The first Subway Series was 1997, and it had all of New York enthralled. There was the upstart New York Mets led by Lance Johnson, Bernard Gilkey, and Todd Hundley, against the defending World Series champion New York Yankees.
The first Subway Series did something rare in sports. It exceeded the hype. Dave Mlicki is still a Mets legend for the complete game shutout to open the series culminated with striking out Derek Jeter to end the game.
The Mets would spoil a David Cone no-hit bid in the series finale and almost pull out a win. While the concept of the Mets and Yankees being rivals was a bit forced at the outset, we did see the beginnings of a rivalry.
The rivalry reached its apex in the 2000 World Series and with all the drama surrounding Mike Piazza and Roger Clemens. There was a lot more to it like former Mets greats like Cone, Dwight Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry returning to Shea.
Mostly, it was Bobby Valentine who knew the Mets underdog status. He embraced it, and he treated those games like they were must win. Typically, they were for him as it was usually a marker for how the Mets were performing that season.
Since 2000, we have seen the series go through ebbs and flows. There have been moments like the Luis Castillo dropped fly ball or Carlos Delgado‘s power display. Of course, there was the Shawn Estes/Clemens drama.
All that said, this series has never been the same since 2000. In reality, this series has never been at a lower point than it is right now.
The Yankees are in third place and nine games back of the Tampa Bay Rays, but they do have a half-game lead in the Wild Card race. The Mets are in fourth place, are four games under .500, and they trail by three games in the Wild Card race.
The Yankees are without Aaron Judge. The Mets are without Pete Alonso. The ticket prices are through the roof, and Citi Field still has not sold out the game. It’s also a two game set making the possibility of the teams walking away with a somewhat uninteresting split.
On the bright side, we are going to see Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander. The Baby Mets of Francisco Álvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos will get their first taste of this series, and more importantly, put their stamp on this series.
We may very well see competitive games with a number of storylines emerge. However, in the past, the storylines were already written because of all the intrigue surrounding the series. That intrigue is seemingly gone for now.
Everywhere you look, the sky is falling for the New York Mets. They lost seven in a row before winning a game, and then they promptly lost again making them losers in seven of eight.
They’ve lost 11 series this season after losing 11 all of last season. They are four games under .500. Pete Alonso is on the IL. Who knows what to believe with Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander anymore. Buck Showalter has been bad and completely out of touch.
Guess what? Despite all of that, the Mets are only three games out in the Wild Card race. That’s not remotely insurmountable for this team. While we’re understandably focused on the negatives, there are plenty of positives happening with the team right now.
Mark Canha has completely turned his season around. Since May 14, he is hitting .300/.400/.467 with four doubles, two homers, and 11 RBI.
Tommy Pham has done the same. Since May 17 he is hitting .333/.392/.711 with six doubles, one triple, three homers, and 13 RBI.
Eduardo Escobar‘s resurgence has been oft discussed. Since May 12, he is hitting .378/.425/.487 with a double, homer, and five RBI.
Of course, all of this pales in comparison to what Francisco Álvarez is doing. He’s playing like an All-Star and Rookie of the Year candidate. On the season, he has a 128 wRC+. He’s sixth among all rookies in fWAR, and he is a top five catcher in all of baseball.
Francisco Lindor is a second-half player, and he seems primed to be just that for the Mets again this season. Since June 4, he is hitting .250/.357/.542 with a double, two homers, and three RBI while playing Gold Glove defense.
The Mets are in this race even with them faltering of late. They have an owner able to take on payroll to make a run. Mostly, you can argue, the Mets have everything right where they want them seeing how the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies were in similar situations in recent years only to make a charge to the World Series.
The Mets dreams of winning a World Series isn’t over. They are very much alive and in postseason contention. They just need to hang in there.
The absolute last thing the New York Mets needed was for Pete Alonso to hit the IL. He was on pace for a historic 60 homer season, and he was the Mets best player so far this season. Really, outside of him, Francisco Álvarez, and Brandon Nimmo, the Mets players have truly under-performed.
