Back in 2013, many were scratching their heads as to why Sandy Alderson and a cash strapped Mets organization would use a substantial amount of their limited funds on a soon to be 41 year old Bartolo Colon coming off of a PED suspension. As was usually the case during his tenure, Alderson knew better than everyone.
In 2014, Colon stuck in the rotation in the rotation, and he would pitch over 200 innings. That was exactly what the Mets envisioned Colon to be. He was supposed to be an innings eater for an emerging Mets rotation. As luck would have it, Colon proved to be more than that.
Colon was a leader of that pitching staff which won the pennant in 2015. He worked with the pitchers on mechanics and bullpens. He worked with them on how to attack batters. As was the case, he would text them to check in on them to make sure they were alright. Mostly, Colon provided that veteran leadership which makes a difference. It is something people oft talk about, but in practice it is rarely impactful. Colon was impactful.
During the process, Colon became a fan favorite. There were several reasons for that. Aside from his girth and laughable attempts at hitting, Colon was a pitcher who took the ball every fifth day and rarely made excuses. He was also an exceptional fielder.
In 2016, he should have won the Gold Glove. From 2014 – 2016, Colon had the second best DRS among all National League pitchers. This spoke to how athletic he truly was and how much effort he put into helping his team.
During his tenure with the Mets, it was always expected he would be pushed out of the rotation eventually. However, that never happened because Colon proved to be extremely durable, and sadly, Zack Wheeler wasn’t. That proved to be an extremely valuable trait in 2015 and 2016.
In 2015, Colon was the Opening Day starter, and he was really the only Mets pitcher who did not need to skip a start. During that season, he would set a unique Major League record by becoming the first ever pitcher to beat one team (Orioles) while pitching for seven different teams (Indians, White Sox, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, Athletics, Mets).
While he was a mainstay in the rotation during the regular season, he was moved to the rotation for the 2015 postseason. That postseason was a mixed bag for Colon, but he had come out of the bullpen in Game 4 of the NLCS to pick up the win as the Mets swept the Cubs:
While Colon had highlights in 2014 and 2015, the 2016 season was definitively his best and most storied in his Mets career. During that season, partially due to an injury to Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom stepping aside, Colon would be an All-Star in San Diego. While he was an All-Star in San Diego that year, that was not the most noteworthy thing he did in San Diego that year.
On May 7, 2016, Colon homered off of James Shields in what was one of the most unlikely homers you will ever see. When you hear the call, you hear the disbelief and incredulousness in Gary Cohen’s voice. With that homer, Colon became the oldest ever Major Leaguer to hit his first homer.
While the story of that season might’ve been the homer, the real story was how well he pitched. That 2016 season was clearly his best in a Mets uniform, and with every Mets starter not named Syndergaard needing season ending surgery, the Mets needed him more than ever.
For the second straight year, Colon had led the league in BB/9. Overall, he was 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA and a 117 ERA+. Colon was at his best in August when the Mets were still staying afloat and were primed to make their run. In that pivotal month of August, he was 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA. Over the final two months of the season, he was 6-2. That helped the Mets make their improbable run to the Wild Card making consecutive postseasons for the second time in their history.
Colon never got a chance to pitch in that postseason, and he would leave the Mets in the offseason as he was pursuing an opportunity to start to give him a chance to surpass Dennis Martinez for the most wins by a Latin born pitcher. When he left, he left behind a team who missed his presence in the clubhouse and a fan base who lovingly nicknamed him Big Sexy.
So far, Colon is the best Mets pitcher who has ever worn the number 40, and if he had his druthers, he would return to the Mets and wear the number again. Whether that happens, remains to be seen.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy
29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza
32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey
34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
Not only was Carlos Beltran the best Mets player to ever wear the number 15, he is easily the best center fielder in team history. There is an argument to be made he was the best outfielder to ever play for the Mets.
