Reports are Steve Cohen and the New York Mets believe they still need to add a bat to this roster. In reality, they are quite right in that assessment. They may not be entirely correct in their pursuit.
According to those reports, the Mets are pursuing Michael Conforto and JD Martinez. As previously explained, Conforto would be a very good fit for the Mets roster, and really, it would be a good spot for Conforto to return to familiar surroundings to rebuild his value.
When it comes to Martinez, the Mets should avoid him. He is a very poor fit for this team, and in reality, he may not have anything left.
Martinez will be 35 next season. His sprint speed is 26.1 ft/sec. He didn’t play a single inning in the outfield last season. He has never played first base. The long story short is he’s only a DH at this point in his career. As a result, his ability to provide any value to his team will solely be wrapped up in his ability to hit.
That can be problematic.
Martinez was productive in 2022 with a 117 OPS+ and 119 wRC+. That mark ranked him as the seventh best DH in all of baseball. For a Mets team had the worst DH production for most of the 2022 season that would be an upgrade. However, it is probably not an upgrade from what is here already.
Last season, Daniel Vogelbach had a 150 wRC+ against right-handed pitching and has a 127 mark for his career. Looking towards 2023, he could share that role with one of Francisco Álvarez, Mark Canha, and/or Eduardo Escobar (133 wRC+ against left-handed pitching in 2022). All three of those players provide the ability to play in the field as needed.
Last season, Martinez had a 175 wRC+ against left-handed pitching and a 103 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Therein lies part of the problem.
If you sign Martinez, you are signing him to DH everyday. However, we see while he kills left-handed pitching, he is not hitting right-handed pitching anymore. Considering the vast majority of Major League pitchers are right-handed, that is a problem. That is also the tip of the iceberg.
Looking over at Baseball Savant, Martinez is in decline like you would expect for a 35 year old baseball player. His exit velocities and launch angles were down. He struck out slightly more and his walks have dipped (both not to the point of any real concern). As a result, his hard hit rates are down as well. Digging deeper, he’s starting to struggle hitting the fastball with his xBA in a steep decline from 2017.
Again, this is what you get from a 35 year old player. That is even if you want to point out much of the regression in his production was related to back issues. Certainly, people will point to Martinez having a bad second half as evidence that the bat will be there now that Martinez has had an offseason to recuperate
If you recall, this is a game the Mets played in 2008 with Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez was 36 with back issues, and he played like a 36 year old with back issues. Maybe Martinez is different, but when you’re a win-now team spending upwards of $400 million, this is not the risk you want to take.
For the Mets, their options should be sign Conforto, stand pat, or do something else. The answer is not J.D. Martinez, and really, they should avoid him at all costs. .
The writing had been on the wall, and now, it’s official. With the New York Mets non-tendering Dominic Smith, his tenure with the team has now ended.
In many ways, it never really began.
Despite Smith being a first round pick and top 100 prospect, he was only given 49 games in 2017 to claim the first base job. This was at a time when he had undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea.
Rosario was never challenged for his job despite his failures. Smith was never given the chance to succeed.
In Smith’s entire six year career with the Mets, he entered Opening Day as the team’s first baseman zero times. Yes, Pete Alonso had a lot to do with that, but the organization’s unwillingness to give him the job played into it more.
Remember, after González was designated for assignment in 2018, Smith was not recalled to play first despite the team being effectively eliminated from postseason competition in May.
Over six years, Smith, a pure first baseman, has logged more innings in left than at first. Notably, left is out of position for Smith, and he suffered injuries each year he was asked to play extended time there.
On that note, the only time he was given a steering job out of Spring Training was 2021. He’d hurt his shoulder and play through it partially because of all of the Mets injuries.
He earned that chance because of a great 2020 pandemic season. That was the only time in his Mets career he was healthy and given a chance to play first. He thrived.
To the apparent shock of the Mets, Smith did not thrive playing out of position or when injured. It’s shocking they didn’t realize this because they only had to go as far back as Lucas Duda to figure that out. This being the Mets, they didn’t.
