Yamamoto Dodges Mets Best Efforts

The New York Mets did everything they could do to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Everything.

Steve Cohen flew his private jet to meet him in Japan. He hosted him in his home. He also offered him the largest ever contract for a starting pitcher.

12 years. $325 million. Opt out after five years.

Short of hypnosis, the Mets did all they could. They went above where even the New York Yankees were willing to go. They just couldn’t overcome Yamamoto wanting to join Shohei Ohtani.

The Los Angeles Dodgers matched the Mets offer, and now, Yamamoto chose the Dodgers. If the Dodgers didn’t match, or the Mets were given a chance to match, who knows how this ends?

While we can guess, in the end, Yamamoto is a Dodger. Worse yet, the Mets offseason was structured as Yamamoto or bust. The Mets busted.

The question is where do the Mets go from here. There’s mid rotation options like Jordan Montgomery. Blake Snell is also available, but he isn’t an innings eater.

If the Mets want everyone to forget about the failed Yamamoto pursuit, they could give Pete Alonso an extension. Other than that, the fans will be up in arms over this failed pursuit.

They can also do what they were going to do all along. Cohen waited years for David Stearns, and it’s now time to see what he can do.

Whatever he does, he will be doing it without Yamamoto. Maybe that’s a good thing considering that cost and complete and utter lack of MLB experience.

Yes, that’s sour grapes.

That doesn’t mean the Mets can’t contend. There are still players here. An 84 sim Arizona Diamondbacks team went to the World Series. Just get in, and anything is possible.

That all said, the Mets did all they could. Doesn’t matter. Yamamoto is a Dodger.

Francisco Lindor Well Worth His Comtract

Want to know the quickest way to find out someone knows nothing about baseball? Let them tell you Francisco Lindor isn’t worth his contract.

When Steve Cohen officially took over as New York Mets owner, he quickly announced to the world the days of the Wilpons was over. He did that by not only authorizing the trade for Lindor, but also by establishing a personal relationship with the player.

This wasn’t Curtis Granderson and salmon. It was Lindor invited to Cohen’s home to have dinner with his family. Then, the mega deal came.

10 years. $341 million.

The contract was a statement. It’s been a constant talking point. It’s a lightning rod for a Mets team who has underperformed what we expected them to do when Cohen took over.

Make no mistake the contract is not the reason for the Mets relative struggles. It’s hasn’t stopped Cohen from spending. Moreover, Lindor has been great.

Since coming to the Mets, Lindor has an 18.1 WAR, 119 wRC+, and a 21 OAA. People just don’t understand how great these numbers are.

By WAR, Lindor is the 8th best player in all of baseball since joining the Mets. His wRC+ is tied for 36th overall and third among shortstops. His OAA is the third best and second among shortstops.

Lindor is a top 10 player in baseball. At worst, he’s a top two shortstop. He plays everyday giving the Mets a Gold Glove at short a with 30/30 caliber offensive threat.

He’s giving the Mets what Carlos Beltran and David Wright once did. Like with Beltran, he had a slow start to his Mets career before becoming that superstar player forever judged by a massive contract and early animosity with the fans.

With Lindor, it was him and Javier Báez and the thumbs down. For Beltran, it was poor reaction to the booing and the initial unwillingness to answer the curtain calls.

Despite the early difficulties, Lindor has played like a future Hall of Famer with the Mets. He’s been a leader and a superstar. He’s been worth every penny.

When Lindor signed his deal, 1.0 WAR was worth about $9.5 million. At an 18.1 WAR, Lindor has been worth $171.95 million. Through the end of this year, he will be paid $126.4.

That means he’s provided the additional value of a player who has provided a 4.4 WAR per year. That’s essentially what Pete Alonso has provided the Mets in his career.

Think about that for a moment. Lindor providing production at a level equivalent to his play and Alonso’s. He’s providing value equivalent to TWO superstar players.

And yet, somehow, people want to question whether he’s worth the money?!?!?! If you’re paying attention, and actually understand the dynamics, he’s been worth more than he’s being paid.

