Perhaps no one in the history of the New York Mets has gotten more chances to prove themselves than Rafael Montero. The fact that is true has continued to baffle and irritate Mets fans who have watched him pitch to a 5.38 ERA and 1.705 WHIP in his Major League career.
But it’s more than that. The Mets have questioned his competitiveness and his toughness. They have even had him suffer the indignity to being demoted to Double-A. Nothing seems to work, and yet he remains on the Mets roster. Worse yet, he remains while talented pitchers who have produced are sent packing.
If we are being fair, we should pinpoint the 2016 season as the breaking point. In 2014, Montero acquitted himself well in his limited time, and in 2015, Montero suffered an injury, albeit one the Mets doubted truly existed. Montero would get a chance again in 2016. There’s no sugar coating just how poorly he pitched. About the only place he pitched well was Binghamton, and he wasn’t exactly stellar there going 4-3 with a 3.12 ERA.
And yet, Montero remained a Met.
After the 2016 season, the Mets traded both Gabriel Ynoa and Logan Verrett to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations to help clear up space on the 40 man roster. The team would lose Matthew Bowman in the Rule 5 Draft. An injured Sean Gilmartinwas designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Because of these moves and because of all the injuries, Montero got another chance in 2017. He would reward the Mets faith and patience by going 5-11 with a 5.52 ERA, 1.748 WHIP, 5.1 BB/9, and an 8.6 K/9.
In an effort to be as fair as possible to Montero, he did get his first real extended chance to prove he belongs in the majors. From June 15th until the end of the season, he was on the Major League roster, and he would make 21 appearances and 16 starts. In that stretch, he was 5-7 with a 4.98 ERA, 1.591 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, and an 8.5 K/9.
Certainly, that was better, but it was not significantly different than his career numbers, which just have not been the caliber of a Major League starting pitcher. While you may not feel as if the Mets lost much of value in the aforementioned pitchers lost, the healthy pitchers in the group undoubtedly pitched better than Montero last year.
Now, the Mets are repeating their same mistakes. After the conclusion of the 2017 season, the team drafted Burch Smithin the Rule 5 Draft and sold him to the Kansas City Royals. To make room for Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez on the 40 man roster, Kevin McGowan and Chasen Bradford were designated for assignment.
While McGowan struggled in his time in the majors last year, Bradford certainly did not. In fact, Bradford was one of the few pleasant surprises last season. In 28 major league appearances, he was 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA, 1.277 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, and a 7.2 K/9. Montero would have to significantly improve to match those numbers, and yet, he is the one that remains on the 40 man roster.
At some point, push is finally going to come to shove, and Montero will no longer be a part of the Mets organization. With Montero being out of options, maybe this year is the year. Maybe not. After all, the Mets do have spots open for competition in the Opening Day bullpen, and by now I’m sure the Mets have talked themselves into believing Mickey Callawayand Dave Eiland will turn Montero into the next Dennis Eckersley.
Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMO
Look, when a team is introducing a player to the media in a press conference, by its very nature it is a promotional event. The organization is showing off their player to the fans thereby building excitement among the fan base with the hopes this eventually entices the fans to buy tickets for the season.
However, this is supposed to be a quid pro quo of sorts. A team like the Mets gets to have more publicity surrounding their acquisition of a player like Jay Bruce, and in turn, the reporters are given an opportunity to ask questions about the team.
We did see that as reporters asked Sandy Alderson an array of questions covering topics like Michael Conforto‘s timetable, the first base situation with Adrian Gonzalez and Dominic Smith, the status of the bullpen, the second base situation, and whether the Mets could add another contract this offseason.
That last topic. That’s one that could have partially been addressed by ownership, specifically Jeff Wilpon. As the COO of the Mets, Wilpon would have intimate knowledge of that information. He also possesses the answer to several other burning questions both reporters and Mets fans want to see answered.
The interesting thing was Jeff Wilpon was at that press conference . . .
Jay Bruce is again a Met. pic.twitter.com/1Jlp0HVRuA
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) January 17, 2018
. . . but not really, Right after this photo, Jeff Wilpon got off the stage, and he sat in the front row effectively removing himself from the press conference just as the floor was going to be opened to reporters.
