In 2017, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith were Top 100 prospects, and they both appeared to be cornerstone players for the Mets. They were supposed to join Michael Conforto as the wave of young position players who could help a pitching staff led by Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard win a World Series.
As we all know that hasn’t happened, and in all likelihood, it’s not going to happen.
Starting in 2017, we didn’t see the results from either prospect. In 46 games, Rosario hit .248/.271/.394. He had a 75 wRC+, 1 DRS, and a 0.3 WAR. He had glimpses of pure excitement, but he didn’t hit, and his fielding was not the Gold Glove level advertised.
Unfortunately, things have gotten worse for Rosario. Since his 2017 debut, he is hitting .257/.296/.380. He has an 85 wRC+, which is fourth worst among Major League shortstops over that span. As bad as that is, his -22 DRS is the worst among Major League shortstops, and it is the fourth worst of all Major League players. In total, he has a -1.5 WAR.
Despite these struggles and his failing to make noticeable progress from a statistical standpoint, Rosario’s stature with the team has never been challenged. In 2018, the team had Jose Reyes as the backup shortstop and mentor. This year, the Mets entered the season with Luis Guillorme, and they sent him down after just 16 games leaving Rosario as the only shortstop on the roster.
While we have not seen Rosario yet develop, we have also not seen him challenged by the Mets in any way, shape, or form. This is a completely different experience than Smith’s.
As bad as Rosario has been since his debut, Smith has been worse. In 2017, Smith hit .198/.262/.395, and he had a -1.1 WAR. Because of his struggles, the Mets brought in Adrian Gonzalez in a first base “competition.” Smith certainly made things easy for the Mets when he was late showing up for the first Spring Training game.
During the 2018 season, the Mets gave time to Gonzalez, Wilmer Flores, and Jay Bruce at first base while they moved Smith to left field, where he faltered. As the season progresses, Smith saw his status of the first baseman of the future complete evaporate with every Pete Alonso homer.
The end result was Smith obviously being part of the Mets long term plans. Even though he came into Spring Training in phenomenal shape and having made clear improvements to his game, he didn’t get much of a chance to fight for the first base job, one Alonso arguably won anyway. Smith didn’t even get a small chance like Mike Olt once did while the Cubs waited to get an extra year of control over Kris Bryant.
No, the Mets just passed over Smith. They punished him for not being what they hoped he would be. Ironically, he may just be showing the Mets he’s ready to be that player hitting .400/.516/.480 as a bench player and late inning defensive replacement.
Conversely, Rosario continues to struggle. He’s not hitting or fielding well despite being given every opportunity to do so. At some point, the question needs to be asked if Rosario received the treatment Smith received, would he be a better ballplayer now? We don’t know, and we will never know.
The only thing we do know is there were two different sets of rules for Smith and Rosario. One was allowed to struggle, and the other wasn’t. One was challenged, and the other wasn’t. So far this year, one has improved, and the other hasn’t. Time will tell if the double standard will have cost the Mets the future of both players.
Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen has been quite vocal in his support of Peter Alonso, and you can understand why with the season Alonso just had last year. However, with the way the Collective Bargaining Agreement is structured, it makes little sense having Alonso on the Opening Day roster.
As we saw back in 2015, the Cubs played Mike Olt for six games to start the season. After he hit .133/.188/.333, Olt was put on the disabled list with a fracture. Three days later, Kris Bryant was added to the Major League roster as was long anticipated. By working it this way, the Cubs gained an extra year of control. As a result, Bryant will be a free agent after the 2021 and not the 2020 season.
That decision did not prevent the Cubs from winning 97 games in 2015, and it certainly did nothing to prevent the Cubs from winning the 2016 World Series. That is an important consideration for the Mets with respect to Alonso.
When you break it down, it would be irresponsible for the Mets to put Alonso on the Opening Day roster. If Alonso is as great as the Mets believe, you want an extra year of control over him. As a result, despite assertions to the contrary, it is very possible the Mets keep Alonso in the minors to start the season.
Now, the Mets have built their roster to allow that decision. By signing Jed Lowrie, the Mets could go with Lowrie at third and Todd Frazier at first base. The team could also opt for T.J. Rivera, who was the first baseman for Puerto Rico in the last World Baseball Classic. Going deeper, J.D. Davis has played first base. The team has wanted to make Travis d’Arnaud more versatile, so maybe they can hide him at first base as he works to strengthen his throwing arm post Tommy John.