Lindor is a superstar. He’s a future Hall of Famer. His 12 will be retired by the Mets, and he will have a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. He’s been worth far more money than the Mets have paid him, and that will likely remain the case throughout his Mets career.

Pete Alonso Making Mets Decision Easy

In the ninth inning of the All-Star Game, Pete Alonso pinch hit for Freddie Freeman to lead off the ninth inning with the National League down by two runs. With Freeman being a Mets killer and Alonso’s struggles, most Mets fans chuckled at the decision.

Of course, we know it’s about everyone playing. Long ago, the All-Star Game went from competitive to participation trophy. Still, the juxtaposition was notable for Mets fans.

By most measures, this appears to be a career worst year for Alonso (COVID season being an exception for a litany of reasons). Right now, Alonso is on pace for a career worst slugging, OPS, and wRC+.

Notably, he’s well on pace for a career low in homers. That is correlating with more doubles. This isn’t Alonso legging out extra base hits, but more likely, a diminution in power.

His 11.7 barrel% is a career worst. The 88.3 average exit velocity is a career worst, and more alarmingly, this would mark a third successive season Alonso has seen his exit velocity dip.

Looking at the “clutch” stats, he’s doing most of his damage when the game is out of reach. When the score is within three runs, his stats are abysmal. It gets to the point where you don’t expect him to deliver in the big spot anymore.

Of course, not all of that is fair to Alonso. Clutch stats vary year-to-year. With the season teetering early and Gary Cohen pondering if this was already the low point of a lost season, he hit a huge homer to deliver the Mets first win of the season.

Fact is, we’ve seen many big moments from Alonso over his Mets career. The question is will there be more in the ensuing seasons.

This is partially a question because Alonso turned down a seven year $158 million extension offer. For a point of reference, this was higher AAV than the Atlanta Braves signed Matt Olson, who is a superior first baseman.

Whatever the reason, Scott Boras or not, Alonso believed he deserved more. Watching him this season, it’s difficult to imagine he even matches the offer the Mets once gave him.

Keep in mind, that was when Billy Eppler was the GM. Eppler is now out, and David Stearns is in charge. Stearns’ appetite to keep Alonso may motivated be the same. That does double with Juan Soto hitting the free agent market.

Free agent history is replete with massive mistakes for deals with one dimensional slugging first basemen. Ask the Philadelphia Phillies about the Ryan Howard deal, or the Baltimore Orioles about Chris Davis.

It’s very likely we already saw the best of Alonso. Truth be told, with his -6 OAA, Mark Vientos is already a better option at first. At the moment, Vientos is also a better hitter with a brighter future. Keep in mind, Vientos is a bad third baseman, and he needs to move across the diamond.

In the end, seeing Alonso’s decline and Vientos’ rise, the Mets would almost be foolish to extend Alonso at this point. That goes double with the pending free agent class. In reality, such an extension would be purely sentimental.

Fortunately for Alonso, he has the second half where he can show the Mets he’s the guy who can hit 500 homers in Queens. He’s historically been a second half player, and the Mets need him to be that to lead them to the postseason.

However, if we see more of the same of the 2024 Alonso, this will unfortunately be his last season as a Met. So far, he’s made that an easy decision for Stearns. It’s time for him to make it a difficult decision.

Home Run Derby Too Deep Into The Night

In the (again) revamped Home Run Derby, Bobby Witt, Jr. came just short in his attempts to tie Teoscar Hernandez in the final rounds. It was great drama for what aspires to be a fun event. In turn, it aspires to draw fans to baseball.

In that, it failed . . . again.

The event had a listed start time of 8:00 P.M., but that’s when the unnecessary pomp and circumstance began. We should’ve known we were in for it when Ingrid Andress did her best Roseanne Barr or Carl Lewis impersonation performing the National Anthem.

It’s summer vacation, so I made a deal with the boys they can stay up for as long as Pete Alonso was in the event. Alonso didn’t get very far, so I relented and let them stay up longer.

