The Mets had a rare laugher tonight with the team thrashing Dylan Bundy (7 ER) and the Orioles bullpen to the tune of a 16-5 victory.
🎶 That ball can fly for miles and miles 🎶 pic.twitter.com/mfxfoKh3YY
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 16, 2018
Plawecki was not the only one with a big night. Brandon Nimmo finished a homer short of the cycle going 5-for-5 with three runs, two doubles, triple, hit by pitch, and three RBI.
Todd Frazier had his best day as a Met going 3-for-6 with two runs, a homer, and four RBI.
Austin Jackson was 2-for-4 with two runs, a triple, and two walks.
Overall, every Met in the lineup except Michael Conforto would get a hit me bore the ninth, and even then, Conforto had a walk and run scored. Conforto would correct that by smoking a ball Jonathan Villar couldn’t field.
In the ninth, Wilmer Flores hit a homer to cap off a 2-for-5 night.
In total, every Mets starter reached base at least two times, and everyone but Bautista scored at least one run.
This was more than enough support for Zack Wheeler who was terrific again limiting the Orioles to a run on five hits in five innings.
After that sixth inning outburst, Mickey Callaway did the right thing by pulling Wheeler and going to the bullpen.
Tim Peterson was the one lowlight of the day with him allowing four runs on five hits in his two innings.
Other than that, this was a good day for a Mets team who seemed to spend nine innings taking a season’s worth of frustration out on a very bad Orioles team.
Game Notes: Mets are now 19-19 over their last 38 games.
As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Mets owner Fred Wilpon does not want to hire a younger and more analytics driven executive for two reasons. The first is he feels he will have a harder time connecting with that person. The second and perhaps all the more baffling is the “thought among team officials that perhaps the Mets became too analytics driven in recent seasons under Sandy Alderson’s watch . . . .”
Taking the thought at face value, we really need to question which analytics the Mets are using to inform their decisions.
For starters, look at Asdrubal Cabrera. Everyone knew he was no longer a shortstop, so that left the question over whether he should have been a second or third baseman heading into the 2018 season.
In 2017, Cabrera was a -6 DRS in 274.1 innings at second. That should have come as no surprise as he was a -10 DRS the last time he saw extensive action at second base (2014). Conversely, in his 350.1 innings at third last year, he had a 1 DRS.
Naturally, the Mets went with Cabrera at second this season where he has been an MLB worst -20 DRS. That makes him not just the worst second baseman in all of baseball, it makes him the worst defensive infielder in all of baseball.
Of course, the Mets got there by acquiescing a bit to Cabrera’s preference to play second over third. This was also the result of the team turning down a Paul Sewald for Jason Kipnis swap. That deal was nixed over money.
With respect to Sewald, he was strong when the season began. In April, he had a 1.91 ERA and a 0.805 WHIP. Since that point, Sewald has a 5.73 ERA, a 1.485 WHIP, and multiple demotions to Triple-A.
As for Kipnis, he has struggled this year hitting .226/.313/.363. It should be noted this was mostly due to a horrific April which saw him hit .178/.254/.243. Since that tough start to the season, Kipnis has gotten progressively better. Still, it is difficult to lose sleep over Kipnis even if the rejected trade put Cabrera at second and it led to the Mets signing Todd Frazier, who is hitting .217/.298/.368.
At the time the Mets signed Bruce, they needed a center fielder. The team already had Yoenis Cespedes in left, and once he returned from the disabled list, the team was going to have Michael Conforto in right. Until the time Conforto was ready, the team appeared set with Brandon Nimmo in the short-term.
In 69 games in 2017, Nimmo hit .260/.379/.418. In those games, Nimmo showed himself to be a real candidate for the leadoff spot on a roster without an obvious one, especially in Conforto’s absence. With him making the league minimum and his having shown he could handle three outfield positions, he seemed like an obvious choice for a short term solution and possible someone who could platoon with Juan Lagares in center.
