Asdrubal Cabrera

Mets Ruining Old Timers Day With Reyes Invitation

One of the best things Steve Cohen has done in terms of fan engagement is Old Timers’ Day. The New York Mets now have their own history, and we now get the opportunity to celebrate it. Apparently, fans aren’t the only ones eager to celebrate it.

We have seen a number of players eager to return. Already on the docket are a who’s who of Mets greats including Mike Piazza, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Howard Johnson, John Franco, Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Daniel Murphy, Mookie Wilson, and many, many more. Really, Mets players are coming out of the woodwork to try to attend this event.

With every name came more excitement and more fond memories. Then, the Mets announced Jose Reyes was returning.

While the Mets were blowing Game 4 of the 2015 World Series, Reyes was in Hawaii grabbing his wife by the neck and throwing her into glass doors. The altercation was so violent, the hotel would need to call the police, and his wife would need to be taken by ambulance to a local hospital to be treated for her injuries.

The Colorado Rockies (who also had Trevor Story ready) were so appalled they released Reyes. There was a debate whether Reyes would ever play a game again. After all, who in the world would want someone like that on their team? It’s one thing to deal with someone on your roster. It is a whole other to proactively go out and sign that player (or acquire him if you are the New York Yankees and Aroldis Chapman).

Well, frankly, the Mets were cheap morons, and their third base plan for 2016 was David Wright. That lasted until May 27. After that, the Mets were trying to figure it out on the fly. Instead of looking to make a trade, they opted to do the whole dog-and-pony show of trying to rehabilitate Reyes’ image.

Reyes was decent enough, and he had a big homer against the Philadelphia Phillies. The media acquiesced with the Mets demands and wrote the necessary articles (yes, they are 100% complicit) to support the Mets bold move to cheap out and take bad a wife beater. Everyone was so happy the Mets brought Reyes back.

Well, third base wasn’t good enough anymore for Reyes. With Asdrubal Cabrera‘s thumb injury, Reyes pushed his way to short. It was a bad year for Reyes, and it was apparent to the Mets, they needed to pivot. Amed Rosario was called up at the end of the year to be the shortstop of the future, and in the offeseason, they had to sign Todd Frazier to play the third base Reyes no longer wanted to play.

Reyes agreed to be the utility player. Anything to help the team. Again, just talk.

Reyes didn’t really put the time in to succeed in the outfield. He was terrible, and he stopped playing there. Then, the sham of the narrative he was going to mentor Rosario was exposed when he whined to the media about it. This came at a time when the baseball world was wondering if he was done and would soon be ticketed for being designated for assignment. Instead, he was rewarded with more playing time.

Despite the beating of his wife and acting bigger than the organization, he was given a big send-off as part of the Wright festivities. He got to retire as the Mets leadoff hitter and shortstop. He deserved none of this.

After he beat his wife, the Mets had kept throwing him olive branch after olive branch. None were good enough for him. He showed a complete lack of gratitude to this organization. And now, he’s going to be rewarded by being brought back for Old Timers’ Day like he didn’t beat his wife and wasn’t a completely selfish jerk on his way out?

Seriously? This is Wilpon level garbage and has no place in the Steve Cohen era. In reality, Reyes has no business being at Citi Field for Old Timers Day even if he bought his own ticket.

Mets Had A Lot Of Good Despite Jacob deGrom

Look, when Jacob deGrom goes down, that’s the biggest and most important story. However, even with that, there was a lot of good that happened as the Mets won their fifth game in a row.

Michael Conforto made a phenomenal catch in the second, and later in the game, when he and Kevin Pillar collided, neither were injured.

deGrom got another hit and his batting average is .467. That starter a rally where Lindor and Conforto drove home runs.

On that topic, the Mets have seemingly mastered the art of the bases loaded walk. This time, it was Patrick Mazeika. What’s fascinating with Mazeika is he’s delivered two RBI in his young career without getting a hit.

Dominic Smith came through again with a clutch RBI.

Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor continued working their magic in the middle infield. That included two HUGE double plays.

The first helped bail deGrom out of a bases loaded no out jam. A run would score, but that would be it. This would not be the biggest one they turned.

