Francisco Álvarez entered the 2023 season as the catcher of the future. Before Memorial Day, Álvarez has established himself as the catcher of the present.
He’s been great defensively, which has been a very pleasant surprise. His bat is coming around, and over the past month, he’s been the second best hitting catcher in the game.
Keep in mind, he’s just scratching the surface. He’s 21, and he has a potential superstar career ahead of him. When players like these “arrive,” organizations just hand them the keys.
To some degree, this does raise some questions as to how the New York Mets handle their catching situation. At the moment, they’re all over-blown.
We don’t know if Gary Sánchez will ever hit in the majors again. We also haven’t really seen anything to suggest he can catch at the Major League level.
Sánchez is a back-up catcher, DH, and/or power bat off the bench. In reality he’s the later two and more of a complication for Mark Vientos.
Tomás Nido is a defensive back-up. He’s not starting for anyone or pushing the future of your franchise back to Double-A. He’s needed and important but nowhere near indispensable.
The “complication” is really Omar Narváez. However, much of this is overblown.
First and foremost, Narváez was moved to the 60 day IL. He’s not yet begun a rehab assignment. Although, that should be happening within the next few weeks.
Narváez signed the deal with the Mets knowing Álvarez existed. He signed a deal with a player option for 2024.
Essentially, Narváez signed in hoping he could keep Álvarez in the minors. In the event he couldn’t, he has a built-in escape clause. Put another way, he knew the current situation could well happen, and he was prepared.
That does not mean he will be happy or accept it. That’s his prerogative, and no one can blame him for being upset for losing his job due to injury.
That said, Álvarez is flat out better than him at the moment. Álvarez is going to get a lot better too.
However, Álvarez has never caught more than 81 games in a season. He’s currently 39% of the way towards his career high in games caught.
As a result, we should expect a rookie wall. There will be fatigue. There may be a need to ease up on the amount of games he catches per week.
Obviously, the Mets will want to DH him those days. Again, that’s a complication for Vientos. It will be one for Daniel Vogelbach and Sánchez as well.
It’s also an opportunity to get Narváez into more games. It can keep him happy, and it can allow the Mets to get the most from him and Álvarez.
Of course, for that to be the situation, Narváez has to return from his IL stint. He needs to be productive and force the issue. Put another way, the Mets can kick the can down the road for now.
While that happens, Billy Eppler needs to be active. It’s obvious he needs to have a plan for what to do with the DHs because Álvarez is here to stay and needs a place to play.
The New York Mets are making the right move calling up Gary Sánchez. We know Sánchez has the ability to have a game changing type of bat, and he has the type of power the Mets are trying to add to the roster.
Sánchez had an opt out date fast approaching. It could be a mix of small sample sizes, good luck, and some adjustments, but Sánchez has been raking in Triple-A Syracuse. The Mets should get a look at Sánchez at the Major League level before letting another team benefit from the risk and work the Mets took on signing Sánchez to a minor league deal.
While a smart decision, it comes with serious risk given who is in charge of the Mets.
Buck Showalter has already given Mets fans reason to be leery on his handling with young players. Mark Vientos hit a big home run, and he sat the next day in favor of Tommy Pham and Daniel Vogelbach, two players whose failures necessitated Vientos’ promotion to the majors.
Based on Showalter’s comments, it seems he may be leaning towards a third base platoon between Vientos and Brett Baty. Baty just escaped one with Eduardo Escobar, but because Showalter is reticent to use his young players over his veterans, it appears two players who should be together in the starting lineup are now going to battle for one spot.
That brings us back to Francisco Álvarez.
When Omar Narváez went down with injury, Álvarez was called up to the majors. Prior to this moment, the Mets always said once Álvarez is called up, he is going to be the primary catcher. Instead, Showalter declared Tomás Nido would start over Álvarez.
It literally took Nido developing an eye issue causing his ineffectiveness for Álvarez to get the starting job he should have had. That was the organizational plan, but on his own volition, Showalter abandoned it.
Looking at Álvarez now, he is an excellent defensive catcher. He just hit a huge homer. Over the past 21 games, he has hit four homers, an .807 OPS, and a 128 wRC+. That would make him one of the Mets best hitters over this stretch, so naturally, he can’t bat anything other than ninth in this lineup.
