Today was one of those games where you can see how this Mets team could be really good next year.
Zack Wheeler has clearly turned a corner in his career as evidenced by yet another terrific start tonight.
Through seven innings, he limited the Padres to two earned on four hits and one walk despite striking out just three.
The damage could’ve been worse, but Devin Mesoraco made a heads up play to throw to third on what was an odd decision on replay:
.@Padres challenge call that Manuel Margot is out at home plate in the 3rd; call overturned, runner is safe.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) July 25, 2018
Unlike Jacob deGrom last night, Wheeler was rewarded for his good start because the team scored runs for him.
The driving force of the lineup was once again Michael Conforto, who has been great since the All Star Break.
In the game, Conforto was 2-for-4 with two runs, a homer, and two RBI.
Awesome home run. Very, very sublime. pic.twitter.com/jiQVYjfs8H
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 25, 2018
The first run he scored was in the first. He hit a ball hard to the opposite field. Third baseman Christian Villanueva dove to knock it down, but he had no play on Conforto. Conforto would then score on the ensuing Mesoraco three RBI double.
The first runner who crossed the plate on that double was surprise leadoff hitter Amed Rosario.
Rosario has been slowly improving of late, and tonight was another step in the right direction. Not only did he draw a first inning leadoff walk against Padres starter Eric Lauer, but in his next at-bat, he would hit a triple.
Asdrubal Cabrera brought him home with an RBI single giving the Mets a 6-2 lead.
Even with Wheeler dealing, Conforto mashing, and Rosario setting the table, perhaps the biggest news was Jeff McNeil.
McNeil would finally make his MLB debut in the eighth. He pinch hit for Evans, and he hit the first pitch he saw for a single.
Despite the Mets assertions to the contrary, McNeil stayed in the game to play third where he would catch a pop out to record the final out of the Mets 6-3 win.
So yes, while this has been a dreadful season, the Mets do have the pieces to be a good team next year. We saw a glimpse of that tonight.
Game Notes: Seth Lugo allowed one run over the final two innings to preserve the win. The Mets still have made no GM or owner available to answer questions about Cespedes injury or second opinion. Instead, they let Mickey Callaway answer questions about it in the post-game.
Heading into this year’s Yankee Stadium portion of the Subway Series, the Mets had a decided advantage in starting pitching. Yesterday, that led to a win with Noah Syndergaard on the mound.
Up until that point, the Mets had a 1-0 lead due to a Michael Conforto second inning homer. That lead completely evaporated in the bottom of the fourth.
It started innocuously enough with a Giancarlo Stanton leadoff single. Then with one out in the inning, Matt den Dekker would make a number of defensive miscues starting with the Didi Gregorious RBI “triple.”
Throughout that fourth, Matz would make his pitches, but his team, specifically den Dekker, wasn’t making a play behind him. All told, it was a four run inning for the Yankees.
With two outs in the inning, Amed Rosario hit an RBI single that not only brought Conforto home, but it allowed Bautista to go to third. It mattered because Robertson threw away a pickoff attempt allowing Bautista to score. The rally would end there as den Dekker struck out.
The Mets would quickly see the 4-3 deficit grow and grow.
It’s hard to say Matz pitched well considering he surrendered five runs, all earned, but he did. The defense was that poor.
In the ninth, it seemed like Aroldis Chapman was in to pitch his inning and let everyone get home before the rain came later tonight. The issue with Chapman was he couldn’t get an out.
Now, it should be noted Asdrubal Cabrera should have been due up. The problem was he was ejected in the fifth after getting tossed arguing balls and strikes. When that happened, he joined hitting coach Pat Roessler who was tossed in the third for the same issue.
Cabrera was replaced in the lineup by Devin Mesoraco (as a DH). He’d face Chasen Shreve who came on for Chapman, get the most important at-bat of the game, and he’d hit into a rally killing 4-6-3 double play.
With that, the Mets did just enough to lose. Just enough.