Smith was a DH fewer times than Alonso, who only served that role 27 times all season. Smith was the DH in just eight more games than Mark Vientos. Vientos was a short side platoon DH called up on September 11.
Barely getting more reps at a position than a part time player called up with less than a month remaining in the season is proof positive he wasn’t given a shot to win the job.
There are obvious and fair criticisms of Smith in 2022. He didn’t hit a homer in the majors all year. He didn’t hit much at all. Then again, his playing time was very sporadic.
Still, when you don’t produce, you’re going to be benched. Moreover, when the Mets were in need for pitching, they needed to send Smith down.
What’s truly bizarre is we never saw Smith in September. That was even with him hitting, and the Mets needing offense, offense the rookies were not providing. For Smith’s Mets tenure, it was par for the course.
Now, Smith is going to be free to sign with a team willing to play him at first. He’s going to get to show when playing first he can be that guy he was in 2020. Conversely, he also gets the chance to prove he’s not that guy.
Put another way, Smith is finally going to get his chance. Here’s hoping he takes full advantage and produces like we know he can.
The Baseball Hall of Fame announced the “Contemporary Baseball Era Committee” ballot. In the common vernacular, it’s time for the Veteran’s Committee to vote on what is a highly controversial ballot likely to induce controversial results.
After that, there are a number of players with interesting cases. That is all except Don Mattingly. For his part, Mattingly has no business being on this ballot.
This is the romanticism of his career. He was a New York Yankee for his entire career. He was the only true great Yankee never to win a World Series. In fact, he’d only play in one postseason.
When you strip it all down, back injury or not, he was not close to the Hall.
Mattingly had a 42.4 WAR/35.8 WAR7/39.1 JAWS. That puts him in the same boat as Adrian González, who retired with similar numbers and had similar back injuries.
Keep in mind, no one is going to give González real Hall of Fame consideration. That’s even with him having a better WAR than Mattingly and having some postseason success.
Put Mattingly aside. The Hall of Fame was founded in 1936. In the ensuing 86 years, 25 first baseman have been inducted. They’ve averaged a 65.5 WAR/42.1 WAR7/53.8 JAWS.
Mattingly comes nowhere close to measuring up. Putting him on this ballot is a farce. It’s outright criminal when a vastly superior player in Keith Hernandez wasn’t placed on that ballot.
Aside from Bonds, he’s the only player at his position to have the most Gold Gloves at his position and not be inducted into the Hall of Fame. With respect to Bonds, that may well change, but it can’t now with Hernandez.
Hernandez was the 1979 NL MVP. He’s won 11 Gold Gloves. He was the New York Mets first captain. He’s won two World Series. In sum, this should all lead to his Hall of Fame induction.
However, whoever decided to create this ballot omitted Hernandez (and other worthy candidates like Lou Whitaker) for Mattingly. It’s a farce because Hernandez was far superior.
Hernandez had a 60.3 WAR/41.3 WAR7/50.8 JAWS. His WAR was 17.9 higher than Mattingly. His WAR7 was 5.5 higher, and his JAWS was 11.7 higher.
What’s fascinating there is the argument for Mattingly is his prime. However, as viewed by the prism of WAR7 and JAWS, Hernandez had the better prime.
While the claim is Mattingly was the better hitter, again, the numbers don’t bear that out. Mattingly had a 127 OPS+ and 124 wRC+. Hernandez had a 128 OPS+ and a 131 wRC+.
We all know Hernandez was also the superior fielder. That means Hernandez was a better hitter, fielder, and leader.
Put another way, Mattingly doesn’t belong in the same conversation as Hernandez. As noted, he’s in a conversation with Adrian González.
The Hall of Fame flat out got it wrong. Omitting Hernandez in favor of Mattingly was an inexcusable error in judgment. The only hope is the next time Hernandez is eligible, this error is not repeated, and Hernandez is rightfully and finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
For some reason, the New York Mets just don’t want to give Dominic Smith a full time job. Worse yet, they don’t want him to earn it either.