Now, Álvarez sitting in the series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays was overblown. He’s a catcher. Day games after night games always means your catcher sits. Showalter didn’t need the nicked up excuse. Álvarez is a catcher. Catchers are always nicked up.
From what we’ve seen, the Mets can’t take Álvarez out of the everyday lineup. If the Mets want to play Sánchez, fine, He can DH. He can catch the second end of the doubleheader or the day game after the night game. That’s the job of the backup catcher which Sánchez should undoubtedly be.
Make no mistake, Álvarez is better than Sánchez. Whereas Sánchez struggles defensively, Álvarez is very good behind the plate. Whereas Sánchez never fulfilled his offensive potential, Álvarez is giving us very real glimpses into what he can be.
In the end, the Mets were smart to call up Sánchez. If utilized properly, he can be a real weapon for the Mets. However, if he usurps Álvarez this will be a disaster, and it will the latest in Showalter trying to put a stop to the Mets youth movement. The Mets simply cannot let that happen.
The New York Mets rode with their veterans for as long as they could. To a certain extent, you could understand it with Mark Canha being an integral part of a 101 win team. However, even with that in the 8-7 extra inning win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Buck Showalter did what needed to be done, and he hit Brett Baty for Canha.
Given the fact Eduardo Escobar and Tommy Pham were already out of the game, that meant Baty was going to have to play left field. It also meant that was the first time we got to see Francisco Álvarez, Baty, and Mark Vientos in the field for the Mets at the same time.
In many ways, this was the dawn of a new era of Mets baseball. We knew that Álvarez was always going to be the catcher of the future. It seemed Baty surpassed Vientos as the third baseman of the future. The question was what was to happen with Vientos. DH seemed to be the spot, but perhaps, there’s a new roadmap in place.
We got a glimpse of what Álvarez can do. He’s already an excellent defensive catcher, which has been a very pleasant surprise. We also saw him channel his inner Mike Piazza to hit the game tying homer in the ninth.
The Kids Are Alright!
Francisco Álvarez caps a big @Mets comeback! pic.twitter.com/jzSwfRZo7H
— MLB (@MLB) May 18, 2023
That was the second Mets homer of the game. The first came from Vientos. He was called up to the majors because of his power at the plate. We all suspected it was game changing power, and we saw that happen when he homered in the seventh to tie the game at 2-2. It took a Mets team that looked down and out and put a jolt into them,.
WELCOME BACK TO THE BIG LEAGUES MARK VIENTOS!!!!
THIS GAME IS TIED! pic.twitter.com/z8iegpI5pF
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 18, 2023
We also know Pete Alonso hit the walk-off homer in the tenth to give the Mets an unexpected and much needed win. Of course, Alonso homering there only highlights the problem the Mets have. With Alonso at first, the team cannot put Vientos at first to put Baty at third like they did in Syracuse.
No, Vientos either has to play third or DH. Asking a young player to DH is sometimes an issue, and it would be better for him to play third. Looking to the offseason, the Mets also want to keep DH open to try to entice Shohei Ohtani, but that is a discussion for another time.
The discussion for right now is how to get Baty and Vientos onto the field at the same time. Perhaps, Baty having to play left field in an emergency is the roadmap. Perhaps, the Mets could try putting Baty in left with Vientos at third.
For what it is worth, Baty looked good there in 250 innings in the minors. His 27.1 ft/sec sprint speed is quicker than Pham and is sufficient to play left. He’d be one of the slower left fielders, but with his quick reactions formed while training for third. There is also the fact the Mets were preparing for that eventuality when they initially agreed to terms with Carlos Correa.
Vientos is not a great third baseman. It’s one of the reasons he was usurped by Baty. We saw him make a great throw to get Jose Siri, but he also made a rough throw that cost the Mets a chance at a double play. However, he is vastly improved defensively, and he has a game changing bat.
The Mets can and should bring Luis Guillorme back up to fill in for late inning defense. Canha can be available for that as well. They can use Escobar to spell third on occasion. Using key veterans like Canha, Escboar, and Guillorme will help the Mets keep Baty and VIentos in games.
It will also help the Mets get the most out of their young players. It will help them make Álvarez, Baty, and Vientos the core of this team now and for the future.