Instead, the Mets went with Bruce for $39 million thereby forcing Conforto to center where he was ill suited. More than that, Bruce was coming off an outlier year in his free agent walk year. Before that 2017 rebound season, Bruce had not had a WAR of at least 1.0 since 2013, and he had just one season over a 100 wRC+ in that same stretch. In response to that one outlier season at the age of 30, the Mets gave Bruce a three year deal.
Still, that may not have been the worst contract handed out by the Mets this past offseason. That honor goes to Jason Vargas.
The Mets gave a 35 year old pitcher a two year $16 million deal to be the team’s fifth starter despite the fact the team had real starting pitching depth. At the time of the signing, the Mets had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, and Corey Oswalt as starting pitching depth.
Instead of using five of them and stashing four of them in Triple-A, the Mets opted to go with Vargas as the fifth starter. Even better, they depleted their starting pitching depth by moving Gsellman and Lugo the to bullpen. Of course, this had the added benefit of saving them money thereby allowing them to sign Anthony Swarzak, a 32 year old reliever with just one good season under his belt.
The Mets were rewarded with the decision to sign Vargas by his going 2-8 with an 8.75 ERA and a 1.838 WHIP. He’s also spent three separate stints on the disabled list.
What’s funny about Vargasis he was signed over the objections of the Mets analytics department. From reports, Vargas was not the only one. Looking at that, you have to question just how anyone associated with the Mets could claim they have become too analytics driven. Really, when you ignore the advice of those hired to provide analytical advice and support, how could you point to them as the problem?
In the end, the problem is the same as it always has been. It’s the Wilpons.
They’re the ones looking for playing time for Jose Reyes at a time when everyone in baseball thinks his career is over. They’re the ones not reinvesting the proceeds from David Wright‘s insurance policy into the team. They’re the ones who have a payroll not commensurate with market size or World Series window. They’re the ones rejecting qualified people for a job because of an 81 year year old’s inability to connect with his employees.
Really, you’re not going to find an analytical basis to defend making a team older, less versatile, more injury prone, and worse defensively.
What you will find is meddlesome ownership who thinks they know better than everyone. That’s why they’re 17 games under .500 with declining attendance and ratings while saying the Yankees financial model is unsustainable at a time the Yankees are heading to the postseason again and the team has the highest valuation of any Major League team.
In the Mets weekend series, they faced off against the Miami Marlins to determine who exactly was the worst team in the National League East. With some guts and guile, the Mets showed it was in fact the Marlins.
In the series, we did see a lot of good from the Mets. Corey Oswalt had another quality start even if he once again sputtered as he navigated the sixth and the third time through the lineup. Noah Syndergaard racked up his eighth win of the year, and Zack Wheeler continued his great pitching winning his fifth straight start.
We also saw Michael Conforto continue this second half resurgence. With his home run yesterday, he’s now hitting .307/.398/.533 with five doubles, four homers, and 11 RBI. If we were to exrapolate those 21 games over a full 162 game season, he would hit 39 doubles and 31 homers. That’s right around the pace he was last year when he suffered that brutal shoulder injury.
While Jacob Rhame took another step back, we saw Drew Smith, Tyler Bashlor, and Bobby Wahl pitch well out of the bullpen. As the season winds to a close, we will have to see that trio get increased chances with the Mets limiting both the appearances and innings of Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, both of whom have been pitching better of late.
Moreover, we are watching Wilmer Flores earn a starting job with the Mets next year. Since taking over the first base job in mid-June, he’s hitting .290/.337/.489 with 14 doubles, seven homers, and 26 RBI. In a real surprise, he is getting stronger as the season progresses.
Still despite all that good, there are so many issues, including but not limited to the Mets having three tight games against a bad Marlins team just to win this series.
We have seen Devin Mesoraco continue to regress with him now having a 64 wRC+ since June 1st. Moreover, he has been one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball with him being in the bottom 15 in the majors in pitch framing. Really, there’s a reason why the Mets are just one game under .500 when he doesn’t catch and 16 games under .500 when he does.
