Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom will not just take any job. At 35 years old, he can be selective, and he has. In the past, Bloom has outright refused to even interview for the Diamondbacks position. However, he not only has decided to interview for the Mets job, but he is also a finalist for the General Manager position.
Bloom’s interesting in the position should have Mets fans excited about the future of this team regardless of who the team hires to be the General Manager.
There is a lot to like with this Mets team. Just like 2015, it all starts with the rotation. Jacob deGrom has emerged this season as the best pitcher in baseball. Zack Wheeler looked like an ace himself posting the second best ERA in the second half. Noah Syndergaard had 13 wins in a down year, and he had a strong finish to the season. Finally, somehow Steven Matz actually made 30 starts last year. Now that Matz is able to navigate a full season, he can take the next step much like how Wheeler did this year.
There are also the y0ung left-handed bats on this roster. Using wRC+ as a barometer, Brandon Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League last year and in the top 10 of all of baseball. After dealing with the shoulder issues, Michael Conforto hit .273/.356/.539 in the second half. Jeff McNeil emerged from out of nowhere to not just make to the majors but to also claim the second base job for 2019 by posting a 2.4 WAR and 137 wRC+ in just 63 Major League games.
The Mets also have a vastly improving farm system. Andres Gimenez, Peter Alonso, and Jarred Kelenic are viewed by nearly every outlet as Top 100 prospects. After a breakout season, Justin Dunn is on the cusp of cracking those lists as well. David Peterson and Anthony Kay are both left-handers who took steps forward and are not far from the majors.
There are also young players who people have lost enthusiasm but still have talent. Dominic Smith will not turn 24 until August, and there are still many who believe in his talent. For example, Keith Law of ESPN believes Smith could hit better than .262/.346/.459 if given the first base job next year. Before his season ending injury last year, Gavin Cecchini returned to the form he was when he was seen as a future middle infielder for the Mets.
This is before we even consider players like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and even Desmond Lindsay with his retooled swing. The overriding point is the Mets farm system has plenty of talent, and Bloom, a Rays executive with a strong player development background knows this.
Ultimately, this is why Bloom is interested in the Mets General Manager job. This is also why Mets fans should be excited about the future of this team even if Bloom does not get the job because whether or not he gets the job, the talent is already here. It’s now just a matter of that talent continuing their development and winning the World Series.
Back in 2015, the Mets somehow held onto a Game 5 and series clinching win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite having nothing, Jacob deGrom kept the Dodgers to two runs over six innings. That was more than enough as Daniel Murphy took over that game in what was one of the truly great postseason games a player has ever had.
He’d double home the first run of the game in the first off Zack Greinke. On a fourth inning walk to Lucas Duda, Murphy went first to third against a shifted and lackadaisical Dodgers infield allowing him to score the tying run on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly.
The big blow came in the sixth when Murphy hit the go-ahead homer putting the Mets up 3-2.
At the time, the Mets seemed to be the young team on the rise. In addition to deGrom, Syndergaard, and Familia, the team had Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and eventually Zack Wheeler again.
In 2016, both teams returned to the postseason. The Mets captured the top Wild Card spot only to be shut out by Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. That year, the Dodgers would lose in the NLCS to the eventual World Series winning Chicago Cubs (two years later and that sentence still seems bizarre).
After that, the Mets have had consecutive losing seasons while the Dodgers have gone to back-to-back World Series. Why?
Well, for starters, the Dodgers build a deep team with a deep bench. They do not have top heavy rosters which crumble when there is one injury. For example, Clayton Kershaw has not thrown over 175.0 innings in a season since that NLDS, and yet, the Dodgers remain a great team.
Also, while the Mets are off purging the Murphys and Justin Turners of the world, the Dodgers are finding them. In addition to Turner, we have also seen Chris Taylor and Max Muncy figure things out in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers are also not afraid to take risks or trust their young players. Gone from the 2015 team are Howie Kendrick, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Jimmy Rollins. Instead, the Dodgers have players like Cody Bellinger.
For the Mets part, well, Adrian Gonzalez was their Opening Day first baseman.
Mostly, the separation has been financial. The Dodgers ownership has been willing and motivated to keep this championship window as open as possible, and they have with the largest payroll in baseball.
The Dodgers are not just a financial juggernaut, but they are also a supremely well run organization. This is a complete opposite of what the Mets have been, and judging from their current GM search, will continue to be.
This is all why the Dodgers are competing for World Series while the Mets are once again also-rans.