In the eighth, the Mets were on the verge of blowing it. With the bullpen a bit taxed of late, Luis Rojas looked to see if he could get a second inning out of Jacob Barnes.

Right off the jump, it didn’t go well as old friend Asdrubal Cabrera led off the inning with a homer. When Josh Rojas hit a one out double, Rojas asked Edwin Diaz to do something he had done only once before in his career – earn a five out save.

It was made all the more difficult by the rain pouring down hard. That was evident when Diaz plunked Josh VanMeter. Diaz and the Mets were bailed out when McNeil and Lindor turned a huge double play off a David Peralta grounder.

This was a huge moment for Diaz. He usually struggles when brought into games with runners on base, and he’s struggled when asked to get more than three outs. Not today.

That was the case even when his job was made all the more difficult. After striking out the first two batters in the ninth, Nick Ahmed popped up, but Jonathan Villar couldn’t field it.

Over the past two plus years, this is when Diaz tends to fall apart. Instead, he bore down and struck out Daulton Varsho to end the game.

It was a huge save and a big win. The Mets won their fifth straight, and we saw a once maligned Rojas not only setting up his team to perform, but he’s also getting them to go above and beyond. Even with another big injury, things are still looking good.

Game Notes: Players wore pink for Mother’s Day. Diaz’s last five out save was in 2018. Mets are 14-2 this year when they score at least four runs.

Francisco Lindor And Mets Show Some Fight

This was the type of game which had the potential to spell doom for the entire New York Mets season. That’s not hyperbole either.

With a bullpen game the other day and another one due tomorrow, David Peterson was bad. He would get knocked out of the second inning after allowing three runs on three hits and three walks.

It would’ve been worse, but Robert Gsellman bailed Peterson out. That said, he did allow a run in the third putting the Mets behind 4-0 with the Diamondbacks pitching Zac Gallen.

Even with Francisco Lindor reaching on an “infield single” and advancing to second on an Asdrubal Cabrera error in the third and scoring on a Michael Conforto single, things were not getting better.

Lindor got booed again even with his making another sterling defensive play.

The Mets did get another run off Gallen in the sixth. Gallen issued a leadoff walk to Pete Alonso, who advanced to second on a fielder’s choice. Jonathan Villar came up huge with an RBI single to cut it to 4-2.

After that, things got weird and dark. It started with a seemingly innocuous play where Jeff McNeil didn’t get out of Lindor’s way on what proved to be a Nick Ahmed single. After what was a scoreless inning, an altercation seemingly ensued:

Conforto and Dominic Smith went down the tunnel. McNeil eventually emerged with what looked like a swollen eye. With Lindor due up, you could see McNeil has swelling around his eye. That wouldn’t be Lindor’s last big hit that inning.

After Tomas Nido, who had been double switched into the game, earned a lead-off walk, Lindor would get his first Citi Field homer:

That homer as well as the Mets bullpen allowing just the one run over the final 8.1 innings and some good defense allowed the Mets to get to that 4-4 tie.

One key play came in the ninth. Edwin Diaz hasn’t been good in tied games or with runners on base. That’s what made Conforto throwing out Cabrera trying to stretch a single to a double all the more important.

Aaron Loup was up next in extra innings. Because of the ever changing rules, a runner started the inning at second. Despite that. Loup would would get out of the inning unscathed. The same wouldn’t be true for the Mets. Smith was intentionally walked to start the inning, and with two outs, Villar singled to load the bases. That set the stage for rookie Patrick Mazeika to get his first career RBI.

That’s a good and uplifting win. It also wasn’t one without drama. Specifically, the issue if the altercation came up. Lindor did his part to downplay it saying he and McNeil were trying to determine if there was a rat or raccoon. It was neither, but it allowed the Mets to move on from it when with all the questions.

Game Notes: Luis Guillorme will not return from the IL tomorrow as anticipated.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Split Bizarre Shortened Series

Due to the rain-out yesterday, the New York Mets split a series against the Miami Marlins. There was a lot which happened in the span of those three days, which is just an indication of just how bizarre the start to this season has been:

1.  Not calling a game which had zero chance of ever getting played was a very Wilpon like decision. Hopefully, this is something that we will not see happen again.

