As the season wound to a close, there was much talk about how the Mets were too talented for this season to have unfolded the way it did. Certainly, some players struggled, but in the end, the Mets missing even an expanded postseason should not have shocked anyone.
Things changed dramatically for the Mets the day Noah Syndergaard had to shut it down due to Tommy John surgery. It was at that point the Mets went from possible postseason contender to a team who was likely going to miss the postseason.
Syndergaard presented, along with Jacob deGrom, two top of the rotation, swing and miss pitchers. The Mets desperately needed this as this was a team with far too many pitchers who pitched to contact in front of a terrible defensive team.
In 2019, the Mets were last in the National League with an 86 DRS. Despite planning on going into 2020 with Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello, two pitchers who pitch to a high rate of contact, the Mets affirmatively opted not to improve their defense. In actuality, they probably made t worse.
Remember, the plan was to always have two first basemen in the field with Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis. Based on what we saw of Robinson Cano in 2019, you could’ve argued, the Mets were really putting three first basemen in the field. That’s beyond ill advised.
An important thing to remember here was not only were the Mets playing three first basemen, they were playing three poor ones at that, at least in terms of their respective positions.
By OAA, Alonso was the worst defensive first baseman in the NL last year. Davis was the 26th ranked LF with the second worst success rate. Cano was also ranked 26th.
The good news is Cano rebounded by OAA but not DRS. Past him, well, it was a complete disaster.
Davis didn’t last long in LF because he was even worse, which you could not imagine to be possible. He then moved to third where he was again an unmitigated disaster. That was a precipitous drop from the good, albeit declining defense, provided from Todd Frazier last year.
Alonso too regressed leading him to lose his everyday job at first. Instead, he split time with Dominic Smith at the position. When Dom wasn’t at first, he was in left. That meant the Mets had FOUR first basemen in the field.
You can’t win games that way.
What makes this even worse is the Mets didn’t really surround these players with plus defenders to offset the terrible defense.
Brandon Nimmo isn’t a center fielder. That was again proven by his -4 OAA and -5 DRS. Wilson Ramos was just about the worst catcher there was in baseball behind the plate. His framing numbers were poor, his ability to block the ball worse, and his ability to tag out runners nonexistent.
Essentially, that made the pitchers mound look more like a tiny island with a bunch of people around him just letting him drown.
Really, when you look at the Mets, the only position they had good defense was short with Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario providing very good defense there. Other than that this was a terrible defensive ballclub with the fourth worst DRS in all of baseball.
The sad thing is it didn’t have to be this way. There were very good defenders on this roster who earned playing time. Case in point was Luis Guillorme. He had a very good defensive season with a 1 OAA and DRS, and he posted a 144 wRC+ at the plate. Playing him up the middle with Gimenez or Rosario could’ve had a profound impact on this suspect pitching staff.
On that note, Porcello struggled with terrible defense behind him. Stroman opting out certainly hurt, but he also might’ve struggled in front of a flat out terrible defensive team.
Truth be told, the only way this team could’ve competed was by having a starting staff of swing and miss pitchers who induced soft contact. Unfortunately, Syndergaard was injured, and the Mets didn’t want Zack Wheeler. Once the latter two were gone so were the Mets chances.
In the end, Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon treated the Mets like they were a fantasy team. With the Mets having an MLB best team 122 wRC+, they probably won their fantasy league.
However, on the field, where things like defense and base running matter, they built a flawed and arguably bad baseball team. Certainly, this was not a team truly built to compete, and in the end the Mets didn’t.
That’s why Van Wagenen will be gone and why Steve Cohen has zero interest in keeping Jeff Wilpon around in any decision making capacity when the sale is officially ratified by MLB.
Overall, the 2020 New York Mets didn’t underachieve. No, this team did EXACTLY what they were built to do. That was have deGrom be great, the offense hit, and get horrendous defense and suspect starting pitching.
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.
The New York Mets had an opportunity to make some headway in the postseason race with a four game series against the Phillies. They had their chance, but instead, they could only muster a split.
1. Jacob deGrom AGAIN established he’s the best pitcher in baseball by striking out 12 Phillies over seven.
2. deGrom and Zack Wheeler would’ve been the best 1-2 punch in baseball, but unfortunately, Brodie Van Wagenen is a terrible GM.
3. If the Mets had the starting pitching, they’d easily be the top team in the division. It’s weird saying that knowing where the Mets have been, and downright hilarious considering Van Wagenen’s preseason declarations.