Starting with the obvious, as constructed today, the Yankees are a far superior team than the New York Mets. With Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, and Luis Severino, this Yankees team is set up to win 90 plus games a year for the next decade. Given the talent base and how the Yankees are willing to spend, the Yankees should be a fixture in the postseason, much like they were in the late 90s, and that is a prerequisite to winning a World Series.
However, as we saw with this Yankees team for the second straight season, they could not get through the postseason partially because they did not have the ace to help push them through to the World Series.
Last year, it was Justin Verlander, who helped stop the Yankees. In many ways, Verlander has proved to be the Yankees kryptonite. In three different postseasons, Verlander has faced the Yankees, and each time, Verlander’s teams advanced. Last year, Verlander was the ALCS MVP going 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA. What made the issue worse for the Yankees is they did not go out and get an eminently available Verlander.
This year, the Yankees were stopped by Chris Sale. Not only did Sale beat the Yankees in Game 1, but he would stop the Yankees in Game 4 in his one inning of work.
With the Yankees window opening last year, they have failed to get an ace to go up against Verlander, Sale, or even Corey Kluber (who the Yankees beat in the 2017 ALDS). Severino has not yet proven to be that guy. Instead of utilizing Justus Sheffield and some other prospect to acquire that ace, they are hoping that he develops into that front line starter himself.
If neither of those things happen, it is hard to imagine how the Yankees can navigate their way through the American League portion of the postseason each and every year. The Astros and Red Sox have every bit the position player talent the Yankees have, and they also have more starting pitching. To that end, it’s difficult to see how exactly the Yankees win a World Series with this core.
Equally as difficult is seeing how the Mets even make the postseason. While the Mets have talent, they are in a division with the upcoming Braves and Phillies teams. Moreover, the Nationals are always ready, willing, and able to spend in free agency to address the deficiencies on their roster. This creates a real uphill battle for a Mets franchise with ownership which continues to serve as an impediment to building a winner.
And yet, if the Mets ever do get to the postseason, they are a really dangerous team. Back in 2015, we saw what Jacob deGrom can do in the postseason and that was before he emerged as the best pitcher in baseball. Similarly, Noah Syndergaard has shown himself to be a big time postseason pitcher. Aside from his strong 2015 rookie campaign, Syndergaard would go pitch-for-pitch with Madison Bumgarner, the best postseason pitcher of this generation, in the 2016 Wild Card Game. What makes that postseason all the more impressive is the emergence of Zack Wheeler this season.
When you substitute Wheeler for 2015 Matt Harvey, you have the type of pitching rotation which can and should carry a team to the World Series.
When you surround this pitching staff with a young core which includes Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, and Amed Rosario, there is a core of players which can not just make the World Series but win it. So yes, if we are talking about a core of players which can go through the postseason and win the World Series, the Mets have what it takes.
And yet, they don’t have the type of core which can carry them through the regular season. This team is at least one bat short. Maybe two. And that is before you even consider the bullpen.
That’s the real shame of it all. The Yankees have the talent but not the pitching, and that is partially the result of them getting gun shy when it came time to pull the trigger to obtain that ace which can carry a team through the postseason. The Mets have the pitching, and they have that young core, but they have ownership which gets gun shy when it comes time to getting a player they need to win.
In the end, the Mets have a better core of players which can carry you to the World Series, but it doesn’t really matter because unless things change, the Mets will be sitting on the sidelines watching this Yankees core squander away without a legitimate ace.
Perhaps more than any season, there is a sense of sadness which washed upon me when the 2018 season ended. Perhaps, it was because my father is another year older, and I have yet to truly experience the Mets winning the World Series with him. Maybe it is because my son follows the game a little bit more and he is starting to become attached to some players, and those players are up in limbo.
There is the sadness with David Wright leaving. He was the most beloved Mets player in history, and he was arguably the best position player this organization has ever produced. He was a Met for his entire career, and he ended his career the right way – on the field. Unfortunately, that career did not end with him winning a World Series.
Past Wright, there are question marks about some other players. Is this the last time Wilmer Flores ever wore a Mets uniform? Are we just waiting for him to shed tears when he is wearing another team’s uniform? Could we have already seen the last of Travis d’Arnaud? How about Juan Lagares? With him in the last year of his deal, he is certainly more tradeable, and there should be savvy teams lining up to acquire his defense. Is he just destined to go somewhere else where the will be able to finally put it all together? Will a new General Manager come in and opt to start a rebuild that would likely begin with trading Jacob deGrom?