Game Notes: Jeurys Familia was finally traded to the Athletics. Yoenis Cespedes was unavailable as he was too sore to play. As it turns out, he also needs surgery to remove calcifications in both heels. The recovery time is approximately 10 months.
With the New York Mets sending Dominic Smith down in a series of transactions designed to make room on the Major League roster for both Yoenis Cespedes and Jason Vargas to return from the disabled list, the Mets will have both Smith and Peter Alonso on the same roster.
This could not have happened at a worse time for either player.
When Smith was called up to the majors, he had not exactly earned his way onto the roster hitting just .260/.343/.370 in 56 games. Unfortunately, things did not improve for him when he was called up to the majors. He would play sparingly, and when he did play he didn’t hit. Overall, he has a -1.1 WAR while hitting .183/.216/.324.
With Smith struggling and Alonso dominating in Double-A, it seemed as if Alonso had easily surpassed Smith as the Mets first baseman of the future. With every homer, it seemed like that future was going to happen at some point this season.
Things changed for Alonso when he was called-up to Triple-A. In 27 games, he is hitting .178/.306/.426 with a 30.1 percent strikeout rate. One thing that has been encouraging is Alonso has not regressed in terms of his newfound plate discipline. Despite his struggles, he has maintained a solid 12.4 percent walk rate.
With both players struggling, Tony DeFrancesco not only has to find a way to get both players back on track, but he also has to find a way to find playing time for both players.
Seemingly, the playing time is the easier of the two issues. With Smith getting up to speed in left field, and the Mets having no prospect of note in the outfield, it would at least seem he could play there everyday. Another consideration is Las Vegas will have the DH available to permit the team to shift both prospects between first base and DH.
The dilemma there is Smith is by far the better defensive first baseman of the two. From that standpoint, Smith should be the everyday first baseman with Alonso at DH.
However, this is the minor leagues where organizations put an emphasis on player development over winning. To that end, Alonso needs the reps at first base much more than Smith does.
To that end, it should come as no surprise John Ricco says Alonso will get most of the reps at first with Smith mostly playing the outfield.
This is really where DeFrancesco is going to have to earn his money. Somehow, some way, he has to help both players improve, have them not just retain but improve their value, and he is going to have to make each player feel as if the organization is invested in them. That’s much easier said than done, especially when the organization is having Smith play out of position to accommodate Alonso.
Further complicating everything is Cespedes interest in possibly making a position change to first base in order to help keep his legs healthy to stay in the lineup. Given his being owed $58 million over the next two seasons, Jay Bruce being owed $28 million over the next two seasons, and the emergence of Brandon Nimmo was an All Star caliber player, it’s very possible the Mets give Cespedes every opportunity to become the Mets first baseman next year.
With that being the case, Smith and Alonso are not only in a position where they have to distinguish themselves from one another, they are also going to have to distinguish themselves to the point where the club is willing to give these two talented young players a job at first base over more established and far better paid players.
Believe it or not, even with their recent struggles both Smith and Alonso possess the talent to force the issue with the Mets organization. If we get to the point where Smith and Alonso are forcing the issue, the Mets will be in a very good position.
Brandon Nimmo led off the game with a walk against Yankee starter Domingo German. After that leadoff walk, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Conforto, and third baseman Jose Bautista hit RBI doubles giving the Mets a quick 3-0 lead.
That lead would grow to 4-0 when Cespedes had a Yankee Stadium special ding off the foul pole:
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 21, 2018
That 4-0 lead was good for Syndergaard who had another five inning effort where he could not get that 1-2-3 inning.
Fortunately, Syndergaard, who was popping off at the mouth before the game, was able to navigate through the jams effectively. The only damage against him was a Giancarlo Stanton third inning sacrifice fly.
In the fifth, Cespedes led off the inning with a walk, advance to second on a Wilmer Flores one out walk, and he’d score on a Conforto RBI single.
Bautista walked to load the bases, and they’d come away with just one more run. With the Mets having a 6-1 lead, you knew it was a tight margin for the Mets pen.