Then, there is former first round pick Dominic Smith.
Smith has not received a true shot in the majors. He was called up later than Amed Rosario in 2016, and he struggled mightily. While Rosario did as well, the Mets only brought in competition for Smith, which based upon his 2016 performance was fair game. Smith then all but handed over the first base job to Adrian Gonzalez by being late to the first Spring Training game, a game he was slated to start, and then he was injured.
What is interesting is what happened after that. Gonzalez was released, and the Mets opted to go with Wilmer Flores at first base all summer long while making Smith an outfielder. The Mets did this even when the Mets were well out of the race.
Now, this is a problem this current regime inherited much like how Alonso wasn’t called up last year and now have to consider whether to forego another year of control. If the plan is to hold back Alonso for a couple of weeks, that means Smith will have a chance to compete for a position on the Opening Day roster.
If you’re going to open up a competition for first base, even if it is for the first base position over the first few weeks, that means Smith has a chance. The question which ensues is what happens if Smith outplays everyone in Spring Training, including Alonso. What if he reports to Spring Training in shape? What if he is stronger and now able to hit the ball with more authority?
What if Smith claims the Opening Day first base job? Better yet, let’s assume he gets the chance. What happens if he hits and plays good defense at first? What do the Mets do if they are winning early in the season with Smith being part of the equation? Do the Mets stick with Smith, or do they turn around and give the first base job to Alonso the first chance they get?
Right now, the narrative is Alonso is better than Smith; that Smith is a bust. Lost in that is Smith is younger, and he has taken his lumps. He has the chance to learn what he has to do. Much like how he kept the weight off last season, we may see a more mature Smith who has taken the next step forward to become a productive Major League player.
It does not make sense to overlook Smith. He is still young, and he still has potential. For all we know, he may still yet prove to be better than Alonso. It’s also true Alonso is the better player. At this point, it is all theory, and since it is theory, no possibilities should be discounted. That includes allowing Smith the opportunity to outplay Alonso and win the first base job not just in 2019 but in the ensuing seasons.
If the Mets are truly doing the right thing, they should let each player get a real shot at first base. That means Smith and Alonso. It also means Frazier and the rest of the roster. Ultimately, you win the division by sending out your best players. Today, the Mets think that’s Alonso, and that’s fine. The real trick is having an open mind to pivot from that decision if Alonso struggles or someone else proves themselves.
Back in 2015, the Mets somehow held onto a Game 5 and series clinching win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite having nothing, Jacob deGrom kept the Dodgers to two runs over six innings. That was more than enough as Daniel Murphy took over that game in what was one of the truly great postseason games a player has ever had.
He’d double home the first run of the game in the first off Zack Greinke. On a fourth inning walk to Lucas Duda, Murphy went first to third against a shifted and lackadaisical Dodgers infield allowing him to score the tying run on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly.
The big blow came in the sixth when Murphy hit the go-ahead homer putting the Mets up 3-2.
At the time, the Mets seemed to be the young team on the rise. In addition to deGrom, Syndergaard, and Familia, the team had Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and eventually Zack Wheeler again.
In 2016, both teams returned to the postseason. The Mets captured the top Wild Card spot only to be shut out by Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. That year, the Dodgers would lose in the NLCS to the eventual World Series winning Chicago Cubs (two years later and that sentence still seems bizarre).
After that, the Mets have had consecutive losing seasons while the Dodgers have gone to back-to-back World Series. Why?
Well, for starters, the Dodgers build a deep team with a deep bench. They do not have top heavy rosters which crumble when there is one injury. For example, Clayton Kershaw has not thrown over 175.0 innings in a season since that NLDS, and yet, the Dodgers remain a great team.
Also, while the Mets are off purging the Murphys and Justin Turners of the world, the Dodgers are finding them. In addition to Turner, we have also seen Chris Taylor and Max Muncy figure things out in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers are also not afraid to take risks or trust their young players. Gone from the 2015 team are Howie Kendrick, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Jimmy Rollins. Instead, the Dodgers have players like Cody Bellinger.
For the Mets part, well, Adrian Gonzalez was their Opening Day first baseman.
Mostly, the separation has been financial. The Dodgers ownership has been willing and motivated to keep this championship window as open as possible, and they have with the largest payroll in baseball.