Overall, like we saw on that botched double play on Saturday, the Mets defense continues to be horrendous. Per DRS, at every position but third base and left field, they are in the bottom three defensively in the National League. Up the middle, the Mets are the worst in the majors. That also speaks to just how disappointing Amed Rosario‘s development has been.
That also goes towards the Mets continued employment of Jose Reyes, who is one of the worst players in baseball this year. While his selling point this year was he was going to mentor Rosario, it has been a failure. In almost every areas of Rosario’s game, he is worse.
Really, with the exception of isolated instances like the starting rotation, Flores, and Brandon Nimmo, this team is just worse across the board.
So yes, the Mets beat the Marlins, but in the end, who cares? This continues to be a rudderless bad baseball team.
If you’re looking for reasons to continue watching this Mets team, Zack Wheeler and his emergence has to be near the top of the list.
For those who forget, Wheeler started this season in Triple-A, and he has built his way to arguably being the Mets second best starter. That trek started with a string seven inning performance in Marlins Park in his first MLB start of the season.
Tonight, he had another string seven inning outing at Marlins Park.
For the first four, it appeared he might no-hit a Marlins team who traded Justin Bour earlier in the day. As an aside, the Marlins are money for a better return. What a novel idea.
Martin Prado broke up what could have been the threat of a no-hitter with a fifth inning single. The Marlins got no momentum from that, and Wheeler kept the Marlins off the board for 6.2 innings.
Wheeler got out of the inning unscathed, and he has now pitched at least seven innings in four of his last five starts. He’s also now won five straight starts.
He won tonight due to his dominance and the Mets bats getting going to the tune of six runs on 13 hits.
That lead grew to 4-0 in the sixth in a rally started by a Conforto leadoff walk. After a fielder’s choice, he scored on a Todd Frazier RBI single.
The rallied continued with the Mets eventually loading the bases. Wheeler wouldn’t get the run home leaving it to Amed Rosario to try to get a big two out base hit.
He would deliver hitting it just off of Starlin Castro. Frazier scored easily, and Austin Jackson scored just ahead of Kevin Plawecki getting nailed by Magneuris Sierra as he tried to go from first to third.
After the Rojas seventh inning homer, the Mets got the runs right back. Jackson hit a ground rule double setting up runners at second and third. Plawecki then delivered with a two RBI single.
While Smith has not received much work, he had had finished four of the seven games he’s appeared with no saves.
With the win, the Mets took round one in the battle for the basement of the NL East, which depending on your perspective is a good or bad thing.
Game Recap: With his third inning single, Conforto has now reached safely in his last 24 road games.
Last year, Player’s weekend was a hit as fans got to see their favorite players wear fun jerseys featuring their nicknames on the back of their jerseys. Believe it or not, some of those were nicknames were rejected for various reasons.
For example, Brandon Nimmo wanted to use his Twitter handle, You Found Nimmo, but MLB was afraid of copyright issues. When it came to Kyle Seager, he wanted to go with “Corey’s Better.” With that rejected, he paid homage to his brother Corey Seager by merely noting on his jersey he was “Corey’s Brother.”
Well, the Mets officially approved Player’s Weekend nicknames and jerseys have been released. However, as noted with Nimmo, there were other names the players wanted which were rejected by MLB:
Tyler Bashlor – Mickey, I’m Available To Pitch
Jose Bautista – Trade Value Going, Going, Gone!
Jerry Blevins – One Magic LOOGY
Michael Conforto – Shouldering The Load
Travis d’Arnaud – d’L
Phillip Evans – DFA TBA
Wilmer Flores – 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
Robert Gsellman – Don’t Care What You Think
Austin Jackson – 2019 Opening Day CF
Juan Lagares – Out For The Season
Seth Lugo – Quarterrican (That’s perfection; you don’t mess with that)
Steven Matz – Not So Strong Island
Jeff McNeil – 2B/3B/OF
Devin Mesoraco – Harvey’s Better
Brandon Nimmo – Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Corey Oswalt – Vargas (figured it was the only way he would get a start)
Kevin Plawecki – Plawful
Jose Reyes – Melaza Virus
Amed Rosario – Mentor Wanted
Paul Sewald – AAAAll Star
Dominic Smith – Waist And Future Gone
Drew Smith – Mickey, I’m Available To Pitch (Yes, it’s a repeat of Bashlor. They’re trying to prove a point.)