Things did not start off that way. In fact, his 2005 season with the Mets was extremely disappointing, and to some, it invoked memories of the Bobby Bonilla deal. In fact, Beltran was the first real major venture into free agency the Mets made after that Bonilla signing.
It was an eventful year for him. In Spring Training, he took David Wright and Jose Reyes under his wing to show them how to prepare. He helped avoid the Mets going 0-6 to start the year by hitting a two run homer against John Smoltz. From there, it was mostly consternation from fans about his propensity to bunt and rolling over on pitches. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, he and Mike Cameron had one of the more horrific outfield collisions you would ever see.
Things would go much better for him in 2006.
To put it simply, Beltran was robbed of the MVP award that year. During that season, he was the best overall player in the National League, and he was the best player on the best team in baseball. He really did it all that year. He was an All-Star, and he won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. There was game saving defensive plays and walk-off homers.
That season, Beltran set a team record for highest single-season WAR, and he would tie Todd Hundley‘s record for homers in a season and Howard Johnson‘s record for extra base hits. He would also get the single season record for runs scored, a record which still stands.
For all the talk from some people who only want to focus on the strikeout which ended that season, the Mets come nowhere close to that Game 7 without Beltran. In addition to his great year, Beltran would homer three times in that series. The first was a two run shot in the sixth inning of Game 1 which paced the Mets 2-0 victory. He then had a two run home run game in a must win Game 4.
The next two years for Beltran and the Mets were known for their collapses. That’s unfortunate because Beltran was great for those Mets teams. In 2007, while not as good as he was the prior year, he was still great making another All-Star team and winning another Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. With respect to the Gold Glove, in Houston, Beltran had just about the greatest catch a Mets player has ever made (in the regular season):
While the Mets did collapse that year, Beltran did what he could do to stop it. Over the final two months of the season, Beltran was at his best hitting .304/.378/.613 with 14 homers and 50 RBI. His eight homers over the final month of the season was more than anyone on the Mets. Over those brutal last five games of the season, he was 6-for-22 with three homers.
In 2007, he did all he could to to stop another collapse. By WAR, that season was the seventh best in team history. Looking at Mets team history, only Beltran and Wright appear multiple times on that top 10 list.
Again, Beltran was great to finish that year doing all he could do to help stop a second collapse. Over the final two months, he hit .322/.400/.589 with 12 homers and 40 RBI. Over the final five games of the season, he hit .412/.545/.588, and he would hit the last homer a Mets player ever hit in Shea Stadium. That homer would tie the game, but unfortunately, the Mets would lose that game.
During the Carlos Beltran era, the Mets would not get that close again. Beltran was one of the few Mets who had played well in the new ballpark, but he had an injury shortened season. It would eventually lead to a fracturing of the relationship with the Mets as he would have career saving surgery on the eve of the 2010 season, a surgery the Mets originally protested.
In 2011, Beltran returned for his last year with the Mets. He was once again an All-Star, but this time, he did it as a right fielder. When he was asked to move to right to allow Angel Pagan to play center, Beltran made no issue about it, and he made the switch willingly. That year, Beltran re-established himself as one of the best players in the game, and he had another huge moment hitting three two run homers in Colorado:
With his resurgence, the Mets were able to get Zack Wheeler from the San Francisco Giants. When that trade was completed, it put an end to the Mets career of one of the greatest players to ever wear the uniform. It also put an end to the Mets career of the most under-appreciated Mets player of all-time.
His 2006-2008 stretch was arguably the best three year stretch any Mets player has ever had. He was a Gold Glover and a Silver Slugger. Mostly, he played like a Hall of Famer, and he may just be that one day.
There was a chance for Beltran to get that appreciation he always deserved when the Mets initially hired him to be their manager. With the Houston Astros fallout, Beltran was the only player to pay the price being effectively fired by the Mets as they kept two players who had also cheated in Houston. With that, Beltran’s Hall of Fame chances may have taken a hit, and the chances he wears a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque may have also taken a hit.