Amed Rosario didn’t help matters playing poor defense and going 0-4 at the plate.
With that, the Mets carried a 6-5 lead into the ninth. With the team producing a run with Cabrera getting on, Flores going the opposite way to get him over, and a Conforto sacrifice fly would get him in.
Game Notes: Conforto had a terrific night going 2-4 with a run, double, and three RBI. Bautista has a nice barehanded play. Bautista started at third over Jose Reyes.
The Mets Fan
How You Became a Mets Fan
I became a Mets fan just through generations. My grandfather was a Dodgers fan until they moved, and he picked up the Mets in 1962.
Favorite Mets Player
My favorite Mets player is Yoenis Cespedes.
Favorite Moment in Mets History
My favorite Mets moment in history is the sweep of the Nationals in D.C. in late September.
Message to Mets Fans
Be patient. It’ll come. Just have faith. Players will get healthy, and the lower level of the farm is stacked with arms and just added another good bat through the draft. The systems better than were told by the national media, and it’ll only get better
With the way things are going with the New York Mets, it is becoming increasingly clear this team will be in position to sell at the trade deadline. The question is what in the world do the Mets have to sell.
Well, the biggest asset the Mets have right now is Jacob deGrom. If he was ever truly available, you would have 29 teams lining up to give you their best prospects. The problem with that is, you could assume the Mets will not deal with either the Yankees or the Nationals. With the Yankees, you are taking one deep farm system off the table, and that is assuming the Yankees would part with their top prospects in a trade with the Mets.
Overall, based on recent comments from Sandy Alderson, it does not appear the Mets are trading deGrom anytime soon, which is a relief because Sandy really does poor work at the trade deadline. He’s much better working deals in the offseason.
So when looking at players to trade, you obviously begin with guys on the last year of their deals. Well, the Mets don’t have much to offer there:
Jerry Blevins – the LOOGY has a 5.28 ERA, 1.761 WHIP, and a 6.5 BB/9. Worse than that, left-handed batters are hitting .351/.415/.514 off of him.
Jose Bautista – When he was released, the Mets were seemingly the only team who called him, and it’s hard to imagine teams giving up much for a second division bench player with a .366 SLG.
Asdrubal Cabrera – A year after the Mets found no takers for him, they may be in the same position after having him play through injuries. Since April 24th, he’s hitting .233/.269/.423 while playing the worst defensive second base in the majors (-10 DRS).
Jeurys Familia – If he returns from the DL healthy, Familia has real value because he has once again shown himself to be a good reliever and closer. The issue with him is Sandy Alderson flipped Addison Reed, who was healthier and having a better year, for an uninspiring group of Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, and Stephen Nogosek.
Devin Mesoraco – Briefly, Mesoraco was a revelation showing power and helping buttress a struggling Mets lineup. The hot streak has worn off, and he’s hitting .107 with no extra base hits over his last nine games.
AJ Ramos – Ramos is contemplating season ending shoulder surgery. That would take him off the table. The same can be said for his 6.41 ERA.
Jose Reyes – He’s the worst player in all of baseball this year; one the Mets are reportedly asking to retire.
Alright, so the Mets don’t have much in terms of players on expiring deals. Maybe, the team can look at players whose deals are expiring after the 2019 season:
Todd Frazier – The normally durable Frazier landed on the DL, and he has not been the power hitter he has been in his career. The positives are he’s kept a solid walk rate while playing a solid third base. Overall, he’s the type of player who is of more value to you than to what you would get back in a deal.
Jason Vargas – He’s now a five inning pitcher with a 7.39 ERA.
Zack Wheeler – Wheeler is an interesting case because he has shown promise, but he is still prone to the occasional hiccups. He’s probably not due for a large arbitration increase from his $1.8 million, which should be enticing for a Mets team who probably doesn’t want to spend $8 million to replace him with next year’s Vargas.
