and should go over the luxury tax threshold next year if they really want to compete.

20. Now that this series is over, the Mets play 20 straight games against teams with a losing record. After that, they have three against the Phillies, who currently hold the second Wild Card spot. If you have hopes the Mets can make a run, there it is.

20/20 Hindsight: Chairs Going Further Than The Mets

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, the Mets continue to embarrass themselves as an organization, and there is no one to answer for anything other than the manager:

1. Brodie Van Wagenen was real quick to put down Sandy Alderson in saying he was going to be more available to the media, and he was going to build a team with no ifs. Seeing how he is hiding in plain sight, and this team is a bigger disaster than any team Alderson, he should call up Alderson and apologize.

2. It should be noted former executives and players noted Van Wagenen’s behavior was completely unacceptable. Also unacceptable was how Van Wagenen ducked reporters on not just this question but any question. Instead, he would rather berate Mickey Callaway and send him to the wolves. This is the definition of callow.

3. Jay Bruce has as many homers against the Mets as Robinson Cano has for the Mets this season.

4. The reports Van Wagenen was angry over the team blowing a Jacob deGrom start just feeds into the narrative Van Wagenen took the job to help his clients.

5. The Callaway criticism among the fanbase is getting way over the top. It’s now at the point where they are criticizing him for being directed by the team’s video review official to challenge a play. That’s not a manager lacking feel. That’s a manager doing his job with the information on-hand. It’s also very doubtful if he passed on the challenging the call because he used his “game feel” the same fans killing him for it would give him credit.

6. Like with the media, Callaway is just a whipping boy. The fact he does this without throwing anyone under the bus is really remarkable. Even with the regrettable Healey outburst, he has shown himself to be the consummate professional. Even if you disagree, you should admit no one deserves to be treated the way he has been.

7. More than Callaway, Mets fans deserve better than this.

8. The state of umpiring in baseball is a joke. Rhys Hoskins was out at the plate, and yet, the umpires were perfectly content being wrong on a potentially game changing play. It’s beyond stupid that tag plays at the plate are not automatically up for independent review like touchdowns.

9. Pete Alonso is quickly becoming like Mike Piazza, Yoenis Cespedes, or Darryl Strawberry. You have to stop to watch when he bats. His homer off Aaron Nola ended the no-hitter, and in the rally later in the game, you were just waiting for that Jeff McNeil hit to get Alonso to the plate as the tying run. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

10. At least at the plate, Amed Rosario has been quite good for over two weeks now. Over the past 19 games, he his hitting .333/.361/.455 with five doubles, a homer, and six RBI. That’s real progress, and if he hits like this he has a spot on this team. Unfortunately, it is increasingly looking like that may not be short.

11. When looking at the trade with the Brewers, everything that has occurred has been reasonably foreseeable. The lone exception may be Edwin Diaz‘s struggles. However, there are indications it may be bone spur related, which was a known problems. So, overall, every disaster that has occurred was foreseeable.

12. A Future’s Game with Anthony Kay, Justin Dunn, and Jarred Kelenic could have been the high point of the season, especially with them being friendly with one another and talking about how much they love and respect Alonso. It was still great seeing Kay pitch a scoreless inning.

13. As if things weren’t bad enough, Jerry Manuel wore a Mets cap as he coached the World Team in the Future’s Game. The backstabbing self-interested walking soundbite sacrificing the team’s youth and potential wearing a Mets cap is just perfect.

14. Somehow, Jake Arrieta hit Todd Frazier and Rosario were hit by pitches, and it was Frazier and Callaway who were tossed from the game. You can say it was unintentional, but Arrieta did hit three in that game which doubled his season total. He also gave that psychopath press conference after the game saying he was going to dent Frazier’s skull.

15. The Mets aren’t going anywhere, and they were heading into the All-Star Break. How the team doesn’t put Michael Conforto on the IL with his stiff back and just give Juan Lagares more playing time in the hopes of creating some sort of a trade market is just plain incompetence.