The Dodgers are not just a financial juggernaut, but they are also a supremely well run organization. This is a complete opposite of what the Mets have been, and judging from their current GM search, will continue to be.
This is all why the Dodgers are competing for World Series while the Mets are once again also-rans.
Last night, Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario collided in the outfield leading to a ball dropping and the go-ahead run scoring. When a gaffe like this happens, many are sent looking to pin blame. As has often happens since he was first called up to the majors, Smith was an easy target.
Before looking to levy the blame on him, it is important to review just how Smith became a left fielder.
Back in 2011, the now defunct Sandy Alderson regime made Brandon Nimmo their first ever draft pick. Since that time, the Mets have drafted and signed just 27 outfield prospects.
The breakdown goes: 2011 (six), 2012 (none), 2013 (three), 2014 (five), 2015 (three), 2016 (three), 2017 (four), 2018 (three).
Putting aside Nimmo and Michael Conforto, the outfielders the Mets have drafted since 2011 have played a combined 35 games at the Major League level.
Currently, the Las Vegas roster only has one outfielder drafted from the aforementioned draft classes on their roster – Kaczmarski. Kaczmarski is currently battling for playing time with players like Zach Borenstein, Bryce Brentz, Matt den Dekker, and Patrick Kivlehan.
Binghamton had Tim Tebow playing everyday because there really wasn’t a Mets draftee pushing him out of the lineup.
Champ Stuart, the Mets 2013 sixth round pick, is repeating the level, and he is hitting .136/.280/.264. Patrick Biondi, the Mets 2013 ninth round pick, is also repeating the level, and he is hitting .222/.333/.247.
Overall, that’s just three part time outfield draft picks playing in the upper levels of their minor league system. Combine them with Nimmo and Conforto, and that makes just five outfield draft picks playing in Double-A or high from the past eight drafts.
Given how much the Mets drafts have not provided much in terms of outfield depth, the Mets were faced with calling up a Major League has been or never was or to give the shot to Smith. Given how Peter Alonso was nipping at Smith’s heels from Double-A, learning another position did make some sense.
Believe it or not, Smith in the outfield was not as absurd a proposition as it may sound. He entered the year leaner and faster. As noted by Baseball Savant, his sprint speed is better Jose Bautista and Jay Bruce, two players the Mets have felt eminently comfortable in the outfield. When he was drafted, Baseball America noted Smith had a strong arm and was a “fringy defender with below-average speed” in the outfield.
Still, the Mets were forced into that position because of how they handled Smith.
After he struggled last year, they were wise to bring in competition for him in Spring Training in the form of Adrian Gonzalez. Partially due to Smith’s injury in Spring Training, Gonzalez did win the job. However, he played poorly.
In 21 April games, Gonzalez hit .227/.312/.394. After going 3-for-4 with two solo homers in a game at Cincinnati, Gonzalez returned to form hitting just .267/.323/.350 over his next 20 games leading to his eventual release.
With the way Gonzalez was playing, there was a real chance to call-up Smith and give him a shot. The Mets passed, and they instead decided to stick with a guy who was not producing.
When the Mets finally released Gonzalez, they gave Smith three games to prove he could produce at the Major League level. In those three games, he went 4-for-12 with a double, homer, and an RBI. After that three game stretch, Wilmer Flores came off the disabled list, and he was given the first base job.
With Flores being bestowed the first base job, Smith’s great experiment in the outfield truly began. With Smith not playing well in the outfield, he found himself on the bench, and eventually, he would head back to Triple-A. When he was sent back to Triple-A, he was entrenched as the left fielder because Alonso had been called up and given the first base job.
In the end, you have a former first round draft pick and former Top 100 prospect playing out of position because the Mets have failed to give Smith a chance, the team has failed to develop outfield prospects at the upper levels of their minor league system, and the team is more willing to give failing veterans a chance over a younger player who could improve with Major League coaching and playing time.
Overall, that is how you get a promising prospect in the outfield, and that is how you have two young players colliding in the outfield and costing the Mets a game.
Dom Smith. Amed Rosario. The Mets. Truly unbelievable stuff.
**CUE THE MUSIC** pic.twitter.com/yclRui1w4k
— Kris Venezia (@KVenezia1) August 21, 2018
Now, looking at that play ad nauseum, that’s Smith’s ball.