2.  Whenever there is a threat of rain, teams should just use an opener. It is not worth wasting a pitcher’s turn through the rotation in the hopes of a game being played. Instead of getting someone like Robert Gsellman some work, the Mets are going to have to wait until Friday to see Marcus Stroman again.

3. Aside from David Peterson, the Mets starting pitching has been quite good this season. The best surprise might’ve been Taijuan Walker who looked like the pitcher many thought he would be when he was once a top 10 prospect in the game.

4. Why bother reading the Wilpon owned Mets website, when you can come here and read it done first and better?

5. Jeff McNeil was swinging a good bat and ran into some bad luck before hitting that clutch homer. That bat flip was reminiscent of the Asdrubal Cabrera one.

6. The umpires completely blew it when ruling Michael Conforto was hit by the pitch to force in the game winning run. The fact replay can’t fix that error is a failure of the system.

7. Just when you thought that was bad, on Sunday Night Baseball, Alec Bohm never touched home plate, was ruled safe, and the call was somehow upheld on replay. What is the point of the system when you can’t get obviously blown calls corrected?

8. By the way, Travis d’Arnaud did an amazing job receiving that throw and blocking the plate. There really is no one better in the game than him at doing that, and it is also notable the Mets have spent a ton of money on catchers who are no better than him.

9. These two plays are reminiscent of when Chase Utley went out of the baseline, tackled Ruben Tejada, never touched the bag, and was ruled safe on replay and awarded second base. By the way, the manager who asked for that review and wound up winning partially because of that absurdity was Don Mattingly, so he can save us from listening to his whining.

10. The booing of Conforto was ridiculous. Yes, he had a really bad four game stretch as all players are going to have during the course of the season. You would just think a player of his stature who has been a good Met for this long would have a longer leash than four games.

11. Dropping Conforto in the line-up was a pure panic decision. It’s not like he’s the only Mets player not hitting. For example, there was no booing of Pete Alonso despite his being hitless over his last 11 at-bats, and no one wants him dropped in the order. Remember, Conforto was great last year whereas Alonso comparatively struggled.

12. No, this is not a call to boo Alonso. It is also not a call to boo McNeil who has one hit this year. The same goes for James McCann and Francisco Lindor who have matching .176 batting averages with no extra base hits. It is was too soon to boo any of these players.

13. Conforto is eventually going to break out of his slump due to the ebbs and flows of the baseball season. His being dropped to fifth, sixth, or even seventh in the order will have nothing to do with hit.

14. If this was about rewarding the best hitters, Luis Guillorme would be playing everyday. That goes double when you consider J.D. Davis hit the IL. Guillorme is literally hitting .500 in his limited playing opportunities.

15. Brandon Nimmo has been phenomenal to start the season. He has flat out been the Mets best player with a 223 OPS+ and a 1 OAA in center. He’s been locked in to start the season. Yes, it is too soon to talk All-Star or even MVP consideration, but he looks like he’s poised to have a great year.

16. Of course, no one is better than Jacob deGrom. On the season, he has allowed one run over 14.0 innings while striking out 21. We are running out of words to describe how great he is.

17. We’re also running out of ways to describe just how terrible the lack of run support he receives is. It is beyond a joke deGrom is 0-1 to start the year. It’s really difficult to pinpoint the reason, but there is no rational explanation why this keeps happening.

18. Congrats to Joe Musgrove for throwing the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history. Doing that for the team you grew up rooting for is like Mike Baxter making the no-hitter saving catch for Johan Santana‘s. On that topic, Anthony DiComo certainly showed his true colors.

19. People need to stop this over the top criticism of Luis Rojas. We are five games into a disjointed season with COVID cancellations and front office blown decisions on a rain delay. Like all managers, he is not the one setting the lineup or deciding whether or not to play the games. He is working with the front office on these decisions, including scripting out how long the starters go and which relievers pitch. He’s just the face and fall guy for many of these decisions.

20. The Mets already have four games to make up this season. The bright side will be those games will come when Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco have returned.

