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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Flippin’ Bats Podcast (@FlippinBatsPod) November 2, 2023
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.
The Texas Rangers are on the verge of winning the World Series. Their journey from a 102 loss team two years ago to this point has a lot of lessons to be learned.
For starters, it is to give the right players big deals. The Rangers certainly do not regret the Corey Seager contract. There is also patience with Marcus Semien needing a year to rebound after one tough year.
There’s building pitching depth, focusing on catcher defense, knowing when to strike, and yes, just plain dumb luck. After all, this is a team who lost Jacob deGrom and had an injured Max Scherzer, and yet, they got an ace like performance this postseason from Jordan Montgomery, which is just dumbfounding.
Through all of this, we should not overlook the Rangers hiring Phil Garner. Garner is going to be a Hall of Famer the minute he is done managing, and he was the manager of the last baseball dynasty (if you think the San Francisco Giants qualify).
Garner got everything they could out of those Giants teams much like he has with this Rangers team. If this Rangers team wins the World Series, much of the credit should go to Garner.
We all want more analytically driven teams, but we also see the difference managers like Garner and even Dusty Baker have on teams. Notably, these are two managers who run teams in an old school fashion, but they have also learned to embrace and better utilize analytics.
Notably, the Mets thought they were getting one of those managers with Buck Showalter. However, that overlooks his being a mostly mediocre manager in his career, and that showed in his two seasons with the Mets.
Right now, there is a truly great manager in Craig Counsell available. Make no mistake, he has not had great teams with the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite that, he has not had a losing season (in a 162 game season) over his last five. He’s made the postseason in three out of the last four years.
This is the manager the Mets need. He gets the most out of the roster. Even better, he works well with David Stearns. In fact, Counsell is the only manager Stearns has ever had. The duo have worked together to do great things in Milwaukee.
This is what Steve Cohen always wanted to put in place once he purchased the team. Now, he just needs to convince Counsell to forgo potential offers from the Cleveland Guardians, Houston Astros, and yes, the Brewers. Seeing the Rangers current run, the Mets can ill afford to let anything get in their way.
From a New York Mets perspective, signing Max Scherzer was a good move for the organization. He was a very good pitcher and team leader for a team that won 101 games. He was not as good in 2023, but the Mets were able to trade him to the Texas Rangers for top prospect Luisangel Acuña.
The positive impact of Scherzer is going to hopefully last for many seasons to come. When you sign a free agent, especially an ace to a lucrative contract, that is always the goal. Of course, this is not how the Mets originally intended it to work, but it worked nevertheless.
For the Texas Rangers, the value of Scherzer is solely wrapped up in his ability to get them the first World Series in team history. So far, Scherzer hasn’t delivered on that promise, and it has been for the same reasons that marred part of his Mets career.
Scherzer was good enough in the regular season for the Rangers. Over eight starts, he was 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA (140 ERA+), but he would go on the IL with a strain of his right teres major muscle. That kept him out of the Wild Card Series and ALDS.
Scherzer returned for Game 3 of the ALCS. The Rangers took the first two on the road, and Scherzer was on the mound with a chance to effectively end the series. Instead, Scherzer let the Houston Astros back into the series,
He allowed five earned over four innings. He did get through the first unscathed, but he loaded the bases in the second. He’d throw a wild pitch and then allow a two run RBI single to Martin Maldonado (a 66 OPS+ hitter). He then allowed runs in each of the subsequent two innings before having to be removed from the game after just 63 pitches.
This wasn’t as bad as his NL Wild Card Series start for the Mets where he allowed seven runs over 4.2 innings, but it was bad. Truth be told, for as great as Scherzer is, he has not really been a big time postseason starter.
That said, he has had some big time starts. If he was one in Game 7, the Rangers win the pennant. If not, Rangers fans are left where Mets fans were in 2023 wondering if the future Hall of Fame ace cost them their chance of winning a World Series.
For the Rangers organization, the wisdom of trading Acuña for Scherzer will forever be judged by this moment. If he wins, the Rangers won the trade (that is not to say the Mets lost). If he loses, then, the trade may forever be known as folly. There is a less interesting gray zone.
In the end, this isn’t the biggest start of Scherzer’s career. However, it just might be the last big start of his storied career. With that, this start means everything for him. Perhaps, it means more for the entire Rangers organization.
Back in 1998, Nelson Doubleday went down the hall and told Fred Wilpon the New York Mets were going to go out and get Mike Piazza. When Wilpon brought up the injured Todd Hundley (lost for most of that year), Doubleday said they were getting Piazza.
That was the way it was with Doubleday. He made sure the Mets went out and got the best players. He was in charge when they got Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. Sure, it led to disaster with Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman, Eddie Murray, and Bret Saberhagen, but the team was always trying to bring in the best players.
Being fair to the Wilpons here, they did learn their lesson after they let Mike Hampton walk in free agency, and the team refused to go out and get Alex Rodriguez. When that 2000 pennant winner blew up with those decisions, they went out and got Omar Minaya and pivoted.
When Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez were free agents, Minaya made sure they were Mets. Then, the Madoff scandal happened, and the Mets would not bet the Mets again until Steve Cohen took over the franchise.
When the Wilpons were faced with having to sell, they hired Brodie Van Wagenen to completely mortgage the future and try to win one last World Series before they had to hand the franchise to someone else. Their big move and big salary they took on was Robinson Cano.
That was partially because Cano wanted to come back to New York, and Van Wagenen was doing a favor to his former client. It also helped the Seattle Mariners were eating money on the contract regardless of whether or not Cano was eligible to play.
That same offseason, Bryce Harper was a free agent. Harper was a player who belonged on the biggest stage. Harper loved the Mets pitching and was highly complimentary of them during the 2018 All-Star Game:
For a player that wanted to win, the Mets would have been in the conversation if the team pursued him. Instead, the Mets were set with Cano, and then they tried to sell us having no $30 million players is the same thing as having two.
With that, Harper went to the Philadelphia Phillies with him really having no other realistic suitors. Since that time, he has won the 2021 NL MVP and 2022 NLCS MVP. He has completely altered the trajectory of the Phillies franchise who is in consecutive NLCSs.
Helping Harper and the Phillies get there is Zack Wheeler. Van Wagenen tried to sell us they replaced Wheeler in the rotation with Marcus Stroman despite both pitching in the same rotation in 2019. He then went on to tell everyone Wheeler was only good for two halves of his entire career despite his being the best free agent starter on the market.
Wheeler asked the Mets to stay after he was almost traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. He asked to stay for less when he hit free agency. He didn’t want to uproot his New Jersey family making it between the Mets and Phillies for him. The Mets didn’t want him. Instead, we got Rick Porcello.
Wheeler has been a Cy Young caliber pitcher with the Phillies. He has been a postseason ace. With Harper, he has the Phillies back in the NLCS.
This never should have happened. This was Wilpon and Van Wagenen incompetence. Fortunately now, the Mets have an owner that is not going to let this type of nonsense happen again.