Yes, a more experienced left fielder is more aware on the play, and he would make a stronger call for the call.
For his part, Rosario should know who is in left, and he should have made a stronger call for the ball instead of acting like a timid second grader unsure of whether he really knew the answer to the teacher’s question.
That’s important when you consider Smith actually called for the ball first:
“It’s part of the game. I heard he called it real quick even before I was under the ball.”
When'd you heard him: “When I was ready to call it. It was too late.”
Who's ball: “He has the ball in front of him so I’m running backward. He has more choice/better view."
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) August 21, 2018
While it’s easy to pin the blame on this, it’s important to note this wouldn’t have been an issue if the veterans who the Mets insist on playing actually delivered.
On the night, Jackson was 1-6, and he left five men on base.
Jose Reyes had the same situation in the 11th, and he softly lined out to Crawford.
On the night, Reyes was 0-5, and he loved left four runners on base.
Good thing he started over Jeff McNeil who singled in his only at-bat.
Really, the Mets offense did absolutely nothing after the Wilmer Flores RBI double. In fact, Flores was the only Met who was hitting with him going 3-6.
Jose Bautista, the other outfielder who has been playing over Smith, was 0-5 with three left on base.
Ultimately, the Mets played four 30+ year old impending free agents over younger players, and the four went 1-for-21 while stranding 13 runners on base.
In addition to Bautista and Jackson starting in the outfield, the Mets started Jack Reinheimer in left field, a player with only eight innings of outfield experience in the majors and 49.0 innings in the minors.
This became an issue in the seventh inning.
Heading into the seventh, Zack Wheeler had been absolutely brilliant pitching six scoreless innings. Those six scoreless innings included his Houdini act in the fifth inning.
After an Evan Longoria double, the Giants had runners on second and third with no outs. Wheeler responded by striking out Steven Duggar, Alen Hanson, and Derek Holland to get out of the jam. Wheeler was so close to repeating the trick in the seventh.
Wheeler issued a leadoff walk to Crawford, which would be the only walk Wheeler would allow on the day. Trouble was brewing immediately as Brandon Belt singled to set up runners at first and second with no outs. It would be runners at the corners with one out after Crawford moved to third when Longoria lined out to Bautista.
After Duggar struck out again, Wheeler got Hanson to pop up to left. With Rosario shifted over, and the inexperienced Reineheimer playing deeper than an experienced left fielder, the ball fell past the outstretched hands of Rosario. Reinheimer was nowhere to be seen.
After the game, Wheeler channeled his inner Jon Niese and griped about players playing out of position, which led to the ball falling. Wheeler was speaking about the shift, but considering how the Mets both the game and this season, he might as well have been talking about how the Mets play all of their players out of position.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Mets had a chance to get back the lead. McNeil and Michael Conforto, two left-handed batters sat against the immortal Derek Holland, came up in successive pinch hitting attempts against the Giants bullpen, specifically Tony Watson. They hit consecutive one out singles to set up runners at the corners with one out.
Rosario hit a 3-2 pitch for an inning ending double play.
To their credit, the booth did discuss how Crawford charged in a couple of steps to get the Rosario grounder, which led him to beat Rosario by less than a full step in turning the double play.
Overall, the Mets lost this game because of their refusal to play young players over the veterans. Maybe if Smith was playing in the majors instead of Jackson, when this play happens, he and Rosario have the communication issues hammered. Perhaps, if the Mets didn’t decided a done Adrian Gonzalez was a better option than him, Smith would have been a first base, and this never would have been an issue.
In the end, we will never know because the Mets would rather play 30+ year old players who no other team wanted at the trade deadline to try to win some meaningless games which could only hurt their draft position.
Game Notes: Wheeler’s seventh inning walk to Crawford was the first walk yielded by Mets pitching in 25 innings.
Well, the impossible has happened. After 17 tries the Mets have finally won a series. It’s been a long time.
The last series the Mets won was the May 18th – May 20th sweep of the Diamondbacks.
At that time, the Mets were 23-19 and just 3.5 games back. The winning pitcher, Noah Syndergaard didn’t have any issues with his finger, or his hand, foot, or mouth.
Today, the Mets won with Corey Oswalt picking up his first career win. His final line was five innings, three hits, two earned, two walks, and four strikeouts.
Later that inning, Mickey Callaway would face a tough decision. With two outs and the Mets down 2-1, should he pull Oswalt and chase the win, or should he keep Oswalt in and hope for another rally.