Still, there is no denying how great Beltran was as a Met. He was a five tool player who played to his full potential with the Mets. He set team records, established himself as the best center fielder in team history, and ultimately, he is easily the best Mets player to ever wear the number 15.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the best players in Mets history by highlighting the best Mets player to wear a particular uniform number. In this case, this is not saying Beltran was the 15th best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 15.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
The New York Mets have been around since 1962, and in that time, they have two players in the Hall of Fame, three players with retired numbers, 31 people in the Mets Hall of Fame, and a whole host of other beloved players. The question is who exactly is the most beloved player?
Does Tom Seaver still have cache in 2020? Did Mike Piazza or David Wright surpass him? Does Keith Hernandez‘s work in the booth as well as his play on the field make him the one Mets player who has reached across all generations?
We really don’t know the answer to that and a whole host of other related questions. To that end, with there being no baseball, this site has set up a field of 64 akin to the NCAA Tournament. The field has been sectioned off in roughly 14 year increments to cover different eras of Mets baseball with each particular era having at least one Mets team who has won a pennant.
There were some tough choices to be made in selecting this field. The field was done using different offensive and pitching metrics, and it was done in consultation with Mets fans. On that note, special thanks are do to Joe D, Michael Mayer, Greg Prince, Tim Ryder, James Schapiro, and Bre S.
There were some tough decisions, and unfortunately, players like Ed Charles, Art Shamsky, Dave Kingman, John Stearns, Randy Myers, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado, and Zack Wheeler did not make the list. It is regrettable, but the cuts had to be made somewhere to make this a more manageable field of 64.
The plan is to have polls open each day with a blurb on the match-up on this site with the ability to vote both on this site and on Twitter. The results of both will be combined, so if you are truly interested, you will be able to vote in both places. While not perfect, this is somewhat akin to the All-Star Game which to some degree is voting for fan favorites.
May your favorite player win, and Let’s Go Mets!
Ron Swoboda Rusty Staub Tug McGraw Ed Kranepool Felix Millan Bud Harrelson Nolan Ryan Jerry Grote Ron Hunt Cleon Jones Donn Clendenon Jon Matlack Tommie Agee Jerry Koosman Gary Gentry Tim Teufel Ron Darling Lenny Dykstra Mookie Wilson Sid Fernandez Gary Carter David Cone Howard Johnson Lee Mazzilli Darryl Strawberry Ray Knight Jesse Orosco Bob Ojeda Dwight Gooden Wally Backman Rico Brogna Rick Reed Bernard Gilkey Robin Ventura Todd Zeile John Olerud Lance Johnson John Franco Turk Wendell Al Leiter Bobby Jones Todd Hundley Benny Agbayani Edgardo Alfonzo Armando Benitez Jeff McNeil Michael Conforto Daniel Murphy Johan Santana Matt Harvey Jose Reyes Wilmer Flores Noah Syndergaard Brandon Nimmo Carlos Beltran Pete Alonso Curtis Granderson Yoenis Cespedes Jacob deGrom R.A. Dickey
Well, it finally happened. Behind the pitching of Jacob deGrom, the Mets finally have a simulated win for the 2020 season.
For a while, it looked like a typical deGrom start with him shutting down the other side and the Mets not scoring runs. Jeff McNeil was thrown out at the plate, and Brandon Nimmo struck out with the bases loaded.
Finally, Robinson Cano hit an RBI single in the third, and Dominic Smith would hit a three run homer to give the Mets a 4-0 lead. Pete Alonso, who has struggled in 2020 (for what very little that’s worth) also homered in the game.
It was a very rude homecoming for Zack Wheeler who only lasted four innings and would take the loss.
The Phillies didn’t get to deGrom until Nick Williams hit a two run homer in the seventh, but that only pulled the Phillies to within 5-2.
The concern with Noah Syndergaard having Tommy John surgery isn’t just his being gone for the 2020 season and a significant portion of the 2021 season. The larger problem from a Mets perspective is this team has not had the best history with Tommy John surgeries and rehabilitation.