Anthony Swarzak – Still Just One Good Season
Noah Syndergaard – 60’6″ Away
Jason Vargas – $16 Million Dollar Man
Zack Wheeler – Finally Good
David Wright – Hurts Here Doc
This is exactly the way the Mets are supposed to play things over the final two months of the season. Sure, it’s easy to say that after a 3-0 win, but even if the Mets fell behind or lost the lead, they did he right thing.
Zack Wheeler, who the Mets were right to hold onto at the trade deadline, once again showed the Mets he’s turned a corner.
Over seven shutout innings, Wheeler linter a Braves team who had the third highest batting average in the majors and the fourth most runs in the National League to just three hits and one walk.
Really, Wheeler dominated from the jump with him striking out the side in the first, which would set the tone for a none strike out night. Overall, only one Brave would even reach second against Wheeler.
That was Freddie Freeman with a leadoff double to start the seventh. Wheeler responded by getting three quick outs.
With this not being a Jacob deGrom start, Wheeler would get the run support he would need to get the win.
Overall, McNeil was a perfect 4-for-4 as he raised his batting average from .190 to .320.
The Mets mostly squandered the two on no out situation, but Amed Rosario was still able to get Frazier home on a fielder’s choice to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.
Once again, it was Frazier and McNeil getting things started. They’d follow a Michael Conforto sixth inning leadoff single with consecutive singles to both load the bases and chase Gausman.
Once again, it was an opportunity largely squandered, but the Mets did enough to get a 3-0 lead.
Gsellman for the ninth is an inspired move as it lets you know if he could be part of the later inning bullpen mix.
Well, tonight, Gsellman was up for the challenge much loot McNeil was just for almost the full night.
Overall, the Mets have young players and a chance to play them. For tonight, it worked.
There are many, many reasons to criticize the Mets. Even with the presence of smart baseball people, who have been a part of well-run organizations in their previous stops, the Mets are a mess. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is directly attributable to ownership.
That same ownership has decided that rather than appointing one of their existing assistant general managers to be the interim general manager, they would each role share with them presenting ideas they used to offer to Sandy Alderson directly to Jeff Wilpon. Yes, Jeff Wilpon essentially named himself the general manager.
The end result of that has led to a number of decisions which have made the Mets even more of a laughingstock then they already have been.
The Jeurys Familia trade was widely panned. Making matters worse, we subsequently discovered Will Toffey, the key prospect in the deal not only needs offseason shoulder surgery, but his dad is also friends with J.P. Riccardi. It so happens Riccardi was the pointman for the deal.
We didn’t know that initially because the Mets went into media silence. The reason for that was the team was actively ducking the media over their continued bungling and outright lying in delivering the message about what they knew and didn’t know about Yoenis Cespedes‘ heels.
Consider that over the course of a few days, John Ricco and the Mets went from saying they didn’t know Cespedes needed surgery to saying surgery was a last resort to saying he needed the surgery.
What was even better about all of this was the Mets waited for this noise to clear before calling on Ricco to speak with the media about the Familia trade, a trade which he said Riccardi ran point and that one of the key pieces was the international money which Omar Minaya could utilize well. So basically, the team sent out the one guy of the three to speak on a deal who didn’t work on getting the deal done or who will utilize the assets acquired.
Meanwhile, the Mets continual insistence Jeff McNeil was a second baseman blew up in their faces. Within a week of this proclamation, McNeil would play third in a Triple-A game, and eventually he would be called up to play third base in the majors.