Once again, the Mets deftly controlled the press conference with the questions being granted to the following reporters:
- Garry Apple, SNY
- Pete McCarthy, WOR
- Anthony DiComo, mlb.com
- Lloyd Carroll, Queens ChronicleNot one question from a major media outlet or newspaper that covers the Mets. Instead, the Mets directed questions to their television network, the “Radio Home of the Mets,” an MLB reporter, and finally a small local Queens newspaper. If you have watched enough of these, this has become standard operating procedure for the Mets.
Here’s the best part. When reviewing the SNY video feed, all reporters are directed to the left of the stage to continue asking questions. If you pay close enough attention to the video, right at the 20:50 mark, you will see this:
That’s right. Just as the reporters are told to go left, Jeff heads right. There is really no other way to describe Jeff’s behavior and the Mets control of the press conference as ownership yet again ducking the media. You are almost left in complete awe of the lengths to which the Wilpons will ensure they do not have to interact with the media. If they put even a tenth of that effort into the Mets, they would be perennial contenders.
Overall, we as Mets fans can get frustrated about both the lack of transparency from the organization, and how the reporters don’t ask the Wilpons the hard questions that need to be asked. In reviewing this press conference, we see just how much the Wilpons stonewall the media and the lengths they will go to not be accountable to anyone.
Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMO
Well, they won’t anymore as Granderson has signed a one year $5 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.
As we learned from his four years in Queens, any team that adds Granderson has done well for themselves. He’s a tremendous person and mentor in the clubhouse. More than that, he’s a good and durable baseball player.
Considering these qualities, it really is surprising the Mets showed no interest in a Granderson reunion. Last year, Granderson was a 1.5 WAR player, who played all three outfield positions. That’s important because the team doesn’t know when Michael Conforto will be able to return. On top of that, Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares cannot stay healthy.
Instead of looking for a versatile outfielder, the Mets opted to focus on 1B/OF due to the rookie season of Dominic Smith. In looking to sure that up, the Mets signed both Bruce and eventually Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez is the more interesting signing of the two because he is the anti-Granderson.
For his part, Gonzalez is not a healthy player, has not played well on the East Coast, and he has not been seen as a good clubhouse presence. Considering the purported issues in the clubhouse late last year, Mickey Callaway managing for the first time in his career, and no one on the coaching staff having any MLB managerial experience this situation seems less than ideal. Actually, it seems like it could be an impending disaster.
The reason no one is really questioning the Mets thought process here is because we all know why the Mets made the decisions they made. Mostly, the team would rather have Gonzalez making the minimum than having Granderson for $5 million. They would also rather bet on a 31 year outfielder for three years instead of a 37 year old one for one year.
On the converse, the Mets opted to try to resurrect the career of an injured soon to be 36 year old first baseman rather than have Bruce at first and Granderson in right.
Whether this proves to be the correct decision remains to be seen. However, we do know one thing – you are always better off having a player and person like Granderson in your clubhouse. For that, the Blue Jays are better today, and the Mets aren’t.
After the 2017 season ended, and the Mets set out to build their roster for the 2018 season, the most glaring need was a second baseman. Given the options in free agency and the state of the Mets farm system, it also proved to be one of the most difficult holes to fill.
Initially, the Mets did act prudently by looking to obtain Ian Kinsler from the Detroit Tigers. While he was coming off a down year offensively, he was still a very good defender at the position. If rumors were true, the Mets stepped up and they made the best offer to the Detroit Tigers.
The problem was Kinsler had a no trade clause to the Mets. He used that clause to force a deal to the Angels. Very likely, the reason was all of the gaps in the Mets roster and their limited budget this offseason.
Speaking of the limited budget, yes, we can absolutely blame the Wilpons for not fully investing in this team. While many will defend them on the concept of finances, it should be noted the Wilpons did have money to invest in an eSports team and the Islanders new arena.
With that said, there was money to be spent. Yes, it wasn’t enough, but if spent properly, there was enough to at least build a credible roster. The problem is Sandy Alderson isn’t spending the money wisely.