Consider this, of all the players on the Opening Day roster, Smith is the only player who has not started at least four games in a row. Yes, that does mean Travis Jankowski has.
At the time, Smith was hitting .186/.287/.256. Again, when that’s your line, you put yourself in that position, especially when you have options.
However, Davis has similarly faltered. Since June 19, he’s hitting .162/.279/.297 striking out 16 times in 43 plate appearances (37.2%). That’s with a three hit game!
Nowhere will you find the Mets even contemplating sending down Davis. Again, he’s not hitting at all, and he can’t field any position. He’s literally useless to this Major League roster.
Despite that, he continues to get at-bats at the expense of Smith. Even with Smith historically faring better against left-handed pitching, they’ll sit Smith for Davis.
You don’t do this if you’re invested in Smith. That goes double when Smith had a hot bat. The reason is the Mets, at least the Sandy Alderson directed Mets, have never been truly invested in Smith.
This goes back to 2017 and 2018.
Smith was given competition to Adrian Gonzalez, who was really signed to play. The Mets preference was made all the easier when Smith was late to pregame, and Mickey Callaway felt the need to display his authority.
This was before Smith’s sleep apnea was diagnosed and treated.
To make matters worse, Smith was used as a left fielder for a good portion of the time. This was a first round pick and top 100 prospect. A Mets team completely out of it thought the best course of action was to see what he had . . . in the outfield.
Keep in mind, Rosario struggled, and the Mets went out of their way to ensure he’s have no competition for the job. Better yet, the team sent down Luis Guillorme for a stretch leaving Rosario as the ONLY shortstop on the roster.
Between 2018 and the present, there’s a pattern, and the person at the helm has been Sandy Alderson. People can say he’s out of the loop, but he’s out there making statements the Mets need to address the DH position.
That was yet another shot at Smith, a player he didn’t want.
Remember, the Mets nearly traded Smith for Eric Hosmer (horrendous contract), Chris Paddack (injured pitcher with a 96 ERA+), and Emilio Pagan (81 ERA+ over last three seasons). That’s just how much they wanted rid of Smith.
They wanted to take on a ton of money to get worse. It’s no wonder Steve Cohen was reportedly forced to nix the deal.
That’s all well and good, but the front office response was just to not let Smith earn a job. On some level, that’s personal. There’s certainly a history backing it up.
Overall, the Mets didn’t want Smith. Alderson has a long track record of not giving him a fair shot. Now, the Mets are ready to move on without even so much as giving him a week of starts to try to earn a job.
After this weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Mets are going to have to make a decision. They will have to cut one pitcher and one position player as the team needs to bring the roster down from 28 to 26. If this was purely merit based, the answer to that conundrum would be Robinson Cano, who has only shown he’s done.
As of this moment, if it is not Cano, all signs point to Dominic Smith, and the biggest reason why is he has an option remaining, and he does not have five years of service time. As a result, he can not reject the assignment to Triple-A.
Based on the numbers so far, there isn’t much of an argument. Through 17 games, he is hitting just .182/.300/.212 with a double and three RBI. More troubling behind that 69 wRC+ is a 30.0 K%. Even if there has been some recent improvement, including his go-ahead pinch hit against the St. Louis Cardinals, he just hasn’t shown enough so far this season.
A large part of that could be attributable to how the Mets have handled him this season.
As the Mets approached Opening Day, Smith was showing his 2021 shoulder issues were behind him. Max Scherzer was commenting how Smith was showing an ability to hit balls he was never able to hit. He was red hot at the plate, and he looked poised to return to his 2020 form where we all thought he was on the verge of being a star.
As it turned out, the team first looked to get Cano going. Even after he had a PED suspension costing him the 2021 season, they rewarded him with the Opening Day start. Smith would have to stay on the bench. He would actually be the last Mets player on the roster to get an at-bat and a start in the season.