Neon Moment of the Week: Jeff McNeil Bat Flip

The New York Mets did not get off to the best of starts to the 2021 season. Their first series was canceled due to the Washington Nationals being infected with COVID. They blew Jacob deGrom‘s first start, and they could never recover from David Peterson getting blitzed.

The team returned to Citi Field with a 1-2 record, and the team had a number of issues. There were a number of players scuffling, and that included Jeff McNeil. With McNeil, things were very different than they had been in past seasons.

Through no fault of his own, McNeil was dropped from the top to the bottom of the lineup. After starting the season 0-for-7, he was given the day off in the series finale. On his birthday, he was dropped to seventh in the lineup hitting behind Jonathan Villar. After starting the day 0-for-2, McNeil was due to lead-off the ninth with the Mets on verge of losing their home opener in very frustrating fashion.

In uncharacteristic fashion, McNeil did not swing at the first pitch. Of course, the pitch being out of the zone by a good margin does that. McNeil would work the count in his favor, and then Miami Marlins closer Anthony Bass would throw one inside, and McNeil would tie the game with his first hit of the season:

After connecting, McNeil would have a bat flip reminiscent of the one Asdrubal Cabrera had roughly five years ago. No, this was not a game of the same magnitude, but this was a special game. It was the Mets home opener, and it was the first home game with fans in the stands since the end of the 2019 season.

Lost in that hit was the fact McNeil had actually been hitting the ball extremely hard to start the season. Going to Baseball Savant, McNeil was hitting the ball hard and was barreling it up. It really was only a matter of time before we start to see McNeil hitting the ball like we knew he could. McNeil chose the best time to do it. He would not only tie the game, but he started a rally which ended with the Mets winning the game.

With McNeil busting out of his early season slump and his getting the Mets first real big hit of the season, his homer and bat flip is our first Neon Moment of the Week for the 2021 season!

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Mets-Nationals Opening Day Game Should’ve Been Played

Back on August 16, 2017, the New York Mets faced a rash of injuries. Instead of postponing the game, Travis d’Arnaud, a catcher, rotated with Asdrubal Cabrera between second and third all game long. The reason that happened is Major League Baseball does not cancel games when teams face injuries.

At times, this leads to tough and frankly bad decisions. A classic example was when the New York Mets took a risk by designating Darren O’Day so Nelson Figueroa could make a start. That led to O’Day getting claimed by the Texas Rangers. O’Day is still pitching now whereas Figueroa last pitched in the majors two years after this decision, and he had a full career arc as the Mets postgame analyst.

Point is, teams are forced to play through injuries. Baseball is unforgiving that way. However, when it comes to COVID teams are not forced to play. Sure, the Miami Marlins played with COVID last year, and Don Mattingly was rewarded for putting the entire season in jeopardy by naming him the National League Manager of the Year, but that is another story for another day.

On the eve of Opening Day, there was a Washington Nationals player who tested positive for COVID, and through contact tracing, an additional four Nationals players were put into quarantine. Since that first test, four other Nationals players have tested positive, and the Opening Day game between the Mets and and the Nationals has been postponed indefinitely.

Again, if there were five Mets players injured and unavailable on Opening Day, the Mets would have been forced to play the game. They would have been put in the position over whether they call up players or roll with the players they had available. Understandably, COVID is different than a torn hamstring, but not really in terms of player availability.

Because of COVID concerns, Major League Baseball has allowed teams to carry a taxi squad of five players with them on road trips. When not on road trips, those players are at the team’s alternate site. Put another way, Major League teams are supposed to have five players ready to be called up to play at a moment’s notice if there is a COVID issue. Coincidentally, that number coincides with the amount of players the Nationals had out.

Now, there are reports Max Scherzer, the Opening Day starter, was away from the team. So, we know he was available. Past him, we really don’t have any idea who could or could not play. On a related note, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said their entire team is in quarantine. Again, while there are reports both teams could play on Saturday, in reality, if the entire Nationals team is in quarantine, there is really no knowing when they will be able to play.