Honestly, will Yoenis Cespedes ever be able to play again? He has only had one of the two heel surgeries he needed. Whenever you see a report on him, no one seems to be able to pinpoint a date he can play next year. At some point, you have to question if he will ever really be able to play. That seems like such a big departure from the larger than life figure he has been since joining the Mets.
Really, when you look around the 2015 Mets team we loved so dearly has been slowly trickling away. Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia were traded away this year. Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, and Curtis Granderson were traded away last season. Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Daniel Murphy are distant memories. Bartolo Colon is off making goofy barbecue ads in Texas. Sandy Alderson, the man who orchestrated it all, “took a leave of absence” because he is battling cancer.
What we have left is good, really good. We have seen Brandon Nimmo be the player the Mets hoped he would be when he was drafted. After concerns about his shoulder, Michael Conforto was once again Michael Conforto in the second half. Amed Rosario figured things out in the second half of the season, and Jeff McNeil seemingly came out of nowhere.
We watched deGrom reach a level we never thought possible making him a sure Cy Young award winner. Zack Wheeler went from enigma to ace. Steven Matz actually made 30 starts. Finally, Noah Syndergaard seemed to return to form as the season drew to a close. This is reminiscent of the pitching of 2015, pitching which led the Mets to a World Series.
Looking at it, the Mets had the best ERA in the majors in the second half (2.97), and they had the best record in the division in the second half (38-30). When you combine the finish with the start, you can see there is a World Series contender somewhere in the fabric of that clubhouse. In order for that to happen, the Wilpons are going to have to go out there and get the pieces necessary to put this team over the top. If they were to do so, it would be the first time since they signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran in 2005, and added Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado the subsequent offseason.
Making bold moves like that to this core WILL put this team over the top, especially since Mickey Callaway and his staff grew during the season and showed they can be a coaching staff who can win you a World Series.
There’s a hesitation there. After Madoff, no Mets fan can really be assured this team is going to make the bold moves they need to take this roster over the top. Whatever hope you had was dashed when Jeff Wilpon told us all it was really Sandy Alderson who refused to spend and limited the size of the analytics department.
Thinking back, you realize this is partially why Wright retired without a ring. Sure, the Shea Stadium days were different. The Mets did add the aforementioned players, and they did make the Johan Santana trade. But after that? Well, it was Madoff and always finding themselves one or two players short. After all, the Mets traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons partially because the team believed Eric Campbell, and his major league minimum salary, was part of the solution.
In the end, this is a really likeable team. Watching Nimmo, Conforto, Rosario, deGrom, Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and the rest of this Mets team, you can’t help but like and root for these guys. They are what makes being a Mets fan great. We don’t want to see deGrom, who looks to take up Wright’s mantle as the next great Mets player, leave Flushing without a ring. That can’t happen.
In the end, the ending of the 2018 season was a sad one. Hopefully, that sadness will quickly subside as the Mets go forth and seize the opportunity that is here. Hopefully, the 2019 season is going to be the year we finally see the Mets win another World Series. I hope so because I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to celebrate it with all of my loved ones.
Perhaps most important is the resurgence of Michael Conforto. Tonight was the latest chapter of the comeback.
The fun part with Conforto now is it doesn’t matter who’s pitching. Left. Right. Conforto is going to get his hits.
A new career high.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2018
Overall, Conforto was 3-for-5 with a run, double, homer, and a career high six RBI. In total, Conforto would drive in six of the Mets nine runs.
In addition to Conforto, Jeff McNeil would have a three game, which is something that is becoming old hat for him. To just put in perspective just how special this is, he’s tied a Wright Mets record:
Jeff McNeil now has 7 3-hit games through the first 52 games of his career. That ties David Wright, who also had 7 3-hit games in his first 52, for the most by a #Mets player through that many games.
— John Edwards (@John_Edwards_) September 18, 2018
All that offense was enough to get Zack Wheeler over a fifth inning blip.
That inning marred what was an otherwise terrific Wheeler start. In fact, all three of the Phillies hits off Wheeler would come in that inning.
Even with him battling through the fifth, Wheeler’s final line was 7.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. He’d get the win in this 9-4 Mets victory.
Wheeler’s MLB best 1.32 second half ERA is still a dominant 1.68 ERA. By all indications, his ERA may stay there as Mickey Callaway suggested this could be Wheeler’s final start.
Considering all the time he’s missed the past few years, that would make sense. Fortunately, for the first time in a long time, he’s heathy. Maybe this is why he’s finally pitching like an ace.