Nearly a full month into the season, Smith has only started on back-to-back days just once. While having good numbers against left-handed pitching, better than Pete Alonso, he is benched against left-handed pitchers. Really, this is the story of his entire Mets career.
Heading into the 2018 season, the Mets signed Adrian Gonzalez to block Smith. When Gonzalez didn’t work, they went to Wilmer Flores. They never gave him an opportunity to compete with Alonso for the first base job. Time and again, the Mets just go out of their way to find excuses to not play Smith, and then when he doesn’t succeed in a tough situation, they act like they’re justified pretending like he didn’t thrive with extended playing time in 2019 and 2020.
All-in-all, Smith hasn’t performed this season. Certainly, there is blame on his shoulders for not taking advantage of his limited opportunities. That said, sooner or later, the Mets need to put him in a position where he can thrive and be an everyday player because Smith has shown he isn’t just an everyday player but a good one at that.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame has announced the players eligible for vote by the Veteran’s Committee. Yes, it’s technically the Golden Day Era Committee, but it’ll always be the Veteran’s Committee.
Perhaps the biggest name on the list is Gil Hodges.
If you’re a New York Mets fan or Brooklyn Dodgers fan, it at least seems that way. For decades, we’ve heard people wax poetic about Hodges. There’s good reason for it too.
Hodges was a fan favorite. He was an eight time All-Star and three time Gold Glover. He won two World Series as a player including being part of the iconic 1955 Dodgers.
Hodges also pulled off a miracle. He took a Mets team who was the laughingstock of laughingstocks and led them to the 1969 World Series title.
There are many things you can write and say about Hodges. Unfortunately, one of them isn’t Hall of Famer.
As the story goes, Hodges would’ve been one if not for a Ted Williams power trip. Hodges had the votes to be indicted by the Veteran’s Committee, but Williams disallowed Roy Campanella‘s vote because he wasn’t present at the meeting.
If Campanella was there instead of the hospital, Hodges would be in the Hall of Fame. Except, he wasn’t, and honestly, he shouldn’t be.
You’ll see his ardent supporters making a case for him. They’ll point to the 100 RBI seasons and where he was on the home run leaderboard. There’s other arguments as well. While it sounds good, it masks how he falls short.
Over his 18 year career, Hodges amassed a 43.9 WAR and 120 OPS+. Looking at Hall of Fame indicators, Hodges had a 33.7 WAR7 and 38.8 JAWS.
The average Hall of Fame first baseman has a 66.9 WAR, 42.7 WAR7, and a 54.8 JAWS. These marks leave Hodges well short.
This isn’t to denigrate these players or Hodges, but none of them are Hall of Famers. The same goes for players like Will Clark, Mark Grace, and Don Mattingly, each of whom had better careers which still didn’t reach the level of the Hall of Fame.
Maybe with a longer managerial career, Hodges moves above them and into Hall of Fame status. However, even with that miracle run, he was 93 games under .500 in his nine years as a manager.
Overall, Hodges is an iconic figure for two franchises. He had a great career, one that shouldn’t be criticized. Unfortunately, it was one short of being Hall of Fame worthy.
As things started to slip, acting general manager Zack Scott had a press conference blaming the players for their injuries. He also called the team he assembled mediocre.
Now, that the season is falling apart with the Mets in third and 3.5 games back, owner Steve Cohen is now attacking the players:
It’s hard to understand how professional hitters can be this unproductive.The best teams have a more disciplined approach.The slugging and OPS numbers don’t lie.
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) August 18, 2021
Cohen, Scott, and whoever is with the front office can put the blame on the players all they want. Fact is, they assembled the roster, and they opted not to fortify a roster 3.5 games up in the standings at the trade deadline.
Their lone Major League acquisition was Javier Báez, a player who was dealing with heel issues at the time of the trade. He would play 10 games before hitting the IL.
The team failed to really add another starter. You could say Trevor Williams, but considering the Mets keep stashing him in Syracuse, they didn’t add one.