That puts the Mets at a significant disadvantage to start their season. The Mets were setting their rotation where they did not have to use a fifth starter early on in the season. That helped alleviate the loss of Carlos Carrasco, and it did give them a preview of Joey Lucchesi, who may be destined for the bullpen once Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard are ready to return. Again, this was the Mets plan, but now, they can’t execute their plan because the Nationals players got infected with COVID at a time when none of the other 29 teams had any issues.

The answer can’t be for the Mets and Nationals to cancel an entire series. This would have the Mets dormant for half a week before they have to travel to play a Phillies team who has already been playing. This is how you create injuries and problems. Again, if the Mets suffer injuries as a result of this, no one is postponing their games until that players is healthy.

Really, Major League Baseball has to have a better answer than to shut down a healthy team abiding by COVID protocols. The Nationals should be forced to call up their Triple-A team to play if that what is necessary. On that note, there is no Triple-A baseball until May. These are games on the schedule, and the weather is permitting them to play.

Instead, the Mets are going to have to scrap their plans for the rotation, be forced to play cold against teams already warmed up, and they are going to have to force games in later in the season when we are already concerned about pitchers being able to sustain the 2021 season after the 2020 shortened season.

This is ridiculous, and Major League Baseball has to have a better response than postponing games and kicking the rock down the road. Of course, they don’t, so they are going to put the Mets in a precarious position now and in the future. And we know if anyone gets injured as a result of this recklessness, the Mets will play that game even if it means someone playing out of position the way d’Arnaud once did.

Mets Should Bring Back Asdrubal Cabrera

Entering this offseason, the New York Mets have discussed building depth, but to date, they haven’t quite accomplished it. Surveying the remaining free agents, Asdrubal Cabrera stands out.

As we remember, Cabrera and his family loved being part of the Mets. There was an opportunity for him to return, but Brodie Van Wagenen botched it. Fortunately, Van Wagenen is gone and can no longer screw things up for the Mets.

Since leaving the Mets, Cabrera has been a 98 OPS+ hitter. While below average, he was still the clutch hitter we remember. Case-in-point, Cabrera hit .323/.404/.565 in 38 games with the Washington Nationals helping them claim a Wild Card spot.

While we saw he wasn’t a shortstop anymore, he did provide a capable glove elsewhere, and he’s been quite versatile.

Since 2018, Cabrera has been a 5 OAA at second, 8 OAA at third, and a 0 OAA at first. It should be noted DRS paints a significantly different picture. Melding the two and taking other defensive metrics into account, Cabrera can capably fill-in across the infield.

Remember, at this point in his career, Cabrera is a utility player. As such, on a game-in and game-out basis, he just needs to establish he can give the other infielders a rest of be able to enter on a double switch.

With respect to Cabrera being a depth option, he’s been a good pinch hitter in his career. As compiled by Baseball Reference:

Looking at Cabrera’s ability to come off the bench, you see he could be a very useful player. He can certainly give you a full game at first, second, and third, and in a pinch, he can be thrown in at short.

He’s an effective pinch hitter who is also a switch hitter. That’s important for this Mets team. While we see most of the starting lineup is left-handed, much of the bench is right-handed. Cabrera offsets both.

Now, at 35, he’s not likely going to get a Major League deal from anyone. That actually inures to the Mets benefit as their roster is full with the team still needing at least a third baseman and center fielder.

On a smaller note, signing Cabrera would free up Luis Guillorme to start at second. At the moment, Guillorme is partially relegated to the bench because of his ability to play across the infield. Adding Cabrera could allow Guillorme to slot in just at second.

Overall, Cabrera was a popular and clutch Met. He has the ability to play multiple positions. Cabrera can still hit. For a Mets team looking to upgrade their depth, Cabrera certainly checks all the boxes, which is why the team should push to bring him back.

Mets Desperately Need A New Third Baseman With Few Free Agent Options

The New York Mets have a number of needs this offseason, and they’re oft discussed. However, the biggest one that’s overlooked is the giant hole at third base.

Simply put, the Mets cannot afford to put J.D. Davis there again. He’s been terrible at the position in his career, and there’s really no reason to expect any different in 2021.