After the trade deadline, the three general managers hopped on a conference call where they told everyone ownership entasked them with being creative and open to all possibilities. That resulted in them getting a poor return for Familia. Worse yet, the team was unable to move Jose Bautista, Jerry Blevins, or Devin Mesoraco despite them being 30 year old veterans on expiring deals.
Better yet, they added to the over 30 mix by signing Austin Jackson on the eve of the trade deadline.
After what we have seen from this front office in a very limited time period, you really trusted them to make major deals on these players. You really thought they were capable of getting the type of return the Rays got for Chris Archer?
Have you been remotely paying attention to anything that has happened over the past two years?
Honestly, how could you want this structure get rid of players who will have a huge market during the Winter Meetings should the Mets eventually decided to tear it all down and rebuild?
That’s just being completely delusional.
Again, the Mets need to be held to task for many things they do. They need to be constantly reminded of their failures and ineptitude.
That said, with those failures and ineptitude, how can we possibly trust them to do anything until they bring in a fresh voice into the organization who knows what he is doing?
While Mets fans understandably liked Asdrubal Cabrera, it is important to note he is an impending free agent who has been the worst defensive second baseman in baseball this year. Couple that with the Mets apparent unwillingness to eat salary in any deal, and it is hard to believe the team would get a significant return for Cabrera.
Well, in what should prove to be quite a surprise, the Mets not only got a good return, they got a far better return for Cabrera than they received for Jeurys Familia.
While an imperfect comparison on many levels, this trade is akin to the Mets obtaining Zack Wheeler from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran. Certainly, it was easy to make this connection seeing both of them pitch yesterday with both of them providing their own run support and giving their team a chance to win.
Now, Beltran is a Hall of Famer, and Wheeler was a former sixth overall pick in the draft. Still, the comparisons of Wheeler to new Met Franklyn Kilome is quite interesting.
Both pitchers were in their early 20s at the time of the trade, and both were on the precipice of Top 100 prospect lists. With respect to both, while they could ramp it up into the upper 90s, and they both had secondary pitch and control issues.
Consider that at the time of the trade, Wheeler was walking 4.8 batters per nine for the Giants’ California (Single-A) affiliate. For his part, Kilome has been walking 4.5 batters per nine for the Phillies Double-A affiliate. Of course, the biggest difference between the two is Wheeler was able to put batters away.
In fact, Wheeler was striking out over ten batters per nine innings. For his part, Kilome has struck out 7.8 batters per nine in his minor league career. This includes a 7.3 K/9 with the Phillies prior to this year.
This is what makes Kilome an interesting prospect. This is a guy with tremendous stuff, who just needs someone to get through to him and unlock that potential. That task is first up to Rumble Ponies pitching coach Frank Viola.
Looking at Kilome’s first start with Binghamton, he walked just one batter in seven innings. It’s possible Viola has already started getting Kilome to make the tweaks he needs. It’s also possible this is a one start blip.
If the Mets get through to Kilome, they have a guy who could be a middle of the rotation starter. Maybe more. If not, they have another late inning bullpen arm who is living in the upper 90s. In either event, that’s not a bad ceiling or floor when you consider the Mets traded away a rental without a true position.
Zack Wheeler took to the mound three years to the date he and Wilmer Flores were almost traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez. While we got to see Flores’ reaction to the trade, we never did quite see Wheeler’s reaction.
At the time, he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery; a result of him being diagnosed with a torn UCL on the eve what would be a magical 2015 season. Wheeler would sit down with Sandy Alderson to tell him he didn’t want to leave. He wanted to be a part of this team and whatever they could do next.
Even in this lost season, Wheeler has consistently maintained he wants to be a Met.
Well, if Wheeler really wants to be a Met, then he needs to stop pitching this well as Major League Baseball heads towards the trade deadline.
Wheeler completed dominated a Pirates team in the thick of the Wild Card race.
Wheeler would put on a show pitching six scoreless against a Pirates team in the Wild Card race. He would pitch six scoreless in an all around dominant effort with him walking out just one batter and striking out seven.