The New York Mets finally broke glass for emergency and called up Mark Vientos from Triple-A Syracuse. The move was needed after the Mets went 56 innings without a homer, and the team dropped to three games under .500.
VIentos is not going to fix all that ails that Mets. After all, he can’t help José Quintana heal faster. He can’t get Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander to rewind the clock a year. He can’t get David Peterson to rediscover his ability to pitch.
All Vientos can do is go out there and hit. Even on a team with Pete Alonso, Vientos could possibly be the Mets best power bat at the moment. So far this year, he has a 169 wRC+ and 1.104 OPS with Triple-A Syracuse. He has also posted historically higher exit velocities than Alonso did in the minors.
Of course, none of that is here or there. Mostly, it just highlights how the Mets have two very similar power bats in the lineup in Alonso and Vientos. Of course, the Mets can only take advantage of that by actually playing Vientos.
Mark Vientos with his 13th HR of the season.
107.2 mph off the bat and traveled 411 feet.
— Mathew Brownstein (@MBrownstein89) May 17, 2023
So far this season, we have seen Buck Showalter reticent to play his younger players and/or give them more responsibility. When Brett Baty was called up, he started in a platoon. When Francisco Álvarez was called up, he was named the back-up catcher, and even after winning the job from Tomás Nido, he still can’t get above hitting ninth in the lineup.
With Vientos, the Mets already have Daniel Vogelbach as the DH. Showalter does not like playing rookies over veterans, and it is going to be difficult to do that with Vogelbach with him being productive with a 119 wRC+.
That said, Vogelbach has been slumping, and he has not come close to posting the power numbers expected from a DH. More to the point, Vogelbach is not capable of providing the damage at the plate Vientos potentially can.
Certainly, there will be the impetus to make Vientos a platoon option with Vogelbach usurping the role Tommy Pham was supposed to have. Notably, Vientos struggled in that platoon role last season, and you have to believe Showalter remembers those struggles.
To his credit, Vientos has been better for those struggles. He has significantly cut down on his strike out rate. With his making more contact, he is destroying baseballs in Triple-A. He promises to add a dynamic to the Mets offense they sorely need.
However, that only works if he actually plays. That does not mean a platoon at third with Baty. It does not mean a platoon at DH with Vogelbach. It means in the lineup everyday. That is the expectation, but we will see if that is the plan Showalter has.
In 2022, we saw a glimpse of what David Peterson could be as a starter for the New York Mets. Seeing that pitcher, the Mets cannot just give up on him as a starter. However, that does not mean they’re obligated to let him figure things out at the Major League level.
Through eight starts, Peterson is 1-6 with an 8.08 ERA, 1.744 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, and a 10.4 K/9. The advanced statistics don’t provide much more promise either with Peterson having a 52 ERA+ and a 4.82 FIP.
At Baseball Savant, we see Peterson has a decent whiff rate and an excellent extension. However, that is just about all he is doing well with batters squaring him up easily and he’s getting little to no spin on his pitches.
His slider remains an effective weapon getting a 35.6 Whiff%. However, that is a steep drop-off from the 45.0% it was last year. With Peterson’s fastball being flat and hit hard, he can ill-afford the slider not being as elite as it was last season.
Part of the issue may be pitch mix with Peterson throwing fewer sliders and more change-ups and sinkers. The change has been effective pitch, so you understand the increased usage. However, for two years running, Peterson’s sinker gets mauled. At some point, he is just going to have to scrap that pitch because it is completely ineffective at the Major League level.
Between the pitch mix and whatever else is ailing Peterson, he has not been the pitcher he was last season. We see that being one of the driving forces in what has been a disappointing start to the Mets season.
Through his first eight starts (and two relief appearances) last season, Peterson was 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA, 1.346 WHIP, 4.4 BB/9, and a 8.3 K/9. Over that stretch, his FIP was 3.91. This is a completely different pitcher. He was one who gave the Mets a chance to win.
The Peterson we see this season is not giving the Mets much of a chance to win. With the Mets lineup devoid of power, they don’t have the chance to win games or even be competitive.
This leaves the Mets with few good options. Maybe, they need to give José Butto more of a look until Carlos Carrasco comes off the IL. At least, Butto has been more competitive. Again, it may not be the best option, but it is a better one at the moment.