4. As we continue to see, Seth Lugo can start. That wasn’t really the issue. The issue always was who takes over his role. The answer so far is nobody.
7. Obtaining Todd Frazier made sense because he gave the Mets the third baseman they didn’t have, and apparently, he was a great presence for this Mets team.
8. The Mets didn’t obtain Frazier for his bat, but maybe they should’ve because Pete Alonso started hitting again using Frazier’s bats.
9. Speaking of hitting again, it’s nice to see Jeff McNeil raking again.
10. Game-in, game-out, Michael Conforto proves the Mets need to extend him.
11. Somehow, someway, Dominic Smith has emerged as the Mets best hitter so far this year, and he’s leading the league in doubles. He wasn’t given an opportunity. He forced it.
12. Luis Guillorme is batting .395, and he plays good to great defense at three different positions. His not being able to crack this starting lineup is another example of why Van Wagenen has to go.
13. J.D. Davis has proven he can’t play in the field. Without the juiced ball, his GB rate is climbing back up to career norms, and his BABIP is dropping. In total, he’s regressing to the mean. Insisting on playing him everyday is holding this team back.
14. The rally yesterday was great, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot when you see the Mets lose in extras.
15. Right now, the only Mets reliever you might be able to trust is Brad Brach, who has been having a very good year. You’d like to see him more, but that may not be possible when his dealing with the after effects of COVID19.
17. The Tom Seaver patch is nice, but it’s perfunctory. It seems Mets fans want more with renaming Citi Field in his honor as a popular one. Personally, I’d like to see the dirt patch be permanent, and/or a 41 permanently on the pitching rubber at Citi Field.
18. It’s funny to think the Toronto Blue Jays are currently the best team in New York. One of the reasons why is Anthony Kay who has a 176 ERA+. The Mets sure could’ve used him this year.
19. We’re counting down the days until the Wilpons are gone. Hopefully, Van Wagenen, who turned a great core and minor league depth into a team four games under .500 f outside looking in on an expanded postseason, follows them out the door.
20. Despite everything, the Mets are just two games out of a postseason spot (five in the loss column). They’re better than the Marlins, Giants, Rockies, and Brewers (or should be). There’s still a chance.
When Brodie Van Wagenen took over as GM, the Mets organization had an embarrassment of starting pitching depth. He was gifted a starting rotation which had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz.
Now, the Mets rotation this week was literally posted as deGrom followed by a bunch of TBAs. The reason? The starting pitching depth is gone. Kaput!
For some reason, Van Wagenen thought the old adage you could never have enough pitching didn’t apply to him. For some reason, he actually thought he improved the Mets rotation and depth with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.
Someone will undoubtedly argue the Mets pitching staff suffered a number of injuries, and Marcus Stroman opted out. But that completely misses the point. That’s exactly why you need quality depth. That quality depth is long gone.
Now, at the trade deadline, Van Wagenen could’ve looked at this and pursued another starter. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. What we do know is not only did he not obtain a starting pitcher, but he would also get rid of one.
Van Wagenen traded Kevin Smith for Baltimore Orioles reliever Miguel Castro. He traded a promising left-handed starting pitcher who continues to improve and defy scouting reports for a reliever with a career 4.94 FIP and 1.409 WHIP.
Yes, Castro is talented reliever for sure, but his skills have yet to translate to tangible Major League success. This is the guy you take a flier on in the offseason. He’s not the player you overpay to get as your big time late inning reliever to help get your over the hump. Castro has not been and is not that guy.
As for Smith, he’s the latest starting pitching prospect Van Wagenen needlessly traded away for pennies on the dollar. Van Wagenen explained it away like Smith was a future fifth starter. That’s not too different from how he was dismissive of Dunn’s and Kay’s abilities before being shown how embarrassingly wrong he was.
In what should hopefully be Van Wagenen’s last trade deadline, he traded away his fourth starting pitching prospect. You could form what would’ve been a good Major League rotation with what Van Wagenen traded.
Instead, the Mets will gave zero starting pitching depth and next to nothing in return for all of these trades.
Upon taking over the Mets job, Brodie Van Wagenen has traded prospect after prospect in an attempt to win-now. Last year, the Mets fell short. This year, the Mets are under .500 and are currently on the outside looking in on an expanded postseason.