That said, the Mets did score 10 runs in the series finale against the Atlanta Braves proving they can score runs without Alonso. They just need other players to pick up the slack. Honestly, the Mets do have the talent to do that.
First and foremost, the Mets need Francisco Lindor to be more of an offensive threat. For much of last season, it was him and Alonso carrying the Mets offense. This year, he’s just at a 100 wRC+. The good news is this is the point of the year where Lindor typically takes off, and he’s right on schedule with a four game hitting streak.
In addition to Lindor, Jeff McNeil has to snap out of this funk he’s been all year. It seemed like the shift rules could help him chase history. Instead, he’s having one of his worst seasons mostly driven by an inability to hit on the road. He was last year’s batting champ. He needs to get much closer to that for the Mets to have a chance.
Brett Baty was supposed to be the solution at third. Instead, he has been mired in a deep slump for other a month. He’s really struggling hitting breaking pitches, and he’s pounding the ball into the ground. He’s coming off a two hit game, so maybe, there’s some hope for him still.
Buck Showalter has used every excuse not to play Mark Vientos, but now, it seems like he is out of excuses. Against the Atlanta Braves, we saw a rusty player who went from hot to fighting it. With Alonso out, Vientos can now finally get enough games to get into a groove and establish himself as a bona fide Major League power hitter.
These are all possibilities, and if these players can get going, the Mets will be fine offensively even without Alonso. However, that’s not going to be the biggest issue.
Mostly, the Mets need Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander to figure it out right now. This team is three games under .500 and in fourth place in the NL East. Much of that is because their co-aces have been more like deuces. They’ve been inconsistent and unreliable, and all we hear is that they are so close, blah, blah, blah.
Well, time is up with them. They need to finally deliver. We know the bullpen is unreliable and not going to get better. The Mets need length and quality innings from their starters. That starts with Scherzer and Verlander.
Finally, we go to Showalter. Look, at this point, he’s done enough to get fired by the team. He may treat this injury as an excuse for more Daniel Vogelbach and Mark Canha at first. He can’t. If he does, the Mets are sunk.
In the end, there are just a few Mets who have not under-performed. To a certain extent, that is actually good news. After all, that means if the Mets best players start performing, this team can start rolling off wins. Of course, the manager needs to let that happen, and the players need to start doing that now.
They have no other choice.
This probably should be the last straw for Buck Showalter. Every single time you think things can’t get worse, it gets worse.
It all started going bad in Atlanta last year. The Mets needed to win just one game to win the division. Instead, they were swept to complete a historic collapse.
The Mets followed that with a loss in the Wild Card Series. In the decisive Game 3, Showalter waited too long to have Joe Musgrove’s ears inspected, and he looked weak doing it.
This Mets team was supposed to be an NL East contender. At the moment, they’re 30-33 sitting in fourth place 8.5 games out of first place.
The season has hopefully reached its nadir as the Mets got swept by the Atlanta Braves. It marked the first time in Mets history where they lost three straight games they led by three runs.
This just feels like the final straw for a souring fanbase. The fanbase was souring well before this senseless quote.
There should be fingers pointed in many different directions, but usually, in these circumstances, it’s the manager who goes.
Admittedly, it’s not likely Showalter is fired. Same goes for Billy Eppler. At least not yet. However, that doesn’t mean the Mets shouldn’t do it.
At the moment, their hopes like with their young players. However, Showalter is reticent to fully deploy them, and we see him trying to hold them back. It’s really time for him to go.
Part of the issue is hiring interim managers is messy. You can’t conduct a full search. Oft times, you’re hiring a coach from a failed staff or shoe-horning a guy atop an existing staff.
If the Mets were to fire Showalter, they should consider hiring Carlos Beltrán as the interim manager.
Beltrán is already with the organization. He’s a name who could excite the fanbase and bring some juice to the team.