Whatever the plan, the Mets are going to need the Peterson we saw in 2022 at some point this season. It is better to get him to Syracuse now to have him figure it out because right now it is just not working, and the Mets don’t have the bats to let him figure it out.
Back when the New York Mets acquired Daniel Vogelbach, early analysis on this site was it hurt the Mets in the short-term. It was also noted as a bizarre trade as the Mets in-house options were more than capable of handling the duties the Mets were seeking Vogelbach to handle.
As we have become further removed from the trade, we see it is a trade which has continued to hamper the Mets.
This is not to say Vogelbach has been bad. In fact, Vogelbach has been better with the Mets than he has at any spot in his career posting a 130 OPS+ with the Mets.
That may be news to some Mets fans as they have become frustrated with the designated hitter. They will point to his numbers with RISP (.200/.455/.200) and his lack of power. While productive as a DH, Vogelbach is not the classic power hitter you expect from the position, or frankly, someone with his physique.
That is very noticeable when Mark Vientos is raking in Triple-A. So far this season, Vientos is hitting .331/.416/.677 with 11 2B, 12 HR, and 35 RBI. By every measure, Vientos should be in the majors.
However, he isn’t, and it is inextricably linked to Vogelbach. Yes, fans are frustrated with him, but he has been productive at the plate. As a result, the team is not going to have Vientos join the club to sit.
This is a consideration Billy Eppler should have had last year and this past offseason. Keep in mind, Vientos was raking with Syracuse last season, but the Mets outright refused to give him a look at DH. Instead, they opted for the Vogelbach/Darin Ruf tandem at the trade deadline.
Vientos did not succeed in a short-side platoon in September. This is a reason not to call him up now no matter how much he hits. Arguably, he’s the Mets best DH option now (and probably was last season), but he’s blocked due to the veteran forward approach of Eppler and Buck Showalter.
The trade is made worse by Colin Holderman‘s success with the Pittsburgh Pirates. So far this season, Holderman is 0-1 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.313 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, and a 10.7 K/9. He has established himself as a very good late inning relief option.
The Mets could use Holderman now, especially after the Edwin Díaz injury. At the moment, David Robertson, Drew Smith, and Adam Ottavino have been the only real reliable relievers so far this season. Past them, the Mets have been cycling through injured relievers and hoping for one or two good outings from the Jimmy Yacabonis and Dennis Santana of the world before they hit the IL or are designated for assignment.
Of course, the there is also the matter of how the Holderman for Vogelbach trade led to the Mychal Givens trade last season. Therein lies the real issues with the Vogelbach trade.
The value of Holderman for Vogelbach was fine. In fact, it might’ve been an underpay for the Mets. However, that trade has forced the Mets into many bad and short-sighted decisions. As a result, we see Vientos stuck in Triple-A, and the Mets still seeking power and production from players who were never going to provide it – players like Vogelbach.
In the opening game of the series against the Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets fans were angry Luis Guillorme hit for Mark Canha with the bases loaded and Alexis Díaz on the mound.
It didn’t matter Canha has trouble with the slider and has been hitting .188/.229/.313 over the past two weeks and ..208/.268/.333 over the past month. What they know is that Guillorme isn’t better than Canha.
Actually, that’s not true. It’s a complete assumption predicated on the fact Guillorme does not hit for power. Since he does not hit for power, he is de facto bad. One blown call from the third base umpire, and those assumptions were then solidified as fact.
Here’s the thing. Guillorme has not been that good this season. We have not seen Gold Glove level ability in the field. Instead, Guillorme has a -3 OAA at second base. To be fair, if Guillorme is not fielding, it’s hard to find a spot for him to play.
However, the ability is still there. Despite the consternation from Mets fans, Guillorme got the start after failing to deliver with the bases loaded (Canha grounded into a double play with no outs and the bases loaded earlier in the game, but that didn’t matter as much). We saw Guillorme’s ability to field on display yet again:
A diving stop by Luis Guillorme! pic.twitter.com/N5jlqUWcXD
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 10, 2023
That was not the full extent of Guillorme’s contributions to the 2-1 win. He would start a two out rally with a double off Hunter Greene. He would come home to score the winning run on a Brandon Nimmo RBI single.