On that front, his trades have not planned out. Another way to analyze it is to see how the players he traded are faring:
Justin Dunn (-0.2 WAR) 1-0, 5.57 ERA, 1.381 WHIP, 6.4 K/9
Anthony Kay (0.5 WAR) 2-0, 3.14 ERA, 1.256 WHIP, 7.5 K/9
Blake Taylor (0.8 WAR) 1-0, 1.38 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 9.0 K/9
Combined this trio of pitchers have accumulated a 1.1 WAR. Due to their absence and Van Wagenen letting players like Zack Wheeler walk, he’s had to replace them with these players:
Walker Lockett (-0.1 WAR) 0-0, 7.50 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 7.5 K/9
Rick Porcello (0.0 WAR) 1-3, 5.76 ERA, 1.640 WHIP, 7.6 K/9
Michael Wacha (-0.1 WAR) 1-2, 6.43 ERA, 1.643 WHIP, 11.6 K/9
Through his series of moves, Van Wagenen replaced 1.1 WAR with -0.2 WAR. That’s before you take into account Wheeler’s 1.6 WAR this year.
First and foremost, Van Wagenen traded away the depth which would’ve helped the Mets withstand those injuries. Furthermore, he was the one who opted to allocate money which could’ve gone to Wheeler with other assets. There’s also the fact the Robinson Cano trade hamstrung the Wilpons financially, or at least that’s what we’re led to believe.
What makes this all the more befuddling is Van Wagenen purportedly opted for this path for the sake of depth. If you follow the timeline, he purged depth, then quality, and then signed replacement level pitchers for the sake of saying the Mets had depth.
Overall, the Mets could’ve had a great pitching staff in 2020. Sandy Alderson has left behind great depth on that front. Instead, Van Wagenen pilfered it for short-sighted ineffective trades. Now, that pitching depth is gone. With the sale of the Mets, he may be gone as well.
For all his bravado, Brodie Van Wagenen has not only stripped the farm system down, but he did it while impinging the Major League roster’s ability to compete for a World Series. To put it in perspective, let’s just look at what the Mets roster would look like right now if Van Wagenen only kept the Mets players in the organization had he not taken the job, or, if he did nothing.
Some caveats here. This assumes free agents were re-signed. Without the Robinson Cano deal, that would’ve been possible. Also, it assumes the same players who are injured for the season would remain injured. Finally, this will eliminate those players not on active 28 man rosters. With that in mind, here’s what the 2020 Mets would’ve looked like.
2B Jeff McNeil
3B Todd Frazier
SS Amed Rosario
CF Juan Lagares
DH Pete Alonso
INF Wilmer Flores
1B/OF Jay Bruce
INF Luis Guillorme
RHP Jacob deGrom
RHP Zack Wheeler
LHP Steven Matz
LHP Anthony Kay
LHP David Peterson
RHP Seth Lugo
RHP Rafael Montero
RHP Justin Dunn
RHP Robert Gsellman
RHP Drew Smith
LHP Blake Taylor
RHP Bobby Wahl
LHP Daniel Zamora
RHP Paul Sewald
RHP Franklyn Kilome
Looking at the team overall, the starting pitching is vastly superior as is the team defense. The bullpen may not be as deep, but they certainly have the arms.
Overall, this non-Van Wagenen impacted roster would’ve certainly been better than the 9-14 team his Mets roster is. This just goes to show you how bad of a GM Van Wagenen is.
He’s made the Mets worse in 2020, and he’s made the Mets future less promising. You could not have done a worse job than Van Wagenen has done.
The Mets went into Philadelphia with a chance to make a statement. On the bright side, they made that statement. On the downside, it wasn’t the statement we wanted them to make.
1. This series only further cemented Brodie Van Wagenen as the worst GM in baseball.
3. Remember when Van Wagenen said the Mets had the deepest rotation in baseball? With Jacob deGrom dealing with a neck injury, Porcello and his 5.76 is now the Mets staff ace.
5. Steven Matz had three good enough starts to begin the season before pitching terribly in his last three starts. Fortunately for him, the Mets don’t have other options to replace him in the rotation.
6. It’s easy to point fingers at Jeremy Hefner but even a pitching coach with a magic lamp would still be stuck with two incapable starters.
7. On the topic of Van Wagenen’s incompetence, Wilson Ramos has been beyond terrible this year. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, he completely whiffed on a tag allowing the game winning run to score.