So, right now, looking at the expiring deals by the end of the 2019 season, the Mets assets basically amount to Familia and maybe Frazier and Wheeler. Arguably, Frazier and Wheeler are not bringing back the type of players who would be key pieces of a rebuild. To that extent, you at least have to question why you would move them on a Mets team with a fairly solid core which includes Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Noah Syndergaard, and deGrom.
And really, past that group, there isn’t much else available for the Mets to trade to justify blowing it up.
Jay Bruce is injured, and he already looks like he’s in a group with Jason Bay and Vince Coleman for the worst free agent mistake in Mets history. Yoenis Cespedes is both injury prone and has a no trade deal, which will likely limit their ability to move him.
Really, what the Mets need to be doing is some soul searching.
Much like they did when they extended David Wright, the team needs to assess whether players like deGrom and Syndergaard will be here when promising young players like Andres Gimenez, David Peterson, Justin Dunn, Mark Vientos, and Jarred Kelenic are here to open the Mets next World Series window.
If they’re not, you’re doing the franchise a complete disservice by hanging in this if everything breaks right structure. Really, things only broke right in 2015, and the team has been ill designed every since.
Blow it up now, or start spending money on players like Manny Machado this offseaosn. If you’re not doing that, this Mets team isn’t going anywhere for at least the next decade.
The Mets Fan
I’m Phil Kerpen, a DC political/policy guy, and I tweet about that and Mets stuff which is kind of a weird mix but some people seem to like it.
I grew up in Brooklyn, but I’ve been in Washington for almost 20 years now. I’ve got four kids and the oldest is six so our house is a pretty busy, but I still try to watch most of the Mets games MLB TV is so great. I still remember listening to strained WFAN signals but these days being a fan in a different city is pretty easy. The first few years after the Expos moved here were pretty great — I got to see the Mets in person for nine games a year, and Mets fans pretty much dominated the sparse crowds at RFK. It’s different now as the Nationals have developed a fan base, but there’s always still a decent Mets contingent here.
How You Became a Mets Fan
I was born in ’79 and started paying attention to baseball in ’85. My brother is a couple years older, and we started collecting baseball cards, watching games, etc. We got an exemption from bedtime for the ’86 World Series, and I’ve been pretty much hooked ever since — although I’ve tried to quit a few times!\n
Favorite Mets Player
Dwight Gooden was my guy as a kid (my brother was a massive Darryl Strawberry fan), so I guess I’d go with him. For a long time, my automatic answer would have been Todd Hundley, but after the Mitchell Report, he’s disqualified. Yoenis Cespedes is my favorite current Met. Hope he brings back his custom walk-up song “The Power” this year — it’s the best.
Favorite Moment in Mets History
Can’t top “Little roller up along first,” but the other big one for me personally was the Dave Mlicki shutout at Yankee Stadium in 97. It was about a month after my 18th birthday, and I went with my little brother. Nonstop trash talk with the Yankees fans, and Mlicki was in and out of trouble every inning but somehow managed to pull it off.
Message to Mets Fans
This team is hot garbage.
If you looked at the Mets lineup today, it looked like the lineup you put together when you’re: (1) grasping at straws; (2) overthinking things; or (3) trying to do something different for its own sake:
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 9, 2018
As bizarre as the lineup looked, it worked . . . at least in the first.
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 10, 2018
From there, the Mets offense reverted back to itself throwing away golden opportunities. That gave Steven Matz a decent lead, but not a big one against a dangerous Yankee lineup.
For a while, Matz kept the Yankees at bay. He did what he needed to do to stymie rallies including picking off Aaron Hicks in the first.
Despite Matz pitching well, it didn’t stop Gleyber Torres from hitting a third inning homer to pull the Yankees to within 3-1.
In the sixth, Matz got himself into trouble by walking Gary Sanchez on five pitches, and then he hung a curve to Miguel Andujar. Suddenly, it’s a tie game, and you’re once again wondering just how the Mets are going to score.
Really, from the Cabrera homer through the sixth, the Mets offense did little. Then, against David Robertson, Adrian Gonzalez led off the inning with an opposite field double down the third base line.
Guillorme struck out against a reliever who had reverse splits.