The Mets don’t have to look any further than their pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. Back in 2013, he was putting together a promising campaign when it was discovered he had a torn UCL. During his rehab from Tommy John, things were not going well, and it was discovered he would need to undergo a second surgery. He would only pitch one season in the minors after that before retiring.
Hefner was rehabbing at the same time as Matt Harvey. When it was discovered Hefner needed the second surgery, the Mets had eased the throttle off of Harvey who was pushing to pitch in 2014. In 2015, despite agreements on his innings limit, the Mets reneged and pushed him to pitch, and Harvey would throw more innings than anyone in the history of baseball after their Tommy John surgery.
In 2016, he was just not good with everyone trying to figure out what was wrong with him. It took a while to discover he had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Despite noticeable muscle atrophy, the Mets pitched him in 2017 leading to a stress reaction. Really, that was all but it for him as a Met and possibly his career. The big unknown is how the Mets handling of him affected his shoulder and/or aggravated or caused the TOS.
Harvey would not be the only Mets pitcher to return in 2015 from Tommy John. The other notable pitcher to return was Bobby Parnell. After discovering a torn UCL the day after the 2014 Opening Day, Parnell underwent the surgery. A year later, a Mets team hoping to stay in the pennant race activated him well before the end of the 18 month rehabilitation period. Parnell didn’t have his fastball, and his command was shot. By the middle of August, he had pitched to a 6.38 ERA before being put on the DL with arm fatigue. He’d only pitch 5.1 Major League innings after this season.
While Parnell was someone whose injury was discovered a day into the 2014 season, Zack Wheeler‘s torn UCL was discovered on the eve of the 2015 season. Wheeler had surgery, and he was slated to return in the middle of the 2016 season to help the Mets return to the postseason. During his rehab, he’d have issues with his stitches, and he would suffer a flexor strain when he was finally able to step on a mound again.
He wasn’t able to step onto a Major League mound again until April 2017, and he would have to be shut down that season due to a stress reaction in his right arm. Really, Wheeler wasn’t right until the 2018 season, which was three years after the first surgery.
A Mets pitcher having this level of difficulty in their Tommy John rehab is not anything new. In fact, that was exactly the case with Steven Matz when he was in the minor leagues. After being drafted in 2009, it was discovered he had a torn UCL, and he needed to have Tommy John surgery.
Matz really struggled with the rehabilitation, and there was a significant amount of scar tissue. At one point, they were concerned he was going to need a second Tommy John surgery. The advice was to just pitch through it. Matz would do just that finally making his professional debut in 2012. His Tommy John issues would not re-emerge until 2017 when he needed ulnar nerve transposition surgery.
When Matz underwent the surgery, he joined reliever Erik Goeddel and ace Jacob deGrom in having the surgery. With respect to Goeddel, he had Tommy John when he was in high school well before he was a member of the Mets organization. However, with respect to deGrom, he had his surgery and rehab as a member of the Mets organization.
With deGrom, he had seemingly appeared to be the one Mets pitcher who had a normal Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation. Yes, there were difficult times when he told Frank Viola he wanted to quit, but that was part of the normally grueling rehabilitation process and return. Ultimately, deGrom would become a Rookie of the Year winner, and he would introduce himself to the world with an incredible All-Star Game appearance and a postseason for the ages.
As noted with Harvey and Wheeler, Mets pitchers were dropping like flies in 2016. In addition to Harvey and Wheeler, Matz went down with a massive bone spur. It was then discovered during a pennant race, deGrom needed the ulnar transposition surgery. As we have seen, the surgery went well, and after a pedestrian 2018 season (by his standards), he has returned to be the best pitcher in baseball.
Keep in mind, the Mets checkered Tommy John history isn’t just recent. Jason Isringhausen would have the first of his three Tommy John surgeries with the Mets. Looking back at Generation K, he, Paul Wilson, and Bill Pulsipher would all have arm issues leading to them never pitching in the same rotation.