8. Van Wagenen preached accountability and media access when he took the job. The Mets made Ramos unavailable after that lame tag attempt, and the Mets made every player who would rebut their fabricated version of events when Yoenis Cespedes opted out.
9. There’s a lot wrong with the Mets, but Luis Rojas isn’t one of them. The Mets are not losing games because of him. They’re losing because the GM is horrendous.
10. Knowing that and seeing all that has transpired since, everyone owes Mickey Callaway an apology for how he was maligned.
12. Way too much was made of Drew Smith being optioned. The Mets bullpen has depth at the MLB level, and there were legitimate options in Brooklyn.
13. No, Smith didn’t deserve to be optioned as he pitched well, and yes, Brian Dozier had been terrible, but the Mets have nothing in reserve on terms of MLB caliber hitters.
14. Speaking of the Brooklyn site, the Mets added Francisco Alvarez and Matthew Allan which means they can now be traded.
15. We should be afraid they’ll be traded for pennies on the dollar with that being the defining characteristic of Van Wagenen’s tenure.
16. On the bright side, Van Wagenen is getting exposed, and the Wilpons will sell the team without winning a World Series as majority owners.
17. Mets fans deserve better. Hopefully, we’ll get that instead of getting Alex Rodriguez.
18. The St. Louis Cardinals have played eight games. The Miami Marlins are playing catch-up and have only played 15 games. The Cincinnati Reds aren’t playing games. Naturally, MLB’s response is to loosen COVID19 return to play restrictions.
19. Good for the Cleveland Indians for optioning Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger to the alternate site after breaking COVID19 protocols. It’s good to see someone in baseball take this pandemic seriously.
20. It’s the centennial of the Negro Leagues, and MLB did not do nearly enough to honor it. That goes double in a year where COVID19 prevented them from honoring Jackie Robinson. Shame on MLB.
When Zack Wheeler signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, after asking the Mets to make an offer and not receiving one in return, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said, “Our health and performance department, our coaches all contributed and helped him parlay two good half-seasons over the last five years into $118 million.”
Put another way, Brodie didn’t think Wheeler was worth the money he received from the Phillies. Today, Wheeler beat the Mets after allowing two earned over seven while walking one and striking out four.
The losing pitcher? Well, that was Rick Porcello, the same guy who took over Wheeler’s spot in the rotation. Porcello took the loss after allowing four earned over six.
The loss dropped Porcello to 1-3 with a 5.76 ERA. The win improved Wheeler to 3-0 with a 2.86 ERA.
To be fair the disparity in the salaries allowed the Mets to also sign Michael Wacha. So far this year, Wacha is 1-2 with a 6.43 ERA. Right now, Wacha has a shoulder injury, and no one knows when he can pitch again.
All in all, the Mets lost 6-2. They’re 9-14. That’s the worst record in the NL East with the third worst winning percentage in the National League. By winning percentage, the Mets are the seventh worst team in baseball.
But hey, the Mets didn’t need Wheeler, and as Van Wagenen said, “I think that we’re probably the deepest starting pitching rotation in baseball.”
Again, the Mets are 9-14, and entering this loss, the Mets had the eight worst starting staff ERA. Mind you, that’s with Jacob deGrom, who has a 2.45 ERA.
Long story, short here is Brodie Van Wagenen is not only a terrible GM, he’s also the worst in professional sports. With each move he makes, he actually harms the Mets chances of winning, and he starts pushing himself toward the conversation of worst GMs in history.
Last night, Travis d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with five RBI. Three of those five RBI came on an eighth inning double which put the Braves ahead 11-10. This was the same d’Arnaud he rage released last year.
You couldn’t help but notice the same game d’Arnaud won, the .208/.269/.250 hitting Ramos flew out with the tying run on second to end the game.
Case-in-point, Ramos called six outside pitches when Marcell Ozuna was up last week, and on a 3-2 pitch, he called the same pitch Ozuna struck out on the previous day. Short of using a megaphone, Ramos couldn’t have made the pitch type and location any more obvious.
This is normally where we go to Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. On that note, the Mets called up Brian Dozier despite his bit really fully preparing for the season and his not taking part in summer camp.
By hastily starting an ill-prepared Dozier, the Mets have admitted Cano is no more than a platoon player making that trade somehow worse.
On the topic of the platoon, you know who was a really good right-handed platoon option? Wilmer Flores.