It was supposed to be a doubleheader, but with the rain the best laid plans were washed out. With MLB not looking to schedule a triple-header for the Marlins last series at Citi Field, we waited over five hours for Mets baseball.
Zack Wheeler was worth the wait.
He needed just 35 pitches to get through the first four. With his dominance, he had a chance at The Maddux.
He was in that position partially because he induced Lewis Brinson to hit into an inning ending double play. With that 5-4-3 double play, Wheeler escaped a bases loaded jam.
Astonishingly, with Wheeler only throwing 89 pitches over eight innings, he didn’t get a chance to get the complete game. Paul Sewald would close this one out.
Wheeler’s incredible final line was 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K.
Wheeler got the win because the Mets offense exploded.
.@JeffMcNeil805 can fly.
Not literally. But almost. 🏃🏃🏃 pic.twitter.com/zxjZaFSlgz
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 13, 2018
It was another big game for McNeil. For the third time over the past week, he had a three hit game. Overall, he was 3-for-4 with a run, triple, and three RBI.
Speaking of hot hitters, Amed Rosario absolutely launched a three run homer in the fourth:
.@Amed_Rosario clearly hit the weight room during today's rain delay.
Off the second deck! 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/bPkEgWrhlw
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 13, 2018
Up 6-0, things would get completely out of hand on the sixth. The Marlins played terrible defense (no errors charged), and the Mets sent 11 batters to the plate.
The two big blows of the inning was a Jay Bruce grand slam and a Dom two run homer. All said and done, it was a seven run inning turning this into a 13-0 route.
It was just a brilliant performance by the Mets all around. It was the kind of performances we saw in April. We’re seeing them again now, and on nights like this, we can believe it’ll happen in 2019.
With the way Zack Wheeler has pitched in the second half of the season, you can certainly see him getting some Cy Young votes. With Jacob deGrom being a favorite for the award (or at least among the leaders), we should see two Mets in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting. If this were to happen, it would mark just the fourth time in Mets history this has happened. Can you name the pitchers who received votes the other times this happened? Good luck!
Tonight, the new NFL season officially begins with the Atlanta Falcons taking on the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. With that, for the first time since Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals claimed their first Stanley Cup, Major League Baseball no longer has the stage all to themselves.
That’s a big problem for the New York Mets.
On Sunday, the Mets are going to take on the Philadelphia Phillies at the same time the New York Giants will begin their season at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. With respect to the Giants, they are a team featuring a new head coach, the second overall pick from the draft, and of course, future Hall of Famer Eli Manning.
On Monday, the Sam Darnold Era begins as the Jets travel to Detroit to play the Lions on Monday Night Football. At the same time, the Mets will be hosting the Miami Marlins on Bark at the Park Night.
Certainly, the early NFL season offers optimism for both Jets and Giants fans. It also features young and exciting players who fans hope will serve as the cornerstones of their respective franchises for the next decade.
By the same token, the Mets have decided it was not time to call-up Peter Alonso, and have instead opted to play Jay Bruce at first base. For that matter, the team is not playing Dominic Smith at either first base or left field. Apparently, the team believes fans want to see Austin Jackson play center field over Brandon Nimmo.
That’s the problem with the New York Mets right now. Short of a Jacob deGrom start and possibly a Zack Wheeler start, the Mets are not offering you a real reason to tune into their games. That was one thing during the summer when baseball was the only show in town. However, with the NFL season staring along with your favorite TV shows beginning to roll out their season premieres, the Mets are going to fade further and further away.
Really, short of David Wright making a miraculous comeback, a proposition which seems less and less likely by the day, the Mets are not offering their fans much of a reason to watch.
Clearly, this is something which has been lost on the Mets franchise. It’s not just that they are a bad team who is 13 games under .500. Now, they’re a team overshadowed by the world around them. For the moment, it is something that will affect just September viewership and attendance. However, until the Mets fix something with their team, it is something that is going to plauge their 2019 season and beyond.
Here’s how good Zack Wheeler has been pitching in the second half of the season. Last night, he allowed three runs on three hits while walking two and striking out nine. For him, that now qualifies as a poor start.
The Dodgers were able to score the three runs off of him because they hit two homers. It should come as no surprise one of those homers was by Cody Bellinger, who absolutely owns Wheeler. In fact, Bellinger is 4-for-8 against Wheeler with four homers and nine RBI.
The other homer was in the fourth inning. After Justin Turner hit a comebacker which hit Wheeler in the ribs, Max Muncy would hit a two run homer off of Wheeler. Given how Wheeler was still dealing with the shot to the ribs, you could put a bit of a mental asterisk next to that one, especially when you consider Wheeler would retire eight of the next nine batters he faced.