Callaway opted to pinch hit for Oswalt despite his just having thrown 62 pitches. Callaway’s decision was rewarded when Phillip Evans hit a pinch hit RBI single to tie the score.
The move looked even better when Amed Rosario hit a two RBI single to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.
That lead grew to 6-2 with Bautista hitting a two run homer:
Hasta Bautista! ? pic.twitter.com/Mndd4etjko
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 25, 2018
Then considering it is the Mets bullpen at work, it was time to hold on for dear life.
Robert Gsellman would relieve Peterson with one out and one, and he would preserve the 6-4 lead.
Anthony Swarzak would then have his best outing as a Mets pitching two scoreless to pick up the save.
For Swarzak, it was more than just two scoreless innings, it was his throwing 95 with a really good slider. Really, he looked like the guy who the Mets thought they were signing.
Some more of that, and suddenly, things look much better for this team next year.
Game Notes: For reasons no one can explain, Reyes started over Jeff McNeil. Before the game, Cespedes announced he el have season ending surgery.
With the Mets being unsure about Dominic Smith, and the team not expecting Peter Alonso to break out the way he has this past season, the team took a flyer on Adrian Gonzalez to at least compete for the Opening Day first base job.
Really, this was a flyer on a prideful player who has had a terrific Major League career. While Cooperstown may not being calling him, the former first round draft pick has had a fine career having done great things for the Padres and the Dodgers.
One of the reasons Gonzalez made the Mets Opening Day roster was his professionalism. He came to Spring Training, and he put in the work. Considering that work included his having to stretch and prepare two hours before the game just to get ready, it speaks to his desire to play well, and perhaps, to end his career on his own terms.
On Opening Day, he seemed to shut up many detractors hitting a go-ahead double to give the Mets the lead. From there, Gonzalez would have a number of good moments for the Mets, including his grand slam against the Nationals:
Another one of his biggest moments was his coming off the bench in a tight 1-1 game in Miami. Against the left-handed Chris O’Grady, Gonzalez hit a go-ahead RBI single that not only gave the Mets the lead, but hit also sparked a four run rally. At the time, it increased the Mets record to 10-1.
The one thing you could count on from Gonzalez was a professional at-bat. It may be why he was such an effective pinch hitter on the days he didn’t start. As a pinch hitter, he was 4-6 with two RBI and a walk.
His professional at-bats are probably why he was one of the Mets better hitters in the clutch. In what Baseball Reference characterizes as “High Leverage” situations, Gonzalez hit .368/.444/.553 with four doubles, a homer, and 16 RBI with five walks.
The problem for Gonzalez was not every at-bat was a pinch hitting appearance or in a high leverage situation. Overall, he hit .237/.299/.373 with five doubles, six homers, and 26 RBI. Like the rest of this Mets team, his numbers were dragged down by his recent slide with him hitting .179/.207/.268 over his past 17 games.
With the way the team has been playing of late, the Mets didn’t have the time to see if he could get back to being the .265/.341/.425 hitter he was towards the end of May.
During his tenure with the Mets, Gonzalez was able to get to 1,202 RBI. That made him just one of 22 first baseman in the history of the game to have 400 doubles, 300 homers, and 1,200 RBI.
It’s possible this is the end for him. If it is, it was a great career that saw him hit .287/.358/.485 with 317 homers and 1,202 RBI. He made five All Star teams while winning four Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers.
He had a very good career, and despite the recent struggles, he actually acquitted himself pretty well with the Mets. If nothing else, he did show there was something left in the tank.
Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess, but wherever he lands, best of luck to him.
Well , once again Adrian Gonzalezis playing poorly. Including last night’s 0-for–3 with two strikeouts, he’s hitting .239/.304/.374 on the season.
Those numbers are unacceptable from a defensive catcher let alone a team’s everyday first baseman.
It’s not like he’s mired in a slump, or those numbers are the result of a poor start. Basically speaking, this is who Gonzalez has been all year. It’s time to make a switch.
That switch should start with Dominic Smith getting called-up to play in Gonzalez’s place, but with him hitting .267/.350/.379 in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, he hasn’t earned the Mets first base job.
This is the point where most Mets fans cry out for Peter Alonso, who has been tearing up Double-A hitting .313/.448/.582 with nine doubles, 15 homers, and 49 RBI.