And longer.

And longer.

By the time Witt’s last ball hit the base of the wall, it was 10:57 PM EST. Let’s face it. Most kids were in bed long ago, and even the baseball crazy dads had to eventually relent and send the kids to bed.

We’re constantly asking what can baseball do to attract a younger generation. Baseball fans are older, and Major League Baseball is looking for ways to attract younger fans.

This SHOULD be the perfect event. Kids LOVE stars. They love homers. This should be the event that captivates the young fan drawing them to the All-Star Game and the rest of the season.

That’s not happening at 10:57 PM. Instead, they wake up the next day. Check the iPad and move on with their day. There’s no live or die with the event or the sport. That was lost hours ago.

There’s a number of tweaks that could be addressed. The bonus round was superfluous and made the event drag. They could get rid of human garbage like Marcel Ozuna. Mostly, they need to find out a way to make this end at a more kid friendly time.

Dads have no issue letting kids stay up for the big sport event. I’ll never forget staying up to see Gene Larkin hit a game winning fly to left off Alejandro Peña scoring Dan Gladden.

The Home Run Derby certainly isn’t the World Series. Sadly, an event lacking Aaron Judge and most of baseball’s biggest stars makes this just a lesser event. Having Ken Griffey, Jr. there was a reminder of how big an event this once was (of course, Griffey was also the one who wanted out of the event).

Really, baseball is close to getting back to that point. It’s a tweak here. Finding better ways to get the stars (hat tip to Alonso and Jose Ramirez for participating). Whatever they do next, they have to make sure the event ends before 10:57 PM.

Once that happens, the younger fans can stay tuned in longer, and from there, new fans are born (or the current fans become bigger fans). As they tweak the rules to this event seemingly every year, hopefully, next year, they’ll find the right formula.

Shohei Ohtani Making Mistake

According to various reports, the New York Mets are out on Shohei Ohtani. The Mets are not at fault here.

The fact of the matter is Ohtani doesn’t want to come to New York. He doesn’t want the media attention and responsibility that comes along with New York.

Certainly, Ohtani has spent his entire life in the limelight. He gets more attention than just about any baseball player. He understands the responsibilities that comes with being the best player in the game.

And yet, he’s being a bit short-sighted here, and thus, is making a mistake.

Frankly, the Mets history is replete with players who didn’t want to deal with New York. Even worse, it’s full of players who just don’t want the Mets.

However, for the most part, when they come here, they love it here.

The classic example was Keith Hernandez. He was devastated about the trade to the Mets. He was persuaded to stay, and it led to his being a beloved player with his number retired.

Time and again, Darryl Strawberry has said he regrets leaving the Mets. Players like Cliff Floyd and Billy Wagner were at one point skeptical of being a Met only to sign in free agents and cherish being a part of this team.

Mike Piazza was shockingly traded to the Mets. Even more of a shock, he’d get booed by the fans. Despite that, he signed a deal on the eve of free agency, became one of the most beloved players, and dons a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

There was Curtis Granderson who came to the Mets in free agency after his New York Yankees tenure. He talked about how he heard Mets fans were real fans and later said Mets fans were louder.

Even a player like Carlos Beltran keeps finding his way back to the Mets. He didn’t initially want to come. The Wilpons made him want to leave, and yet he’s returned twice.

Point is there’s something special about being a Met. Even the most reluctant end up loving the experience and want to forever be a part of the franchise.

Ohtani is passing on that partially because he doesn’t want the New York media scrutiny and attention. Being fair here, that’s about to follow him anywhere he goes.

He’s also missing out on a city that would allow him to live somewhat in obscurity. After all, this is a city where Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino live. Harry Potter lives there. Hell, Spike Lee not only lives there, but he’s at every New York Knicks game.

New York comes with attention, but it also allows for a somewhat normal life. Being fair, Ohtani gets the same with Los Angeles.

With the Mets, Ohtani would get Steve Cohen who is not afraid to spend. He’s also an owner who wants his players to feel welcome and be like family.