16. Still no Jed Lowrie.

17. Mets are getting better than can be expected production from Alonso, McNeil, Frazier, Dominic Smith, and Tomas Nido, and they are 10 games under .500. That’s almost impossibly bad and a reflecting on a bad GM making impossibly bad decisions.

18.  Steven Matz in the bullpen didn’t exactly look good with him allowing three hits to the five batters he faced in his second game. Of course, you should probably ask yourself why a starter would work in back-to-back games. But that would assume the Mets have a rhyme or reason for what they do.

19. The “Sell The Team” chants need to be much more prevalent in the second half of the season. No, it’s not going to get them to spend or operate this team better. What is will do is embarrass the Wilpons who deserve all the embarrassment they’re due.

20. Alonso has the potential to become a superstar tonight with a big performance in the Home Run Derby. Let’s hope it happens.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Split Subway Affair

The Subway Series is over, and the big moments remaining in the Mets season appear to be over as well:

1. Mets fans who cheered Brodie Van Wagenen and chanted his name for attending a game he committed to attend deserve this season.

2. It’s funny, Mets fans will boo Robinson Cano when he’s 400 feet away, but they won’t when Van Wagenen is there.

3. It was sold as getting Zack Wheeler an extra start, and perhaps it was, but it’s certainly suspect Van Wagenen switched the pitchers so he wouldn’t have to sit out there for a Jason Vargas start.

4. On Vargas, the nonsense calling him an ace needs to stop. First, the Mets still have Jacob deGrom. Second, he’s failed to go five innings in 42.3% of his starts. Finally, he has just three quality starts in 14 starts (21.4%).

5. This is the time of the year Wheeler gets going. He limited the Yankees to two earned on one walk and five hits over 6.1 innings while striking out eight.

6. Over Wheeler’s last three starts, he has three quality starts and a 1.86 ERA. The team who gets him at the trade deadline is going to be very happy.

7. Wheeler was a bit snake bit by bad defense. J.D. Davis doesn’t have the range or instincts for LF as evidenced by balls dropping in front of him and his throwing to the wrong base. Also, Wilson Ramos has to look the runner back.

8. Honestly, no one could have predicted the Ramos signing going this poorly. Not only is he experiencing a power outage, but we also see deGrom and now Noah Syndergaard wanting to pitch to Tomas Nido.

9. While you couldn’t have imagined things going that poorly, many did say the Mets needed to go the extra mile for Yasmani Grandal, a catcher who just so happens to be the best in the game right now.

10. Seeing Gio Urshela make three great plays in the field, you’re reminded that defense actually matters. As Mark DeRosa pointed out it’s something the Mets have ignored for far too long.

11. Just like when they activated Yoenis Cespedes to DH last year, it was just predictable the team would activate all of their relievers before the Subway Series.

12. Wilmer Font getting knocked around a bit putting the game out of reach is a reminder the bullpen is/was an arm or two short even when everyone is healthy.

13. That arm can’t be Steven Matz. As previously noted, the Mets don’t have anywhere near the organizational depth or financial wherewithal to make him a reliever

14. All players have slumps, but some, like Michael Conforto, are treated more harshly by fans than others. Then, when he delivers a go-ahead double, everyone remembers how great he is.

15. There is way too much talent for the Mets to have the second worst record in the NL, but they do thanks to an incompetent GM who was cheered.

16. Say all you want about the Knicks whiffing on Durant and calling off a meeting with Kawhi. Dolan is still not a worse owner than the Wilpons. Not even close.

17. It’s going to be fun to see the Pete Alonso in the Home Run Derby.

18. Despite Adeiny Hechavarria batting just .223./.255/.394, the Mets still let Dilson Herrera opt out of his deal even if Herrera would’ve been a better bench and pinch hitting option.

19. Eduardo Perez‘s idea to have all MLB starters wear 45 on July 5th because that was the day Tyler Skaggs was supposed to pitch was an inspired one. Hopefully, MLB takes his suggestion.

20. Have a healthy and safe Fourth of July.