The Mets haven’t had Tommy John issues with pitchers only. T.J. Rivera underwent the surgery in 2017, and he attempted to return too soon struggling in 22 at-bats. The Mets would release him, and he would play in the Atlantic Leagues for the Long Island Ducks before landing a minor league deal with the Philadephia Phillies. We will see if he can return.
Last year, we saw the Mets botch the handling of Travis d’Arnaud. Even with the team playing well with a tandem of Wilson Ramos and Tomas Nido, the team rushed d’Arnaud back to the majors before one full year of rehabilitation. He would have one of the worst games you would ever see a catcher have leading to the Mets rage cutting him.
He would first land with the Dodgers and then the Rays. Notably, he didn’t start really playing well until July, which was roughly 15 months after the surgery, which is much closer to the recommended 18 months.
This is not an extensive history, but it is a good snapshot of the struggles the Mets have had dealing with Tommy John surgeries. Perhaps, it is of no coinidence much of this has coincided with the Wilpon taking over majority control of the Mets, and as Pedro Martinez and others have noted, Jeff Wilpon’s interference with medical decision making has been a real issue.
Seeing the Tommy John problems the Mets have had, we get a better sense of why Seth Lugo was so unwilling to go through the process, and we see some of the dangers which may very well face Syndergaard as he attempts to return from the surgery before hitting free agency.
In true Mets fashion, it was discovered Mets ace Noah Syndergaard has a torn UCL, and he is going to need Tommy John surgery. With that, the Mets chances of winning the 2020 World Series, if the season is ever going to be played, just took a massive hit.
New York Mets starter Noah Syndergaard has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery in the near future, sources tell ESPN. The procedure will keep him out until at earliest April 2021 and likely into the summer months.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 24, 2020
For all the discussion people want to have about Syndergaard not fulfilling his potential as an ace, Syndergaard remained a very good starting pitcher. In 2019, Syndergaard was 18th in FIP, and he had the second best hard-hit rate in the majors. Over the past two seasons, Syndergaard ranked eighth in FIP, and he had the best hard hit rate in the majors.
Overall, while some of his stats did not bear out that way, partially due to what has been an atrocious Mets defense, Syndergaard has pitched like one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He’d be the ace on almost any other team. Part of the problem Syndergaard has with respect to how he is perceived is he is in the same rotation as Jacob deGrom, and every pitcher in baseball looks worse than they actually are next to him.
Looking at the Mets, their plan to compete for the division was rolling out a great top three of deGrom, Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman. Now, they are going to have one of the better 1-2 punches in the majors, but not the best, and certainly, no longer the best 1-2-3 combination.
Worse yet, this thrusts Michael Wacha into that starting rotation. Wacha has been shut down multiple times in his career due to shoulder issues. That includes last year. Over the past two years, Wacha was simply not good. He had a 4.76 ERA with a 1.563 WHIP. In fact, he has had an ERA above 4.00 and a WHIP above 1.350 in three out of the last four years.
This isn’t like 2015 when the Mets had Steven Matz and Syndergaard waiting in the wings. No, the rotation really couldn’t withstand an injury to one of their top three starters like this. This serves as a crucial blow to their chances of competing.
Of course, things didn’t have to be this way. The Mets could’ve taken the money being given to Rick Porcello, owner of the worst ERA in the AL last year, Wacha, Jake Marisnick, and Dellin Betances, and they could’ve just given it to Zack Wheeler. That also would’ve given them a little money to spare.
With Wheeler, who is a discount at $118 million, especially with money deferred, the Mets still could’ve had a great 1-2 combination, and even with Syndergaard going down, their 1-2-3 punch would have likely remained the best in the majors. Mostly, it would’ve allowed the Mets to better sustain this injury.
Remember, the Mets aren’t just built on pitching. No, they are built on elite starting pitching. The best staff in the majors. That took a giant step back when the Mets let Wheeler walk, and now, it’s frankly no longer the case with Syndergaard done for 2020. In the end, Brodie Van Wagenen lost sight of this, and now he lost his team’s biggest strength.