In quite fitting fashion, this game ended with Jose Reyes flying out to end the game. Really, on a night where the Mets had no real bench to rely upon, it made sense there was no better option than Reyes, who we all knew would fail.
Game Notes: Cabrera was ejected an inning after he struck out looking for barking from the dugout. Yoenis Cespedes was pulled from his rehab start.
In a scathing article from David Lennon of Newsday set to take Mickey Callaway to task for the Mets recent poor play ultimately concluding that under Callaway’s 57 game tenure as a manager, the Mets are, “A lot of talk, accomplishing nothing.”
Really, it was full of quick barbs and cheap shots like this gem:
So after two more losses, one lousy run scored in the last 24 innings and a pair of Little League-quality blunders in Sunday’s sweep-completing 2-0 loss to the Cubs, we’re wondering what Mickey Callaway has planned next for the Mets.
A how-to seminar on the basics of baseball? A weeklong retreat to restore all of this depleted self-esteem? Maybe a clubhouse visit by Tony Robbins?
This is just emblematic of how Callaway, who is in a no-win situation is now fair game for mocking, ridicule, and blame. What is interesting is these downright insults really overlook what Callaway has accomplished in his brief tenure.
Jacob deGrom has gone to a level we had never seen him pitch. For a Mets organization who looked at Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as enigmas, Callaway has helped turn them into terrific relievers. Speaking of enigmas, the Mets have recently seen Zach Wheeler and Steven Matz turn a corner. It that holds true this rotation will be every bit as formidable as we all hoped it would be.
Offensively, Brandon Nimmo has gone from fourth outfielder to a terrific lead0ff hitter who leads all National League outfielders in OBP and OPS. Amed Rosario has been making continued strides. After beginning his career hitting .245/.275/.371 with a 27.6% strikeout rate, since May 1st, Rosario is an improved .274/.291/.415 with a 16.4% strikeout rate. It may not seem like much, but it’s a stark improvement.
We have also seen the Mets go dumpster diving for players like Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and Devin Mesoraco. Somehow, these players have been much improved with the Mets than their prior stops, and they have salvaged their MLB careers.
The obvious question from here is if all this is true than why are the Mets 27-30 and in fourth place after such a terrific start?
Much of that answer, i.e. the blame, is attributable to the Mets front office.
Despite time and again facing the same injury issues over and over again, the team AGAIN mishandled a Yoenis Cespedes leg injury, and they are having Jay Bruce and Asdrubal Cabrera play poorly through their own injuries. What’s hysterical about this is Sandy Alderson actually utter the words, “Honestly, sometimes I think we’re a little too cautious with how we approach injuries.”
He’s also made a number of blunders with the in-season managing of this roster.
Consider this. After short start, the Mets designated P.J. Conlon in a series of roster moves to help bring up three fresh arms including Scott Copeland. After Copeland pitched 1.1 scoreless in his only appearance, the Mets called up Jose Lobaton and his -0.6 WAR for the intended purpose of allowing Kevin Plawecki and his .198/.282/.288 split against left-handed pitchers at first base to face Mike Montgomery.
Meanwhile, a Mets organization loses Conlon as the Dodgers claimed him, and a Mets organization who has been wringing their hands to find a second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, looked on as Buddy Baumann get lit up for four runs on three hits and two walks in the 14th inning of a game the Cubs had not scored a run in over three hours.
The front office’s decision making gets worse and worse the more you look at it.
For some reason, they insist on keeping Jose Reyes on the roster. This, coupled with the aforementioned Gonzalez and Bautista signings, is emblematic of an organization more willing to trust in done veterans reclaiming their past glory than giving a young player like Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Peter Alonso, or even Gavin Cecchini (before his injury) a chance.
This was one of the reasons why the Mets signed Bruce to a three year deal this offseason. No, this was not insurance against Michael Conforto‘s shoulder. Three year $39 million deals are not that. Rather, this signing showed: (1) the Mets wanted a Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce outfield for the next three years; and (2) the team did not have any faith Nimmo could handle playing everyday at the MLB level on even a limited basis.