There’s an adoring fanbase desperate to embrace him.

That’s not to say the Mets are the best fit for Ohtani. In the end, only Ohtani can figure that out for himself. To some degree, he has and is nearing a decision.

It’s just unfortunate he’s ruling out a team that could change his life for the better. Yes, the Mets need Ohtani, and he doesn’t need the Mets. That still doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a great experience for him.

In the end, Ohtani should’ve given it more of a chance, and that is mostly why he’s making a mistake.

David Stearns Curious Start With Severino, Wendle

David Stearns made his first real foray into free agency signing RHP Luis Severino and INF Joey Wendle. These were curious moves to say the least.

Severino, 29, was dreadful last season, and he really hasn’t returned to his All-Star form after his 2020 Tommy John surgery. That said, there was hope in 2022.

In 2022, he was 7-3 with a 3.18 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and a 9.9 K/9. Over his 19 starts, he had a 124 ERA+ and a 3.70 FIP.

Last year was a disaster. He had a 65 ERA+ and a 6.14 FIP. The caveat is he dealt with injuries which likely impacted his performance.

On that, Severino dealt with a lat strain in 2022 and an oblique in 2023. As we saw with Max Scherzer, the Mets struggled to deal with these types of pitcher injuries the past few years.

All that said, one year $13 million is a worthwhile gamble. That goes double with Jeremy Hefner as pitching coach and Stearns ability to build a pitching staff.

With Severino slotted for the back of the rotation, this makes sense. It makes more sense with the Mets needing to completely build a rotation.

Where things go awry is Wendle.

Wendle is coming off a year where he had a 47 wRC+ and a -3 OAA. He turns 34 in April, and unsurprisingly, he’s past his prime and in decline.

His wRC+ declined four straight years. The OAA dropped three straight years. He had seen his sprint speed drop three straight years before marginally rebounding last year.

Maybe he rebounds defensively, but he’s also going to be 34. He’s also literally slowing down If you’re betting on a defensive bounce back from a player, Luis Guillorme was a better bet.

However, the Mets non-tendered Guillorme. They then gave Wendle $2 million. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s a roster spot guaranteed to a player who should’ve been a minor league signing.

The hope is Wendle NEVER plays. The same would’ve been true if Guillorme stayed.

Ideally, Ronny Mauricio is the everyday second or third baseman. Jeff McNeil returns well from Tommy John. Brett Baty, Mark Vientos, or Mauricio are the answer at third.

Of course, it’s plausible all of the above fails. Also, let’s never speak of Francisco Lindor getting injured. Taking all that into account, Wendle is not the answer. He can never be the answer.

Whatever the case, it’s still early with plenty of difference making players available. We should wait to see the entire picture come to focus before fully judging even with this being an unspectacular and curious start.

Mets Must Bring Back Willie Randolph

One thing Steve Cohen has purported to try to do is to right a lot of the existing wrongs with the New York Mets. The most classic example was his deciding to retire Willie Mays‘ number with the franchise even if that decision was rather dubious (much like Casey Stengel‘s was).

Put another way, he is looking to change the karma of the Mets. Seeing what M. Donald Grant and the Wilpons did, there is a lot to undo here.

One of the worst days in the history of the franchise was the firing of Willie Randolph. At the time, the fanbase was split over whether or not Randolph should be fired with a majority likely calling for the termination in the aftermath of the collapse.

There were no Mets fans who were happy with the classless manner it was handled. Randolph was fired one game into a west coast trip and replaced by the backstabbing Jerry Manuel. Making the bizarre decision even worse was the fact Randolph was fired after a Mets win.

Parenthetically here, Manuel would guide the 2008 Mets to their own collapse. Worse yet, he did it as the Mets were closing Shea Stadium putting a damper on the beautiful and touching ceremony to close the ballpark. Naturally, in true Wilpon fashion, Manuel was rewarded for his collapse.