Despite the enthusiasm those stats garner, there are some concerns about making such a move.
For starters, Alonso pulls the ball 44.1% of the time making it easy for MLB teams to shift against him. This will likely lead to his .343 BABIP cratering.
Another consideration is his 23.4 percent HR/FB ration. It’s just a terrific number. The question is just how sustainable that is. As a point of reference, Alonso had a 16.8 percent home run to fly ball ratio last year. That’s a big jump, which puts him into Giancarlo Stanton territory.
Alonso has real power, but being at Stanton’s level is perhaps a higher stratosphere many believed he would be.
There’s also the fact he’s in a slump going just seven for his last 38 (.184) with only one homer. The one positive there is he continues to draw walks.
His continuing to draw walks speaks to a much better approach at the plate, which has helped fuel his power numbers.
There’s also his defensive issues. While Alonso is much improved with his more slender physique, he’s made six errors this year, which is a .985 fielding percentage.
There may be other things the Mets could cite for their decision to not being him up, including but not limited to how big a jump it is to go from Double-A to the majors.
Whatever the case. whoever is playing first base now is likely just a stopgap for when Yoenis Cespedes returns from the disabled list.
And if Bruce is at first, there’s no room for Gonzalez or Alonso on this roster any longer. With no real playing time available, mostly due to the presence of Bruce on this roster, the Mets likely don’t want to call up Alonso. Rather, the better decision is to let him continue to improve in Double or Triple-A.
Ultimately, it is the Mets decision to give Bruce a three year $39 million deal, even with the Mets already being set at the corner outfield position, that is going to be the major impediment to the Mets properly addressing their first base situation.
It was as if the Mets said to Jacob deGrom, “Here’s your run. Now go win this game.”
For five innings deGrom was brilliant, and he was keeping his pitch count down. It was as if he was going to make sure he wasn’t going to let the bullpen blow this one.
The bullpen wasn’t going to get that chance because the defense did.
A Tanaka grounder somehow ate up Adrian Gonzalez who booted it leading to Tanaka teaching with one out.
Naturally, Jay Bruce labored to get to the ball, and he made an absolutely dreadful season throw home that was already rolling by the first base bag.
The throw, which rolled past Gonzalez, was not in time to catch a hobbled Tanaka, who had to exit the game with a leg injury.
Because he’s Jake, and he’s great, he got out of that jam allowing just the one earned run.
That said, we knew the Mets were going to lose this one. It really was an inevitability from a team who has not scored more than one run in a game since the first of this month. That stretch is made all the worse when you consider it includes a 14 inning game.
Mets had a golden chance in the sixth withJonathan Holder needing to warm up on the fly to get ready to pitch that inning. They went down 1-2-3.
That was a real shame because it set the stage for deGrom to lose his first game of the season.
After a Torres two out single, Gardner got a hold of one which bounced off the top of the right field wall for a two run homer.
If you woke up from a coma, you might’ve gotten excited in the bottom of the ninth.
After Michael Conforto flew out to center, Todd Frazier hit a ball hard that Miguel Andujar made a nice play on. That said, it was a somewhat slow moving play, and it was a play that only Cabrera would be out at second.
To put a nice capper on everything, Bruce popped out to end the game because he apparently had not done enough to help cost the Mets this game.
Game Notes: Noah Syndergaard suffered a setback and won’t be activated for Sunday. Seth Lugo will start in his place. Jeurys Familia was placed on the DL before the game, and Jacob Rhame was called up to take his place.
In a scathing article from David Lennon of Newsday set to take Mickey Callaway to task for the Mets recent poor play ultimately concluding that under Callaway’s 57 game tenure as a manager, the Mets are, “A lot of talk, accomplishing nothing.”
Really, it was full of quick barbs and cheap shots like this gem:
So after two more losses, one lousy run scored in the last 24 innings and a pair of Little League-quality blunders in Sunday’s sweep-completing 2-0 loss to the Cubs, we’re wondering what Mickey Callaway has planned next for the Mets.
A how-to seminar on the basics of baseball? A weeklong retreat to restore all of this depleted self-esteem? Maybe a clubhouse visit by Tony Robbins?
This is just emblematic of how Callaway, who is in a no-win situation is now fair game for mocking, ridicule, and blame. What is interesting is these downright insults really overlook what Callaway has accomplished in his brief tenure.