In the past, Beltrán was definitively not the guy. However, due to current circumstances, he could be exactly what the Mets need.
With much of the Mets hopes tied to Álvarez, Brett Baty, and Vientos, we should remember Beltrán mentored David Wright and Jose Reyes. He is also well aware of what Francisco Lindor is going through this year.
There’s a lot he knows. There’s so much more he doesn’t. It’s a free try for the Mets to see if he can. If he can’t, the season is teetering on lost anyway, and that’s with a manager who has done this for 22 years.
There’s also the karma of giving Beltrán the job after it was wrongly and needlessly taken away from him. If there’s any org that needs good karma right now, it’s the Mets.
Ultimately, this will not happen. Not now. Perhaps not ever.
Just because it won’t doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. We can dicker over Beltrán or the next guy (Eric Chávez?), but what is becoming incredibly clear is the Mets need a change. Showalter needs a change.
If the Mets do pull the trigger and fire Showalter, it will be a decision we can be proud of.
Since Vientos was recalled, he has started in just nine out of a possible 18 games. He’s only played in the field three times. He came to the Mets red hot at the plate improving defensively (he’s still a bad fielder), and now, he’s not allowed to hit or field.
In September, you understand. Like last season, it’s about exposure and just getting your best guys on the roster to try to take your team over the top. However, it’s June.
Young players aren’t helped by sitting. They need reps to improve, or at the very least, show what they need to work on to ge able to play at the Major League level. Again, Vientos isn’t playing.
This is exacerbated by the fact the Mets are playing two people over Vientos who simply cannot be in the everyday lineup right now.
Daniel Vogelbach has become a DH who can’t hit. He’s been horrid for over a month now. On the season, he is down to a 93 wRC+. To put that in perspective, on May 14, he had a 132 wRC+.
Vogelbach is only making $1.5 million. There is team control though next season, but what’s the point when the 30 year old platoon DH can’t hit anymore.
Showalter won’t stop playing him. The only way to stop it is to DFA Vogelbach.
Now, Brett Baty is a more difficult call. He is a well regarded young player who did surpass Vientos as the third baseman of the future. That said, there are extremely troubling trends.
Baty’s ground ball rate is up to 49.5%. He’s hit onto more double plays (4) than he’s hit homers (3). He can’t hit a breaking ball at the moment (39.3 WHIFF%).
Teams are now exploiting that with Baty striking out in 41.2% of his plate appearances since May 25. Overall, Baty is down to a 90 wRC+, and there aren’t any signs that number will improve anytime soon.
It’s getting increasingly difficult to argue Baty should be in the majors instead of Triple-A. In fact, Baty belongs in Syracuse now. He’s regressing, and he’s at the point where he needs too much work.
There is no reason to play Baty over Vientos now. Vientos isn’t anywhere near the defender, but he could be working with Joey Cora to improve and become more playable.
Mostly, the Mets can give him a chance. Maybe he succeeds. Maybe he fails. Whatever the case, he has upside and promise. At the very least, he couldn’t possibly be worse than Baty or Vogelbach have been.
Entering the 2023 season, the consensus was Brett Baty was the New York Mets best third base option. When the season began, Baty was unstoppable with Triple-A Syracuse, and Eduardo Escobar could not have struggled more. As a result, very early on in the season, Baty was called up to take over the third base job.
For a time, Baty seemed to claim that job as his for the present and future. On May 5, he was hitting .319/.385/.511. Defensively, he was a 2 OAA. He was making everyone look good. His play was so good Buck Showalter even began playing him against left-handed pitchers and batting him fifth in the lineup.
Well, since that point, things have not gone well for Baty. Over his ensuing 24 games, Baty is hitting .173/.253/.284. He’s near an automatic out, and he’s down to a 90 wRC+.