Understandably, Randolph did not handle the firing well. He initially made overtures the firing was racially motivated, and he would back off the statements. Unfortunately, Randolph would never get another opportunity to manage a major league team for the rest of his career.

That was a shame because Randolph was a good manager, and he was one ahead of his time.

He paired with Rick Peterson to be at least a decade ahead in terms of bullpen usage. As a manager with limited starters, he did not allow John Maine, Oliver Perez, Steve Trachsel, etc. to falter. Rather, he turned to his bullpen, the strength of his pitching staff, to carry the team through games.

We saw his impact on developing David Wright and Jose Reyes. Wright became a better defender who utilized his base running better. Reyes developed an idea of the strike zone and became an All-Star who didn’t swing at literally every single pitch.

He has dealt with the New York media more than anyone. He is a Mets fan at heart. We’ve seen how his knowledge of the game can help players, and now, the Mets have hired Carlos Mendoza, who needs Randolph’s guidance on the bench.

Mendoza talked about how Randolph has been a major influence, and it began talk of Randolph becoming the Mets bench coach. Naturally, that was met well here as I have made the case Randolph should get another opportunity to manage and that the Mets should look to bring him back in this very role.

The timing is right, and Mendoza seems to want Randolph. The Mets can build a terrific coaching staff, and at the same time, Cohen has the opportunity to undo one of the worst things the Wilpons did during their ownership.

Randolph should be brought back by the Mets, and they can let him help Mendoza lead the Mets to their first World Series since 1986.

 

Mets Shockingly Hire Carlos Mendoza

The expectations were once David Stearns came to the New York Mets the team was going to hire Craig Counsell to be their next manager. That seemed all the more to be the case when the main competition seemed likely to come from the Houston Astros, who didn’t seem as serious about him as the Mets were.

Of course, we now know the Chicago Cubs gave Counsell exactly what the Mets could offer – a large market and a big contract. However, Chicago is closer to home for Counsell, and it doesn’t come with the issues presented by the New York media, who have sometimes been all too happy to run managers out of town.

This is a situation somewhat similar to what we saw with Steve Kerr. He was practically hired to coach the New York Knicks until he wasn’t. Golden State had all of what New York had to offer without the media or front office issues. For the Mets, the front office issues aren’t present.

With Counsell taking the surprise offer from a Cubs team who had not fired David Ross as their manager, the Mets were left looking to hire someone else. Because the Mets did their due diligence, and didn’t just go through the process to hire Counsell, they were able to quickly pivot to Carlos Mendoza.

At this point, we should remember Stearns was entasked with hiring a manager. Not with hiring Counsell, but with hiring a manager. He did that with Mendoza.

The reviews on this hire are all over the place, but that is partially the result of this shocking nature of the turn of events. You’ll see the loudmouths and naysayers killing the decision. The sycophants and optimists love the move.

In reality, no one can really know what to make of this decision.

On the bright side, it’s not Buck Showalter, who was a mediocre manager who fought against the modern game. From here, we don’t know if Mendoza will be Luis Rojas or Kevin Cash. With Rojas and Cash, we see what separated them was the front office.

Rojas was neutered from the start in the wake of the rash Carlos Beltran firing. Rojas was handed scripts from which he couldn’t deviate. In essence, he was never truly allowed to manage, and he became the fall guy for a poorly led and frankly clueless front office.

Cash has succeeded with an exceptionally run Tampa Bay Rays organization. They gave him what he needed to succeed, and to his credit he has. In essence, this means Stearns has to make good on this hire.

It is incumbent on Stearns to first give Mendoza the staff and data to be successful. More importantly, Stearns has to build the right roster. If he does that, we can the strengths and reputation Mendoza had lead to him being a successful Mets manager.

If that is the case, we can see him quickly in the postseason like Willie Randolph (a good name to throw in here for bench coach) did with the Mets. From what we saw in Milwaukee, we can and should expect that. After all, Counsell was a losing manager before he and Stearns turned things around there.