Certainly, you can justify the Anthony Swarzak signing. If the Mets have any intentions of competing next year, they needed an extra arm to bring to Jeurys Familia in the ninth. With Swarzak joining AJ Ramos to set up for Familia, the Mets have a good 7-8-9 tandem. With Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland, you can reasonably assume the Mets will be able to find an arm or two to join Jerry Blevins to form a good if not formidable bullpen.
The problem is what Sandy Alderson has done with the money since signing Swarzak at the close of the Winter Meetings.
The first issue was a trade for Jason Kipnis was rejected by someone with the Mets. The natural culprits are the Wilpons as the reports said someone higher up. It’s a baffling decision because even if you have your concerns about him, he’s a good fit in the lineup and in the clubhouse. There’s also the benefit of his knowing Callaway from their days in Cleveland.
Of course, this means three things. The first is the team is all but done with Dominic Smith, at least for the 2018 season. The second is Michael Conforto is likely out longer than advertised. The third is the Mets are effectively punting on second base.
Howie Kendrick, who was a viable second base candidate, is now off the board, and with him went the last reasonable shot at getting a starting second baseman in free agency. That is, unless, you believe Eduardo Nunez, will now be healthy, capable of playing second, and the Mets have enough to sign him.
If you want someone in a trade, like Josh Harrison, get in line. Teams with much deeper systems, like the Yankees, have interest in him as well. As a result, this means the Mets are out on him.
Overall, this means the Mets are going to bring back Jose Reyes to play second alongside Amed Rosario. This is the same Reyes who was one of the worst regulars in all of baseball last year. He had a -0.6 WAR, a 94 wRC+, and he accomplished the astounding feat of posting a negative DRS at FOUR positions. One of those was second where he had a -5 DRS in 207.1 innings.
And remember the last time Reyes played second base full time? That would be the 2004 season when the Mets big acquisition was Kaz Matsui. When your offseason plan mirrors the plans of your 2004 plans, you know the Mets are in trouble.
And yes, they are. They’re in trouble because they don’t have the money to spend and because Sandy Alderson isn’t spending it wisely. Consider for a second, Matt Adams and Kendrick, two versatile players that would have been immensely helpful to the Mets for depth and/or platoons, signed with the Nationals for a combined $11 million. That’s less than a million more they are paying Bruce and Gonzalez on a team that already had Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Wilmer Flores, and Smith.
Overall, the Mets may not have had much money to spend, but whatever money they did have, Sandy Alderson squandered it away on duplicative players. Remember that when the Mets second base situation holds the team back throughout the 2018 season.
Heading into this offseason, THE major hole on the Mets roster was second base. So naturally, the Mets went out and have made sure to collect a bunch of first base options:
That’s right. The Mets brought in Gonzalez. On a Major League deal to boot. Presumably because teams were beating down the door of a soon to be 36 year old first baseman with back problems who skipped out on a postseason run with the team to go on vacation.
Clearly, the Mets were enticed by his .242/.287/.355 slash line.
In all seriousness, this move makes no sense on many levels.
First, the team already had Bruce to move to first if Smith wasn’t ready. Second, Smith might be ready by Opening Day, and he’s now blocked by a broken down player. Third, there were plenty of options available.
Nope, the Mets went with the cheapest option available, which is not at all surprising:
Mets: Dom is bad. We need a new first baseman.
Santana's Agent: He wants $20 million a year.
Mets: We were too harsh on Dom. He's our first baseman of the future.
Braves: We're releasing Gonzalez
Gonzalez's Agent: He wants league minimum
Mets: Yo Adrian!
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) December 20, 2017
While all this tomfoolery was happening, the Mets nixed a deal for Jason Kipnis because, wait for it, he makes too much money. They’ll say not a good value, but essentially, it’s the same thing to the Mets.
Kipnis is likely the best option available to them at second. Many will say Josh Harrison, but with teams with much deeper minor league systems also pursuing him, it’s not likely the Mets emerge out on top.
At this point, with Bruce and Anthony Swarzak likely having eaten up the offseason budget, aside from Gonzalez type deals, it means the 2018 second baseman is likely on this roster.
With Jose Lobaton already in the fold, every Mets fan should know that the second base plan is for next season.