Now, the Mets are without Syndergaard, and their chances took a MAJOR hit. Now, their hopes lie with Jeremy Hefner having a profound impact on the Mets rotation, which includes, but is not limited to having Porcello and Wacha turn the clock back 5+ years and having Matz reach his full potential.
The question next becomes what happens if the next pitcher goes down. Unless Corey Oswalt or Stephen Gonsalves are ready to contribute, this all could become a disaster rather quickly. The ultimate point here is the Mets chances of winning the World Series went from legitimately possible to having a real outside shot. That’s just how much losing Syndergaard hurts the team.
At least from a Mets fans perspective, this is the worst thing happening in the world right now. Of course, that really isn’t true. There are far more pressing concerns at the moment.
On that front, one of the things Mets fans were clinging onto was the prospect of the return of baseball at some point during 2020. When that happened, the Mets had that type of rotation which could have taken them their first World Series title since 1986. Now, there may not even be that to look forward to at at time when we are just sitting around waiting for things to improve.
On a day like today, when it is reported Syndergaard won’t pitch at all in 2020, it does not seem like things are going to be any better anytime soon.
It is not even Opening Day, and the New York Yankees pitching rotation is getting decimated. Luis Severino is done for the year after opting for Tommy John surgery. James Paxton had a microscoptic lumbar discectomy and is out until June. Throw in Domingo German being suspended for the first 63 games of the 2020 season.
Right there, the Yankees will enter the season missing 3/5 of their rotation. This has them relying on J.A. Happ more than they intended, and they are going to have to hope a couple of pitchers step up. That includes Jonathan Loaisiga, who struggled last year, and Jordan Montgomery, who is returning from Tommy John, and Luis Cessa, who has proved to be more reliable in the bullpen.
When you consider one of the more “reliable” arms in the Yankees rotation is Masahiro Tanaka, who has a torn UCL. Looking at that and everything going on, the Yankees need arms. To that end, there is no surprise the Yankees reportedly called the Mets to inquire on Steven Matz.
While it would make sense for the Yankees to attempt to obtain Matz from the Mets, it doesn’t make much sense for the Mets to trade Matz away.
Matz is the only left-handed option for the Mets rotation. He is under team control through the 2021 season, which is all the more important considering Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha are free agents after this season. More than that, Matz has potential for a real breakthrough season.
No, the Mets need Matz in the rotation in 2020 and 2021. Moreover, trading Matz runs counter to the Mets plan of building starting rotation depth over re-signing Zack Wheeler and keeping their aces together. Still, even with Matz being off the table, there is a realistic trade between the Mets and Yankees.
Walker Lockett is out of options, and realistically speaking, there is no path to him to make the Opening Day roster. This leaves the Mets in a position to lose Lockett, a player they acquired in the Kevin Plawecki trade last year, for nothing.
Instead of risking a Lockett falling to them in waivers, the Yankees could obtain Lockett now. If they did that, they get the added benefit of seeing how he works with their own coaching staff. Another added benefit to acquiring Lockett is he’s a groundball pitcher, which could be useful to a team with a good infield defense and a home run friendly ballpark.
Ideally, the Mets return could be a player similarly out-of-options. While ideal, it is not realistic as Kyle Higashioka, Michael Tauchman, and Gio Urshela will very likely make the Yankees Opening Day roster. Maybe the Yankees would be willing to part with a player like Tyler Wade or Thairo Estrada, each of whom have an option remaining, but really that doesn’t seem likely for a player the Yankees could wait out to obtain on waivers.
Really, the Mets potential return for Lockett is really limited, but it is better they seek out what they can get for him now instead of risking losing him for nothing. With the Yankees, they at least have an obvious fit. The question is whether these two teams can find a middle ground, or really, if the Yankees would have any interest whatsoever in Lockett.