In his career, Davis has a -19 DRS and -5 OAA in 770.0 MLB innings. With his posting a -8 DRS and -3 OAA at the position in 2020, it would appear his skills are regressing instead of progressing. When you break it down, he’s no more than a 1B/DH thereby leaving the Mets searching for a third baseman.

That’s a spot which likely would’ve gone to Jeff McNeil, who had his own issues at third. However, with Robinson Cano‘s suspension, it would seem McNeil is the everyday second baseman. Accordingly, the Mets will have to look outside the organization to fulfill their third base vacancy.

That is problematic because the options available aren’t great.

As previously addressed, former Met Justin Turner is probably the best option. There are underlying issues with Turner including his age, and whether he’d be willing to return to Queens.

After Turner, one popular name in some circles is DJ LeMahieu. There are a number of reasons to be skeptical of LeMahieu including his stats being Yankee Stadium fueled, his price tag, and his declining defense. There’s also the issue of his not actually being a third baseman even if he can reasonably be expected to transition.

After those two, it’s a pretty severe drop-off. Former Mets Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker are probably the next best options, but at this point in their careers, they’re best served being utility players.

Of course all of this depends upon your impression of Ha-Seong Kim. The Kiwoom Heros of the KBO have posted him. With that, he really looks to be the first KBO shortstop entering his prime to come to the MLB.

MLB Trade Rumors calls Kim a “unicorn given his blend of age, power, speed and defensive aptitude at a premium position.”

While Kim is a shortstop, he’s split time between short and third. It will be interesting to see how well he could play in the majors. That said, he’s awfully tantalizing in a very shallow free agent group.

In fact, given Turner’s age and LeMahieu’s many question marks, Kim may be the best option available. In fact, he could be the only real option available to the Mets.

With that being the case, the Mets are in a very difficult situation. They’re either looking to overpay Turner or LeMahieu to get them to come to a team they don’t necessarily want to join, or they’re rolling the dice on Kim. After that, it’s either an internal option or a trade, which is much easier said than done.

Nationals Annual Beat-Down Of Mets Continues

It seems at least once a year the Washington Nationals just embarrass the Mets. While much has changed in this COVID19 world, apparently, this tradition has survived.

Simply put, Steven Matz was terrible. Somehow, Paul Sewald was worse. Chasen Shreve wasn’t exactly sterling, but he looked like Cy Young compared to those two.

To fully put this debacle into perspective, with all due respect to Drew Smith, Luis Guillorme was the Mets best pitcher of the night.

Brandon Nimmo had a rough night in the outfield. He didn’t make an error, but he didn’t get to a lot of balls. He wasn’t the only one off during the Nationals 16-4 thrashing of a the Mets.

The Nationals hit four homers with two of them coming from former Met Asdrubal Cabrera. That included a true juiced ball homer.

You may remember Cabrera from his stint with the Mets. If not, you may remember him as the guy Brodie Van Wagenen didn’t give a courtesy call to when he instead opted to sign his former client Jed Lowrie, who had a busted knee.

Lowrie gave the Mets nine pinch hit attempts, and Cabrera helped the Nationals win the World Series. He also helped destroy the Mets tonight. So, thanks for that Brodie.

Really, the less said about this debacle, the better. It’s time to turn the page and just try to figure out how to piece together a starting rotation. Again, thanks for that Brodie.

Game Notes: J.D. Davis‘ hitting streak ended. Ali Sanchez made his MLB debut hitting into a double play in his only PA.

Simply Amazin Podcast Appearance (Preparing For The Universal DH)

I had the honor and privilege of joining Tim Ryder on the Simply Amazin Podcast. During the podcast, I referenced my Kobe, DH, and Sign Stealing articles.

The following people were mentioned: Curtis Granderson, J.D. Davis, Seth Lugo, Jake Marisnick, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Jeremy Hefner, Luis Rojas, Carlos Beltran, Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, Jeremy Accardo, Steven Matz, Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Mo Vaughn, Jared Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Andres Gimenez, Mark Vientos, Rick Porcello, Jason Vargas, Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Asdrubal Cabrera, Devin Mesoraco, and others.

Please listen.