With the Mets giving him Jacob deGrom like run support, Wheeler would take matters into his own hands.
After a Luis Guillorme two out single, Wheeler would double him home to give him a 1-0 lead. This would make the second straight game he has hit a double, which would make him a much hitter than Jose Reyes:
Zack Wheeler has hit a double in back-to-back starts.
Jose Reyes has two doubles since June 26 in 55 at-bats.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) July 29, 2018
In the top of the seventh, Mickey Callaway would have a decision to make. The Mets had runners on second and third with two outs and Wheeler’s spot coming up. Even with Wheeler being one of the better hitters in the lineup, Callaway opted to go with Michael Conforto.
Conforto would not start the game because he jammed his thumb. Even with the jammed thumb, the Pirates were scared enough to intentionally walk him to face Amed Rosario. Rosario didn’t come through, but he Mets bullpen would.
First, Seth Lugo pitched two scoreless before giving the ball to Anthony Swarzak, who converted his second save chance with the Mets. With respect to Swarzak, he’s been much better since Jeurys Familia was traded. There may be any number of factors, including his getting fully healthy and his making adjustments. Whatever the case, he’s looked and been dominant, giving the Mets a real weapon in the ninth inning.
But the story was Wheeler, who for the first time in his career, has won three consecutive starts. In those games, he has a 2.61 ERA, 1.016 WHIP, and a 4.25 K/BB ratio. This has left the Mets with a dilemma. Do you keep him and have him take a step further forward next year, or do you cash in now?
Given how he wants to be here, and how he’s pitching, it may just make sense to keep him.
Game Notes: With the split, this marks the first time the Mets did not lose consecutive series since May 15 – 20 when they split a two game series with the Blue Jays and swept the Diamondbacks.
Today was one of those games where you can see how this Mets team could be really good next year.
Zack Wheeler has clearly turned a corner in his career as evidenced by yet another terrific start tonight.
Through seven innings, he limited the Padres to two earned on four hits and one walk despite striking out just three.
The damage could’ve been worse, but Devin Mesoraco made a heads up play to throw to third on what was an odd decision on replay:
.@Padres challenge call that Manuel Margot is out at home plate in the 3rd; call overturned, runner is safe.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) July 25, 2018
Unlike Jacob deGrom last night, Wheeler was rewarded for his good start because the team scored runs for him.
The driving force of the lineup was once again Michael Conforto, who has been great since the All Star Break.
In the game, Conforto was 2-for-4 with two runs, a homer, and two RBI.
Awesome home run. Very, very sublime. pic.twitter.com/jiQVYjfs8H
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 25, 2018
The first run he scored was in the first. He hit a ball hard to the opposite field. Third baseman Christian Villanueva dove to knock it down, but he had no play on Conforto. Conforto would then score on the ensuing Mesoraco three RBI double.
The first runner who crossed the plate on that double was surprise leadoff hitter Amed Rosario.
Rosario has been slowly improving of late, and tonight was another step in the right direction. Not only did he draw a first inning leadoff walk against Padres starter Eric Lauer, but in his next at-bat, he would hit a triple.
Asdrubal Cabrera brought him home with an RBI single giving the Mets a 6-2 lead.
Even with Wheeler dealing, Conforto mashing, and Rosario setting the table, perhaps the biggest news was Jeff McNeil.
McNeil would finally make his MLB debut in the eighth. He pinch hit for Evans, and he hit the first pitch he saw for a single.
Despite the Mets assertions to the contrary, McNeil stayed in the game to play third where he would catch a pop out to record the final out of the Mets 6-3 win.
So yes, while this has been a dreadful season, the Mets do have the pieces to be a good team next year. We saw a glimpse of that tonight.
Game Notes: Seth Lugo allowed one run over the final two innings to preserve the win. The Mets still have made no GM or owner available to answer questions about Cespedes injury or second opinion. Instead, they let Mickey Callaway answer questions about it in the post-game.