Mets Should Bring Back Seth Lugo

The New York Mets were always in a predicament with Seth Lugo. Lugo wanted to start, but he proved to be far too valuable of a reliever. In fact, there was a time you could argue he was the best reliever in all of baseball.

With the Mets controlling his rights for years, Lugo had to sit and wait for his chance to start again. He got that with the San Diego Padres. He signed a one year deal worth $7.5 million with a $7.5 million option for 2024, which he turned down.

Lugo bet on himself, and he won the bet. In 26 starts, he was 8-7 with a 3.57 ERA, 1.203 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, and an 8.6 K/9. He averaged 5.2 innings per start. He failed to pitch five innings four times, and he came within one out of having a complete game in his last start of the season.

From an advanced stats perspective, he had a 1.8 WAR, 115 ERA+, and a 3.83 FIP. Per Baseball Savant, his fastball was great, and his curveball spin rate remained off the charts. By and large, he was a very effective pitcher.

Digging deeper, we saw he had a .298 BABIP. That’s right in line with career averages and with league averages, so we should not anticipate regression. The same goes for his LOB%. In essence, with Lugo, with the possible exception of age, we should not see regression.

We also know Lugo has the ability to pitch in New York. He arrived in 2016, and he was great down the stretch for a team that made a near miracle run to the postseason. He pitched three days in the row for the first time in his career in the 2022 Wild Card Series, and he was again fantastic.

The moment and the market does not overwhelm Lugo. Rather, he thrives in those situations. That is always of the utmost importance for the Mets.

That goes double for a Mets team looking to rebuild their rotation. So far, they only have Kodai Senga and José Quintana lined up for the rotation next year while they debate what to do with David Peterson and Tylor Megill.

The Mets need dependable starters and pitching depth. Bringing Lugo back does that. If he had enough innings to qualify, he would have ranked in the top 25 in FIP making him a top of the rotation starter in this league. Ideally, the Mets would be bringing him aboard to pitch at the back-end thereby further strengthening their rotation.

When we look forward, Lugo can then be redeployed in the bullpen come the postseason. With that, you get the best of both worlds. You get Lugo being an effective starter, and then you get to see him pull off what Andrew Miller did in 2016. Put another way, Lugo significantly strengthens the Mets chances of winning the World Series.

In the end, there may be better options available. Lugo may want to look elsewhere. However, in the end bringing Lugo back to start for the Mets advances their chances of winning a World Series more than many of the other starters on the free agent market.

Congratulations World Series Champion Jacob deGrom

When Jacob deGrom signed with the Texas Rangers, he spoke of wanting to go there to win a World Series. There were many who scoffed at him, but in the end deGrom was right.

We should have seen it coming. Part of the reason is the Rangers hired Bruce Bochy, who is one of the best to ever do it. There are several others like World Series MVP Corey Seager.

For deGrom’s part, he lasted six starts with the Rangers. In those six starts, he was dominant, and he again looked like the best pitcher in baseball. However, he would be done by the end of April as he needed to have a second Tommy John surgery.

As baseball fans, we were all robbed of seeing deGrom pitch this season. That goes double for the postseason where he has been truly special. In his career, deGrom had many breakout moments, but we may not see anything like what he did in the 2015 postseason for some time.

To some, it may seem like deGrom didn’t really earn a ring. We’ve heard chatter that he shouldn’t even be considered a World Series champion. People can say all they want, but it did mean something to deGrom.

deGrom was on the field celebrating with his team. The moment was of such importance he was standing out there with his family. He celebrated with the team in the clubhouse. Like it or not, he was a part of this Rangers team, and he celebrated that win.

If it means something to deGrom, there’s no reason to knock it. Instead, we should congratulate him, hope he can return to the mound, and potentially lead the Rangers back to this place (not at the expense of the Mets). Next time, let’s hope he’s more than a clubhouse leader.

In the end, deGrom celebrated that World Series. Because it meant something to him, we should congratulate him. After all he’s done in his career, he earned the moment and the respect of Mets fans everywhere.