On the day, Guillorme was 2-for-3 with a run and a double. It was his second two hit game in as many starts. Since April 14, Guillorme is hitting .278/.395/.333. If he can field like Guillorme, that’s a very productive player.
Guillorme is not a superstar and is never going to be one. He is a guy who plays very good defense. He has good at-bats not striking out often and finding a way on base. As we saw last year, he is a winning type of player who makes your team better.
With the way Canha is struggling, it is difficult to play him over Guillorme. Guillorme has been much better over the past month, and he brings more to the team from a defensive standpoint. If given a playing time, he can again do what he did last year. If so, the Mets will begin winning games again.
Mostly, Guillorme can re-establish the type of player he is. He’s a strong defender who gets on base. When he’s that, the Mets are better, and when he’s playing like that, he will silence his critics (again). All he needs is a stretch of playing time. At this point, there is little doubt he should be getting it.
When teams are struggling, many times fans want to see the best prospects in the organization. That goes double when those prospects are putting up big numbers in the minors. It’s not a bad thought as this is the best and easiest way to improve the ballclub and/or see if that is an area which needs to be addressed at the trade deadline.
When it comes to the Mets, fans want to see Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos called up. Unfortunately, Mets fans are wrong here, at least for now.
For Mauricio, there is presumably a spot as he could move to second base allowing Jeff McNeil to shift to left to take Mark Canha out of the lineup. The underlying concept has merit, but it is misplaced when you consider Mauricio isn’t ready for the majors.
Yes, Mauricio was the LIDOM MVP (a level of baseball below Triple-A). He was great in spring, and so far this season, Mauricio has a 134 wRC+. This is only part of the story.
Mauricio also has a 4.2 BB%. With that being the lowest mark of his professional career, we see he is not improving on his greatest weakness as a player. His swing at everything approach is problematic and does not portend for success at the major league level.
Consider for a moment that’s actually lower than what Amed Rosario had in the minors. Rosario came up to the majors, and he couldn’t maximize his abilities because he never learned any patience at the plate. When he got to the majors, things got worse.
Mauricio is potentially a big part of the Mets future. If the Mets want him to be that, they need to call him up when he’s ready. He’s not ready now, and his bad habits are only going to intensify. With those habits, there’s not promises he outhits anyone on the Mets roster, and as a result, Mauricio needs to stay in Triple-A.
As for Vientos, he’s absolutely ready with the bat. Arguably, he would have more power than anyone in the Mets lineup, and he could provide the power so desperately needed by this team.
The question is where does he play?
Vientos isn’t going to supplant Pete Alonso at first base. Brett Baty is better defensively at third, and he has been hitting with a 115 wRC+. Daniel Vogelbach isn’t hitting like a traditional DH, but he has been productive with a 134 wRC+. As the Mets found out, Vientos cannot play the outfield.
That’s the problem with Vientos. there is nowhere to put him. As we saw with Francisco Álvarez, you don’t want to cool off the bat of a red-hot prospect by calling him up to put him on the bench. That leaves Vientos in limbo. He belongs in the majors, but there is no spot for him.
As a result, the Mets issues can’t be resolved by calling up Mauricio and Vientos. Mauricio isn’t ready, and Vientos can’t play the outfield. That leaves the Mets looking in other directions to try to improve as a team.
The New York Mets signed Gary Sánchez to a minor league deal, and they will assign the C/DH to Triple-A Syracuse. Now, the standard rule is there is no such thing as a minor league deal. Those are lottery tickets.
We’ve seen from Baseball Savant, Sánchez annihilates the baseball when he makes contact. He’s actually better behind the plate than advertised. That doesn’t mean he’s good, just better as he has shown the ability to frame well and throw out base runners. He still can’t block the ball.
When you have a Mets team struggling offensively, Sánchez could be a power bat they need. He could share the DH spot with Daniel Vogelbach. He could be a late inning pinch hitter. He could be a third catcher giving the Mets some late inning flexibility.
These are all very good reasons to sign Sánchez. The best part is he could prove to be none of these things leading the Mets to keep him in Syracuse or release him at one point.
The question is whether the Mets can be trusted with Sánchez. Maybe it is reading too much into things, but this appears to be a direct threat to the playing time of Francisco Álvarez‘s playing time.