During the 2019 season, there were rumblings the Mets pitching staff was not happy with Wilson Ramos‘ work behind the plate. While Noah Syndergaard was the only one who went public, we did hear rumblings about other pitchers.
For example, there were issues early on in the season between Ramos and Jacob deGrom. This led to deGrom briefly using Tomas Nido as his personal catcher to get his season back on track and to get him moving towards winning his second straight Cy Young.
Behind the scenes, deGrom and Ramos worked together to get on the same page. Beginning on June 7, Ramos again caught deGrom the majority of the time. From that point forward, deGrom was 8-3 with a 1.88 ERA. In essence, the two figured it out, and once again, deGrom was deGrom.
All we know is that the two worked out what needed to be worked out, but we never quite knew the issue. In a recent interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Zack Wheeler described what the issue between Ramos and really the rest of the pitching staff might’ve been.
Wheeler mostly tabbed unfamiliarity as the issue saying, “I wanted to go up there [with high fastballs] but he wasn’t calling it, so I didn’t throw it up there. Nothing on him. He was getting used to us also. But I knew I needed to go up there a good bit, even early in the count.”
Looking at Wheeler’s first half, he struggled. In 19 starts, he had a 4.69 ERA. The second half was a different story. As Wheeler noted, Ramos was calling the pitches up in the zone more, as he had wanted, and Wheeler rebounded to have another big second half.
Akin to deGrom and Wheeler, we saw clear first half and second half splits for the Mets. In the first half, the Mets were outside the top ten in most pitching categories including their having a 4.88 team ERA, which was 10th worst in the majors. In the second half, the Mets staff was significantly improved to be among the best staffs in the game with a 3.48 ERA, which was fourth best in the Majors.
Perhaps it is of no coincidence the Mets were a completely different team in the second half. After being 10 games under .500 in the first half, they were 20 games over .500 (.644) in the second half. With Ramos figuring things out behind the plate and getting on the same page with the Mets pitchers, they were a completely different team.
It seems the only pitcher Ramos couldn’t quite figure things out with was Syndergaard, but to his credit Ramos is working on it by changing his stance. This should allow him to better catch and frame for Syndergaard leading to better results.
Across the board, there should be better results. After all, the awkward feeling out period between Ramos and the staff isn’t really present. In fact, aside from Dellin Betances, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha, Ramos has worked with this staff. He knows what they need to do to succeed, and more importantly, what he needs to do to help them succeed.
Overall, Ramos was a a part of the problem in the first half – a big part. However, he was part of the solution in the second half, and now, he may be a big reason why the Mets win in 2020.
So, you might ask yourself, how could the general manager who traded away Jarred Kelenic along with three other prospects who have hit top 100 prospect lists to finish double digits out of first place possibly get worse?
Well, he hired a manager in Carlos Beltran and fired him before Beltran even managed one game. Van Wagenen would claim he had no idea the Astros were doing anything despite teams making complaints, Van Wagenen being a player agent, and his being good friends with now former Astros manager AJ Hinch.
While claiming his learning what happened was the reason for the decision, he would still trade two prospects to obtain Jake Marisnick AFTER Mike Fiers went public. Somehow, Van Wagenen has an issue with the Astros did, but not when it came to parting with more prospects to make this a bottom six farm system.
It should be noted that in addition to parting with prospects, the Mets are paying Marisnick more than what players like Billy Hamilton, Juan Lagares, and Kevin Pillar will make in 2020. Of course, anyone who read the market of an over abundance of glove first center fielders should’ve anticipated that.
Of course, part of being able to gauge the market is to actively be part of the market.
Zack Wheeler told @GJoyce9 of The Post he’s not surprised he never heard back from the Mets last December before signing his new contract. Why wasn’t he surprised? “Because it’s them,” he said. “It’s how they roll.”
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) February 13, 2020
This isn’t new. This is how the Mets do business. We all know this, and time and again, we’ve seen this coupled with a slight at the player. We’ve already seen that with Van Wagenen making overtures the Mets didn’t value him as high as the Phillies did.