The Mets didn’t add to a bullpen who has been HEAVILY used. There are signs of overwork and fatigue with everyone but Aaron Loup. The front office opted to instead ride with pitchers like Anthony Banda, Yennsy Diaz, Geoff Hartlieb, and others of the same ilk in big spots.
Another important matter here is Chili Davis. His track record shows how players under his tutelage fall down this path. Despite that, they opted to keep him to start the season.
As an example of the Davis effect look at Kris Bryant. He went from an MVP to the absolute worst offensive season of his career. With Davis gone, he’s again improved to being Bryant again.
There’s another important point on Bryant. The Mets have punted on third base all year. They hoped for J.D. Davis to magically learn the position (he didn’t) or for Jonathan Villar to be a regular player (he’s been somewhat).
The Mets had the option to address the rotation, bullpen, third base, and the depth that includes non-playable players like Kevin Pillar. As we saw with the Braves, that didn’t need to be blockbuster deals.
Remember, the Dodgers current run was jump started by trading for Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez. That option was on the table with the Twins looking to move Josh Donaldson and Kenta Maeda to the Mets.
Adding Donaldson and Maeda would’ve transformed the Mets and made them significantly better. However, the deal fell apart over money.
Therein lies another problem. Entering the season and at the trade deadline, the Mets treated the luxury tax threshold as a hard cap. They were unwilling to surpass it despite the very soft penalties for first time offenders. They were unwilling to surpass it despite a new CBA being negotiated this offseason which will likely change the threshold and penalties.
All told, the Mets front office just wasn’t willing to do what they needed to do to win the division. They failed to give a first place team what they needed to stay there.
In the end, they can point all the fingers they want, but at the end of the day, this team is a direct reflection of their actions, and when this team misses the postseason, they have no one to blame but themselves.
The Boston Red Sox traded away Mookie Betts, arguably the second best player in baseball, for what amounted to an underwhelming return because the organization believes it needed to get under the luxury tax. This came on the heels of the team needing to fire Alex Cora because he was implicated in the Astros sign stealing scandal.
To that, Mets fans say, “You’re lucky!”
Since the Wilpons took over control of the Mets in 2002, the Red Sox have won four World Series titles to the Mets none. The reason is the Red Sox have competent ownership who will spend and allow their baseball people to run the organization.
The Red Sox got rid of Pedro Martinez towards the end of his career. The Mets helped accelerate that by forcing Pedro to pitch hurt to generate just one last big gate at the end of the 2005 season.
The Red Sox had a similar sell off moving Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett in a blockbuster where they got little more than salary relief from the Dodgers. The Red Sox took advantage of that payroll relief by investing it in the roster and winning the World Series the following year.
Meanwhile, the Mets cannot even afford to reinvest insurance proceeds from Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright. Meanwhile, the Mets get Gonzalez when his career is done because they won’t sign a big free agent, nor would they give Dominic Smith a chance much in the same vein the Red Sox gave players like Betts a chance.
Part of the reason for this is the Mets are run by Jeff Wilpon, who continues to prove he’s inept at running a franchise. That goes from assembling a roster to being the type of person who fires an unwed pregnant woman. He also opted to hire a former agent in Brodie Van Wagenen.
Van Wagenen’s first move was to trade Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to help get his former client Robinson Cano out of Seattle like he wanted. Later in the offseason, he signed his former client Jed Lowrie for $20 million, and so far, he only has eight pinch hitting attempts to show for it.
Van Wagenen was hired over Chaim Bloom, one of the most respected people in the business. Bloom was the guy who helped keep the Rays competitive while having significant financial constraints. This is exactly why Mets fans have little to no sympathy for Red Sox fans.
The Red Sox are run by owners who will do whatever it takes to win, and they continuously hire accomplished baseball people who win games for them. They find ways to move past their mistakes, and even when they make unpopular decisions, they offset it by trusting smart baseball people and spending.
Meanwhile, the Mets are cursed by the incompetent Wilpons who can’t even manage to allow someone to overpay for the Mets by over a billion dollars.