Even with those homers, the Dodgers could not pull ahead of the Mets.
In the fourth, the Mets finally broke through against Hyun-Jin Ryu. Amed Rosario singled and Jeff McNeil doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs. From that point forward, the Mets would BABIP the heck out of Ryu.
Mets hits tonight with a hit probability <50%:
Flores, 4th inning single: 9%
Nimmo, 5th inning single: 34%
Rosario, 5th inning single: 48%
McNeil, 7th inning single: 13%
— John Edwards (@John_Edwards_) September 6, 2018
Wilmer Flores would hit one back which hit Ryu that allowed him to reach safely and would allow Rosario to score. McNeil would challenge Joc Pederson‘s arm on a Michael Conforto flyball, and he would score because Yasmani Grandal could not hold onto the ball. In an odd official scorer position, Conforto was not given the RBI as it was ruled an error on Grandal.
Part of the key to that play was Flores going to third, which would allow him to score from third on the two out RBI single from Austin Jackson. That was important as Jackson was nailed at second trying to challenge Alex Verdugo‘s arm. Had Flores been at third, it’s very likely he does not score on the play.
Kevin Plawecki led off the fifth with a double, and he moved to third on a Brandon Nimmo bloop hit. After Wheeler struck out, Rosario singled home Plawecki. Later that inning, Flores brought home Nimmo on a ball Enrique Hernandez was not quite tall enough to get. With that, the Mets had a 5-2 lead, and they were in control of the game.
That became a stranglehold with Conforto delivering a seventh inning RBI single, and Ryan Madson throwing a wild pitch to allow McNeil to come home from third.
After 105 pitches, Wheeler was done after seven, and Mickey Callaway brought on Seth Lugo to close out the final two innings. He did just that allowing no hits and striking out a batter. With the win, the Mets have now won consecutive West Coast series, and the team is playing much better baseball of late. They are two games over .500 in the second half.
Game Notes: In his final at-bat ever against the Mets, Chase Utley lined out to Nimmo. So in the end, the dirtiest player alive lined out to the nicest and most genuine player in the majors.
Zack Wheeler was back in San Francisco to pitch against the team who made him the sixth overall pick of the 2009 draft. Like he has to most teams in baseball this year, especially in the second half of the season, Wheeler showed the Giants why he was drafted that high.
Even with him yielding two doubles over the first six innings, the Giants never truly threatened Wheeler. Really, it wasn’t until the third triple of the game that Wheeler faced any real danger.
Brandon Belt would lead off the seventh with a double, and he would move to third on a ground out to shortstop. It was a slow hit ball off the bat of Austin Slater, one which shortstop Jose Reyes made zero attempt to charge. Therefore, even with the ball being hit to Reyes’ right, Belt would be able to advance. This was important as Chris Shaw would hit a fly ball to center that easily scored Belt.
That run caused partially by a lackadaisical play by Reyes would be the dagger in this game despite Wheeler pitching seven innings allowing just the one run on four hits with no walks and nine strikeouts.
The reason why this was a dagger was that no Met other than Jeff McNeil could do anything against Giants starter Andrew Suarez. For his part, Suarez allowed no runs with just two hits, no walks, and five strikeouts.
Of course, it didn’t help that Reyes was starting for the red hot Amed Rosario because Rosario needed an emergency root canal. It also didn’t help Michael Conforto was sitting and Devin Mesoraco was in the lineup as Kevin Plawecki went on paternity leave.
In the top of the eighth, the Mets would get their chance with Brandon Nimmo, who was once again curiously hitting in the bottom of the lineup again, hit a one out double. Slater would have a difficult time fielding the ball in right, but Nimmo was unable to take advantage and get to third as he was already decelerating as he approached second. It wouldn’t matter much as Reyes popped out, and Conforto would ground out to end the inning.
If there was any hopes the Mets would get back into the game, it was all dashed in a horrific bottom of the eighth with the Mets needing four relievers to record three outs. Robert Gsellman did not record an out while allowing a homer and another hit. Daniel Zamora relieved him striking out Joe Panik and Alen Hanson.
Rather than go to the bullpen to face Evan Longoria, Mickey Callaway ordered him intentionally walked to allow Zamora to face Belt. Belt would crush a pitch off the right center field wall which would have been a homer in any other park. At AT&T, it was a triple.
All told, the Mets went from a 1-0 deficit to a 7-0 loss. It was an ugly loss in every way, shape, and form.