Jacob deGrom has gone to a level we had never seen him pitch. For a Mets organization who looked at Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as enigmas, Callaway has helped turn them into terrific relievers. Speaking of enigmas, the Mets have recently seen Zach Wheeler and Steven Matz turn a corner. It that holds true this rotation will be every bit as formidable as we all hoped it would be.
Offensively, Brandon Nimmo has gone from fourth outfielder to a terrific lead0ff hitter who leads all National League outfielders in OBP and OPS. Amed Rosario has been making continued strides. After beginning his career hitting .245/.275/.371 with a 27.6% strikeout rate, since May 1st, Rosario is an improved .274/.291/.415 with a 16.4% strikeout rate. It may not seem like much, but it’s a stark improvement.
We have also seen the Mets go dumpster diving for players like Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and Devin Mesoraco. Somehow, these players have been much improved with the Mets than their prior stops, and they have salvaged their MLB careers.
The obvious question from here is if all this is true than why are the Mets 27-30 and in fourth place after such a terrific start?
Much of that answer, i.e. the blame, is attributable to the Mets front office.
Despite time and again facing the same injury issues over and over again, the team AGAIN mishandled a Yoenis Cespedes leg injury, and they are having Jay Bruce and Asdrubal Cabrera play poorly through their own injuries. What’s hysterical about this is Sandy Alderson actually utter the words, “Honestly, sometimes I think we’re a little too cautious with how we approach injuries.”
He’s also made a number of blunders with the in-season managing of this roster.
Consider this. After short start, the Mets designated P.J. Conlon in a series of roster moves to help bring up three fresh arms including Scott Copeland. After Copeland pitched 1.1 scoreless in his only appearance, the Mets called up Jose Lobaton and his -0.6 WAR for the intended purpose of allowing Kevin Plawecki and his .198/.282/.288 split against left-handed pitchers at first base to face Mike Montgomery.
Meanwhile, a Mets organization loses Conlon as the Dodgers claimed him, and a Mets organization who has been wringing their hands to find a second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, looked on as Buddy Baumann get lit up for four runs on three hits and two walks in the 14th inning of a game the Cubs had not scored a run in over three hours.
The front office’s decision making gets worse and worse the more you look at it.
For some reason, they insist on keeping Jose Reyes on the roster. This, coupled with the aforementioned Gonzalez and Bautista signings, is emblematic of an organization more willing to trust in done veterans reclaiming their past glory than giving a young player like Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Peter Alonso, or even Gavin Cecchini (before his injury) a chance.
This was one of the reasons why the Mets signed Bruce to a three year deal this offseason. No, this was not insurance against Michael Conforto‘s shoulder. Three year $39 million deals are not that. Rather, this signing showed: (1) the Mets wanted a Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce outfield for the next three years; and (2) the team did not have any faith Nimmo could handle playing everyday at the MLB level on even a limited basis.
Now, the Mets what looks to be an injured $39 million albatross in right, who doesn’t even know to call off a back peddling second baseman with a runner on third.
That’s bad defense, which is something the Mets actively welcome with all of their personnel decisions. Really, the team has spent the past few seasons looking to plug non-center fielders in center while playing players out of position all across the infield.
Despite what the Lennon’s of the world will tell us, the poor defense and lack of basic fundamentals isn’t Callaway’s doing. No, it is the result of an organizational philosophy.
The Bruce signing has such short and long term implications. With his salary, will the Mets bench him instead of Nimmo or Gonzalez when Cespedes comes back healthy. Will the organization let his salaries in future years block Alonso or Dominic Smith at first base? Mostly, will his escalating salaries be another excuse why the team rolls the dice and gives a player like Jason Vargas $8 million instead of just going out and signing the player who really fills a need?
Sure, there are plenty of reasons to attack Callaway. His bullpen management has been suspect at times. Lately, he’s been managing more out of fear than attacking the game to try to get the win. Really, this is part of a learning curve for a first time manager in a new league.
It’s a learning curve that could have been helped by a long time veteran National League manager. Instead, Sandy Alderson thought it best to hire a Gary Disarcina to be the bench coach because who better to help a young first time manager in a new league than a player who has spent his entire playing, front office, and minor league managerial career in the American League?
Really, that’s just one of several examples of how Alderson has set up both Callaway and this entire Mets team to fail in 2018.