Now, in his own small and petty way, he made things worse saying, “We helped him parlay two good half-seasons over the last five years into $118 million.”
Petty, ironic, and wrong.
The problem with @GMBVW is he even gets the easy stuff hopelessly wrong. He could’ve said:
It’s unfortunate Zack has some hard feelings about leaving the Mets. We were obviously disappointed we were not able to keep him a Met for life, but that’s the downside of free agency.
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) February 14, 2020
Putting all the stupidity and falsehoods in Van Wagenen’s statements, lets just look at what he did.
He took the $23.6 million per year Wheeler is making, and he gave it to Rick Porcello (worst AL ERA), Michael Wacha (bum shoulder), and Dellin Betances (one appearance). Their combined 1.3 WAR was dwarfed by Wheeler’s 4.1.
That’s besides the fact Wheeler was very well worth the money, had other offers for higher, and those teams believed the Mets weren’t getting the most out of their great pitchers partially due to their poor analytical approach.
As an aside, the texting, chair throwing, no ifs, come get us GM, has been trying to oversell the Mets big second half, and now, he’s maligning someone for having big second halves. Even better, Van Wagenen is able to sell that second half because of Wheeler.
In the end, Van Wagenen just continues to make everything worse. Fortunately, Sandy Alderson left him with so much talent, not even Van Wagenen can stand in the way of this team winning no matter how much he tries.
Well, that’s when he actually tries. As Wheeler will tell you, he doesn’t. That’s unless you’re a former client like Jed Lowrie, who no one knows if he’ll play again.
Today, the offseason is officially over, and Spring Training officially begins with pitchers and catchers reporting to St. Lucie. Looking at the way the contracts are structured, this could be the last year this rotation reports, and in very short order, this rotation could be almost completely dismantled over the ensuing few years.
Jacob deGrom has a player option after the 2022 season.
This is what remains from a homegrown group which led the Mets to the 2015 pennant and brought the Mets back to the 2016 postseason. We have already seen Matt Harvey and now Zack Wheeler (on neither team) leave for very different reasons. Now, the Mets have to assess who is next.
Ideally, the Mets would be moving quickly to lock some of these starters up. After all, Syndergaard and Matz are coming off down years, and the Mets have a year of control to use as leverage in negotiations. Seeing how Matz finished the season, Syndergaard’s offseason workouts geared towards pitching better, and Jeremy Hefner already working on getting the most out of both, they may get very expensive very soon.
Like Matz, Stroman and Porcello are local kids who grew up Mets fans. We have already seen Porcello leave some money on the table to pitch for the Mets. Could Stroman do the same knowing he gets to pitch for his hometown team and his being born to pitch on this stage?
Sure, you could argue the Mets should be looking to maximize on the value of some of these pitchers on the trade market. At some point, the team also has to look to the future when pitchers like David Peterson, Thomas Szapucki, Matthew Allan, and others are ready to contribute.
The payroll obligations, along with having to pay players like Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo have to be balanced. The Mets also have to balance that against building the type of team which would discourage deGrom from exercising his opt out.
Of course, the question is who exactly is negotiating these contracts. Not too long ago, we thought that would be Steve Cohen, and what many assumed were bottomless pockets. Now, with that deal falling apart, we don’t know.
Sure, the Mets say they are going to sell the team, and they are no longer going to insist on having control over the team, but we have seen this show. It has previously ended with deals falling apart, and the Mets moving to sell off minority shares as as short term fundraising scheme.
Long story, short, here, the Mets need to figure out their ownership, and they need to figure it out fast. There is a lot more riding on the sale of the team than the 2020 season and the ability to add payroll, if necessary, at the trade deadline. As noted, the Mets need to figure out the pitching staff for 2021 and beyond.
The sooner they figure it out, the better. Once they have clarity on that issue, they will know who exactly are trade chips, and how exactly the Mets can build the 2020, 2021, 2022, and beyonds World Series contending teams.