Things did not start well for Álvarez after the Omar Narváez injury. However, that was partially the result of Buck Showalter‘s insistence on making Álvarez the back-up to Tomás Nido. The red-hot hitting Álvarez went cold at the plate initially.
With Nido’s struggles, the Mets have been all but forced to play Álvarez, and he has responded quite well. He has been elite in terms of pitch framing, and he’s blocking balls well. Over his past 13 games, he is hitting .286/.342/.429. Those are not the numbers we expect in the long run, but it’s productive, and more importantly, it’s a start.
The very last thing the Mets should be doing is taking away Álvarez’s playing time. Certainly, the Mets cannot look to Sánchez to play over Álvarez in the long or short term. Simply put, Álvarez is right now the better defensive and offensive player.
Still, this is a Mets team with a weird affinity towards former players of Showalter with the Baltimore Orioles, and we see Billy Eppler keeping an eye out for his former players with the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels. That’s fine for depth and minor league signings. It is a whole other thing when we see it play out at the Major League level.
On the surface, Sánchez is a GREAT minor league signing. There is talent there, and if you can unlock it, watch out! That said, we should remain skeptical as to the Mets true motives as it has a very direct impact on what they do with Álvarez.
Right now, the New York Mets are 17-18. They’re under .500. As Bill Parcells has been credited with saying, “You are what your record says you are.” Well, that means the Mets are not a good team.
There are caveats we can throw out there, and to be fair, they should be noted.
We saw José Quintana and Justin Verlander start the year on the IL. Carlos Carrasco is on the IL. Max Scherzer didn’t hit the IL, but he was having some issues before the suspension.
Losing four starters like that takes a toll on your rotation and team. Of course, that is a complication of having the oldest rotation in the majors. As oft noted this offseason, rotations this old usually do not make it to the postseason.
The bullpen was thrown a bit into chaos with the unexpected season ending injury to Edwin Díaz. To be fair, the Mets were prepared for that with the addition of David Robertson. The problem is no one outside Robertson and Drew Smith have been very good in the bullpen.
Of course, that is a function of the rotation not going deep into games. That is going to tax the bullpen. However, it is also a function of Billy Eppler not building a complete bullpen over the winter. The bullpen needed 1-2 more arms, and he never got them. He also never replaced Trevor Williams as the long man, which only exacerbates the starting pitching being unable to go deep into games.
Maybe the Mets could weather this storm with more offense, but the offense was left unaddressed in the offseason. The world knew the Mets needed more power in the lineup, and their only attempt was the failed Carlos Correa signing. As a result, the Mets went right back to the lineup which failed against the Atlanta Braves in September and then failed again in the NL Wild Card Series.
The Mets did call up Brett Baty, and he has been good. Francisco Álvarez was put on ice after the Omar Narváez injury, and he has started hitting pretty well. Over the past 13 games, he is hitting .286/.342/.429. These are competent bats right now that are not yet lighting the world on fire.
Of course, that also means they’re some of the Mets more productive bats. You wouldn’t know that because Buck Showalter thinks they belong in the bottom half to bottom third of the lineup. Starling Marte and his 68 wRC+ is permanently entrenched in the second spot in the lineup (the most important spot in the lineup) because he’s fast and a veteran.
Mark Canha has a 91 wRC+, and he mostly bats fifth or sixth because, well, he’s a veteran. Therein lies the problem. Showalter is making decisions based upon 1980s decision making and deference to veterans. It’s not about what best suits the team now.
Sure, not all that ails the Mets is going to be solved by lineup construction. However, when your pitching is struggling this much, and there are so many unproductive bats, you need to get as much of a competitive advantage as you possibly can.
Right now, the Mets aren’t. As a result, they’re an under .500 team. They’re just not a good team, and the manager isn’t really doing what is needed to be done to get some wins right now.
Sure, the Mets can turn things around and still make the postseason. That said, they’re seven games behind the Atlanta Braves and tied with the Miami Marlins for second in the division. The more they don’t do anything the more the division is out of reach leaving them back in that dreaded best-of-three series.
Now is the time for the Mets to focus on their productive players. Let the young players play and thrive. If not, the Mets could be in serious trouble.