Now, the Mets what looks to be an injured $39 million albatross in right, who doesn’t even know to call off a back peddling second baseman with a runner on third.
That’s bad defense, which is something the Mets actively welcome with all of their personnel decisions. Really, the team has spent the past few seasons looking to plug non-center fielders in center while playing players out of position all across the infield.
Despite what the Lennon’s of the world will tell us, the poor defense and lack of basic fundamentals isn’t Callaway’s doing. No, it is the result of an organizational philosophy.
The Bruce signing has such short and long term implications. With his salary, will the Mets bench him instead of Nimmo or Gonzalez when Cespedes comes back healthy. Will the organization let his salaries in future years block Alonso or Dominic Smith at first base? Mostly, will his escalating salaries be another excuse why the team rolls the dice and gives a player like Jason Vargas $8 million instead of just going out and signing the player who really fills a need?
Sure, there are plenty of reasons to attack Callaway. His bullpen management has been suspect at times. Lately, he’s been managing more out of fear than attacking the game to try to get the win. Really, this is part of a learning curve for a first time manager in a new league.
It’s a learning curve that could have been helped by a long time veteran National League manager. Instead, Sandy Alderson thought it best to hire a Gary Disarcina to be the bench coach because who better to help a young first time manager in a new league than a player who has spent his entire playing, front office, and minor league managerial career in the American League?
Really, that’s just one of several examples of how Alderson has set up both Callaway and this entire Mets team to fail in 2018.
After his epic run at the end of the 2015 season, it is understandable how many view Yoenis Cespedes as the driving force of this Mets team. However, if you look at the past few seasons, the person who has really been at the forefront of the Mets peaks and valleys has been Asdrubal Cabrera.
Looking over the past few seasons, Cabrera never really did get the credit Cespedes received for his propelling the Mets to the postseason in 2016. Consider from August 19th until the end of the 2016 season, he hit .345/.406/.635 with 11 doubles, a triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI. Really, looking at that decimated team who was looking for an everyday second baseman at they entered September, it was Cabrera who carried that team to the postseason.
As the 2018 season began, it was once again Cabrera who was the driving force of this Mets team.
In April, Cabrera hit .340/.393/.580 with nine doubles, five homers, and 17 RBI. For a Mets team who was in first place, Cabrera was in the all too early conversation for National League MVP.
That’s not a stretch either as Cabrera’s hot bat masked much of what was wrong with the Mets. The Mets were winning despite Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard being the only Mets starters who would give the team credible starts. Amed Rosario was struggling along with Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and countless other Mets. The teams two catchers, Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki went down with injuries, and they were replaced by an underwhelming duo of Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido.
Through all of it, Cabrera got big hit after big hit after big hit, and the Mets were 17-9, and they led the Braves by 1.5 games in the National League East, and they lead the Nationals by 4.5 games.
Since that time, we have seen Cabrera get nicked up on more than one occasion, have seen his play fall off of a cliff, and we have seen the Mets go 10-21 while plummeting to fourth in the standings.
Since May 1st, Cabrera is hitting .252/.282/.445 with six doubles, a triple, five homers, and 17 RBI. These are more befitting a hitter towards the end of the lineup than the second place hitter Cabrera has been for this team.
Cabrera isn’t just struggling at the plate. He’s struggling mightily in the field as well. In fact, with a -11 DRS, Cabrera is the worst defensive second baseman in all of baseball. Expanding the worldview a bit more, Cabrera’s -11 DRS ranks worst among all Major League infielders.
Simply put, Cabrera is not hitting or fielding right now. In a season where the was the driving force who bailed the Mets out of a number of situations, he has become one of the many liabilities on this team.
No, the current state of the Mets cannot be pinned on Cabrera. There are far more issues than his recent play. However, when he struggles like this, with Cespedes on the disabled list, and Michael Conforto still trying to get back to form, you no longer have a bat in the lineup who can carry this Mets team and help mask some of those other issues.