So, yes, Red Sox fans, trading away Mookie Betts sucks. However, you at least have Alex Verdugo, Brusdar Graterol, Chaim Bloom, and owners who will eventually spend. The Mets fans have a young core they love but won’t win because of incompetent ownership.
So, yes, Red Sox fans, it can be worse – MUCH WORSE.
Right now, it appears the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the lead for Mookie Betts partially because they appear willing to take on David Price‘s contract as part of the deal. What is interesting about that is Price is still an effective pitcher.
While he may not be quite worth the $64 million for the remaining three years of his contract ($32 million AAV), he is still an effective pitcher. It should be noted it is not without some risk. After all, he did miss the end of the 2019 season due to a left wrist injury.
If not Price, a team could insert themselves into the running by taking on Nathan Eovaldi. He’s an even bigger injury risk, and he is owed $51 million over the next three years.
The key with Betts isn’t just the prospects. It is providing the team with salary relief to help them rebuild. Essentially, the team willing to take on the Red Sox contracts, can get one guaranteed year of Betts as a bonus. This is not too different from how the Los Angeles Dodgers obtained Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett in a deal which not only allowed the Red Sox to get salary relief, but it also helped jump start the Dodgers.
Similar to the Red Sox with Betts, the Chicago Cubs are looking to trade Kris Bryant due to purported budget constraints.
The team willing to take on the contracts of Jason Heyward, Yu Darvish, or even Craig Kimbrel could really improve their chances of obtaining Bryant. For a Mets team who needs a center fielder, will soon face Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz hitting free agency, and could still use an upgrade in the bullpen, could take on one of those contracts in order to make a push for Bryant.
Keep in mind, the Mets getting Betts or Bryant would be a game changer.
Depending on the trade, obtaining either one of those players would put the Mets from middle of the pack in the Naional League East to one of the best teams in all of baseball. Suddenly, we are not talking about fighting for a Wild Card or having a shot at the division. No, we are talking about the Mets as legitimate World Series contenders.
The issue with the Mets is with the Wilpons in charge money is an even bigger issue than it is in Boston or Chicago. The Mets are the same team who did not reinvest the insurance savings on Yoenis Cespedes‘ or David Wright‘s contracts.
Again, this is where Steve Cohen comes into play. If he was willing to increase the Mets budget now in order to take on contracts which will be in play when he takes over, the Mets could make one of these potential trades. However, based on what we have seen this offseason with the Mets not signing players to multi-year deals, it does not seem the Mets are willing to take on future payroll obligations until the sale is finalized.
That does mute some of the early enthusiasm where people thought Cohen would immediately inject money into the organization. Sadly, the Mets assumed unwillingness to take on a big contract to get a Betts or Bryant is another indication the Wilpons are still in power.
To that end, there could be a sense of relief. After all, Brodie Van Wagenen bungled taking on Robinson Cano‘s contract. Seeing that, you absolutely cannot trust him making a deal of this magnitude. Overall, with Van Wagenen making moves and the budget still restrained, we see things have not yet changed/improved.
Hopefully, that will all change in the not too distant future. Until then, we will see players like Betts and Bryant playing for a team not located in Flushing.
In 2017, in a somewhat surprising move, the New York Rangers made Lias Andersson the seventh overall selection in the draft. He was supposed to be the first big move in a Rangers rebuild, and to some he was touted as a future Captain of the Rangers who could led the team to their first Stanley Cup since 1995.
So far, it hasn’t panned out that way, and worse yet, things only seem to get worse and worse.
Andersson struggled in his first year, but he seemed to learn some lessons from it. During training camp, he seemed to prove himself and earned a spot on the roster to open the 2019-2020 season. The optimism quickly soured with him not producing and the ensuing debate/drama over his being on the fourth line.
This entire situation led to Andersson being demoted to the AHL, where he again struggled. Eventually, Andersson demanded a trade and all together up and left the Rangers. Since that time, there was an active debate over handling of him and other prospects as well as Andersson on how he handled the situation.