However, the Mets non-tendered Flores partially because of a knee condition he never actually had. Instead, they replaced him with Jed Lowrie, a player who actually had a knee injury.
That knee injury is the invented condition of PCL laxity. Even better than the conjured up diagnosis was it taking nearly a year-and-a-half to get a second opinion.
While the Mets are getting nothing from the impending free agent Marisnick, and their bullpen has been struggling Blake Taylor has been terrific out of the Houston Astros bullpen.
The list with Van Wagenen goes on and on. He told us he was replacing Zack Wheeler with Marcus Stroman, who was in the same rotation. He then let Wheeler walk and actually replaced him with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha while trying to tell us the pitching improved.
Don’t forget his continuously telling us he wasn’t going to fire Carlos Beltran only to fire Beltran before he managed a game.
It’s like Van Wagenen is George Costanza. Every instinct is wrought with failure. The key difference is Costanza was the assistant to the traveling secretary, and Van Wagenen is the GM.
The other difference is Van Wagenen is real. He’s all too real.
Less than a week ago, the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves played two exhibition games. After those games, while they have not tested positive, Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers were shut down with COVID19 symptoms. As a result, they missed the first series of the season.
The healthy Braves travelled to New York, and they played a series against the Mets. As far as we know, the test results for players and personnel on both teams have not been released.
The Marlins went to Philadelphia to play a three game series. Unlike the Braves, the Marlins have seen a rash of positive tests. So far, we know Jorge Alfaro, Jose Urena, Garrett Cooper, and Harold Ramirez have tested positive. While the other names of players and Marlins personnel have not been released, we know there are more . . . a significant number more.
Eight more players and two coaches with the Miami Marlins have tested positive for COVID-19, as an outbreak has spread throughout their clubhouse and brought the total of cases in recent days to at least 14, sources familiar with the situation tell me and @JesseRogersESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 27, 2020
We know the other Marlins players and Phillies players are awaiting test results. They’re not expected for 24-48 hours. There’s somewhat of a problem here.
Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio had epidemiologist Dr. Zach Binney on this morning. Dr. Binney explained although there could be additional Marlins and new Phillies infected this first round of tests may come back negative. That’s a problem which could only be solved with quarantine or self isolation for five days.
Dr Zach Binney , epidemiologist from Emory U, just told us that in his opinion, the Phillies should shutdown their team for at least 5 days to ensure that they weren’t exposed by a Marlins player. @MLBNetworkRadio
— Jim Duquette (@Jim_Duquette) July 27, 2020
At the moment, the Marlins have been kept in Philadelphia and did not travel to Baltimore to play the Orioles. Tonight’s game has been postponed.
The Yankees, who have traveled to Philadelphia to play the Phillies, are stuck in their hotel as tonight’s game has been postponed. That seems like a fair course of action considering the Yankees will be using the same visitors’ clubhouse the Marlins used.
On the Yankees, they just played a Washington Nationals team who saw Juan Soto test positive. At least according to Dr. Binney’s statements, the Nationals may still see more positives. Those players might’ve infected the Yankees players.
At this point, we just don’t know.
We also don’t know what impact this will have on players and their families. Zack Wheeler just pitched against the Marlins, and his wife recently delivered twins. His entire family, who are all high risk, might’ve been infected.
Boston Red Sox pitcher, Eduardo Rodriguez had COVID19 as well. Currently, he is being tested and evaluated for myocarditis, a condition which diminishes the heart’s ability to pump blood. The myocarditis stems from his COVID19 infection.
We have no idea how this disease will impact people. As we see with Rodriguez, just because you don’t die doesn’t mean you won’t experience significant health issues as a direct result of this disease.
It should be noted Rodriguez’s Red Sox are facing a Mets team who may or may not be infected.
At this very moment, there’s the potential the Braves, Marlins, Mets, Phillies, Nationals, and Yankees have been exposed and infected. There could be more teams past them. For instance, the Royals and Rays have had players test positive this month.
Until MLB can do sufficient testing while accounting for an incubation period, the sport needs to be shut down. For now, based on epidemiologist suggestion, that’s at least five days. Once we get through this period, MLB can then decide if it’s safe to return to play, another five days are needed, or quite possibly, they need to shut it all down.
Regardless of the decision, one thing is clear. No one, especially those teams in the NL and AL East, should be playing today or even tomorrow. Time to shut it down and hope games can begin again soon.