Recently, Andersson opened up about what has transpired. In an interview translated by Blueshirt Banter, Andersson talked about how he is struggling:
There has been many incidents, but I can’t divulge everything, I will do that at a later stage. There has been many incidents that has hurt me on a personal level, things that has made me struggle mentally. In regards to hockey this might be an idiotic decision but I have to think about my private life too.”, Lias falls silent, “I feel like I have lost the hunger and drive for [hockey] at the moment – and all these incidents has affected me. I feel like I have to get this under control first and foremost.
Since the interview, we have learned more about the situation. Andersson was apparently skating on two injured feet, and there have been unspoken incidents which have troubled him. Another important note here is Andersson’s father has been clear this is not some temper tantrum about his demotion to the AHL.
Andersson is struggling with something, is dealing with injuries, and he is not yet ready to talk about it.
With hockey uncovering some bullying issues, especially from coaches, there has been some speculation as to what happened with Andersson with some of it being irresponsible. Still without quite knowing what happened with Andersson, there is a lesson to be learned here about how teams handle prospects.
Before going further, there is an interesting baseball parallel here with Dominic Smith of the Mets.
Smith was drafted by the Mets with the 11th overall pick of the 2013 draft. Since that time, we saw Smith show the tools to be a good Major League player, but there was a narrative emerging about his being overweight and lazy. In terms of his being overweight, you could see it despite his spending much of his offseasons dedicated to getting into shape.
As for the lazy part, aside from it being a byproduct of how some view overweight people, Smith would oversleep and report late to the first Spring Training game of the 2018 season. That seemed to be the final nail in his coffin as the Mets first baseman of the future.
After that point, the Mets went forward with Adrian Gonzalez to start the 2018 season. After they moved on from Gonzalez, the Mets looked to Wilmer Flores, a player they would non-tender after the season, at first base. All-in-all, they never gave Smith a chance to succeed, and eventually without a real direct competition, Smith was passed on the depth chart by Pete Alonso.
After the 2018 season, we discovered Smith had been battling sleep apnea. With it finally being properly diagnosed and treated, we not only saw Smith stay in shape for the entirety of the 2019 season, but we would also see him become an impactful player with a 133 wRC+.
With Smith, you are really left wondering how things would have been different had the team handled his development differently. It is the same exact situation with Andersson.
In recent years, it is becoming increasingly clear teams are not devoting enough time and resources to the actual development of players. While we see teams increasingly looking towards analytics and conditioning to help develop and improve their players, we are not hearing enough about teams looking to help players develop mentally, and/or learn to better handle themselves as professionals.
Many times, we hear about how this manager, coach, or veteran is going to take a certain player under their wing and help them fulfill their full potential. Looking at the Mets, we actually heard Edwin Diaz speak about his problems handling New York, and he was looking forward to new manager Carlos Beltran helping him better handle the city in 2020.
While a manager is supposed to be there to help, players need more, especially when a manager has to handle a roster of 25 players, a full coaching staff, speak with the media, and deal with the front office. It’s too much for any manager to handle players like a Smith or Andersson who are clearly struggling and need the help the team is ill equipped to provide.
The help can come in the form of a mental skills or life coach for the team. Perhaps every team should have a form of a stipend to help players seek the personal help they need but really cannot afford as prospects. Perhaps leagues need to have an ombudsman of sorts to visit minor leaguers to investigate how teams are being run and why they aren’t meeting their goals.
Point is, the Rangers have effectively lost a very talented hockey player in Andersson to something which might have been avoidable. The Mets almost missed out on Smith having a productive career for trying to turn what was a physical ailment into a mental problem. Clearly, these organizations and others are very ill-equipped to handle the mental and life skills issues of players, and as a result, we are seeing players not even be allowed to be put in a good position to reach their full potential.
That is a very real and significant problem. What makes it worse is it is avoidable, and it is time someone starts focusing on how to help these players instead of trying to tell them and everyone else what is wrong with them because clearly, they have no idea.