There are a number of reasons for that. The ground ball rate is again an issue for Baty with a 1.84 GB/FB. He’s not barreling up the baseball, and while the strike out rate isn’t bad, he swings and misses a lot. That includes a 39% whiff rate against breaking balls.
Baty’s fielding has also slipped a bit with his OAA dropping from two to one. He’s been struggling on balls to his left. That’s not to say he’s been bad, but rather, his glove is not at the level to justify keeping an anemic bat in the lineup. Again, he has slipped from where he was a month ago.
While Baty is struggling, Escobar has come alive. Since May 1, Escobar is hitting .394/.444/.606. That’s a whopping 1.051 OPS. A large part of that is he has predominantly played against left-handed pitching.
Defensively, Escobar has been adept playing to a 0 OAA at second and third. Certainly, he has earned more playing time and more chances to prove himself.
In addition to Escobar, the Mets have a Mark Vientos problem. Since he has been called up, he has only started in nine out of a possible 15 games. By and large, Showalter is treating him as a platoon option for Daniel Vogelbach.
With Baty at third, and Showalter’s predilection towards playing veterans like Vogelbach, there’s not enough at-bats to give Vientos. That’s not to say Vientos shouldn’t be in the everyday lineup. Rather, the reality is the manager won’t do it.
Now., if Baty is sent to Triple-A, there is suddenly more at-bats available for Vientos. We can see him a little more comfortable, and we can get a better look at what Vientos can do with some regular playing time. Keep in mind, while Vientos struggles defensively, the Mets can and should call up Luis Guillorme as a defensive replacement.
Freeing up this playing time for Vientos is a consequence of who is managing. That in and of iteslf is not the reason to demote Baty. The reason behind that is Baty has been struggling for a while now, and we are starting to see some troubling trends like a dip in his defense and an increase in his ground ball rate.
It appears Baty needs to go back to Triple-A to work things out. When he does, the Mets should look to call him right back up because when he is going well, he is the Mets best option at third.
The New York Mets did what they did all season. They followed inexplicably dropping consecutive series to the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies by sweeping the Philadelphia Phillies at home. At this point, the unexpected has become the expected.
Putting the consistent inconsistency aside, we are starting to see some very positive signs emerge. More than anything, we should be focusing on that rather than the day-to-day results. After all, if certain things are working well for the Mets, the wins are going to come.
First and foremost, the rotation is starting to look like what we hoped it would be. Over his last four starts, Max Scherzer is 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA while striking out 28 and walking just four over 25 innings.
Kodai Senga has become unhittable at home. In his five Citi Field starts, he is 3-1 with a 1.20 ERA, 0.933 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, and an incredible 11.4 K/9. As we saw with Noah Syndergaard‘s rookie year, the home/road splits will eventually translate to Senga being able to be a great pitcher on the road. It just takes a little time.
With the exception of his Coors Field start and the start against the Tampa Bay Rays, Justin Verlander has largely been good. We also see José Quintana is on a path to get back on the mound. Overall, that’s four strong starters that becomes five with Carlos Carrasco pitching 6+ innings while allowing just one earned in each of his last two starts.
Offensively, Pete Alonso is chasing 60 and looks primed to be the first non-steroid National League player to hit that mark. Francisco Álvarez has been great at the plate and may be better defensively. Brandon Nimmo is having an All-Star caliber season (again).
Francisco Lindor is playing Gold Glove defense and has been hitting for power. We also have to remember with his struggles he’s a second half hitter. Jeff McNeil has struggled, but he too is at a point in the season where he usually takes off.
Where things are really promising is the older core from last season finding their games again. Since May 9, Starling Marte is hitting .288/.342/.356 and has stolen 16 bases this season. Since May 14, Mark Canha is hitting 333/.442/.556. Eduardo Escobar has thrived in a part-time role hitting .400/.442/.700 since April 20.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been any issues. Brett Baty is struggling at the plate hitting .200/.286/.400 since May 14, but he continues to play good defense with a 1 OAA. Since May 1, Daniel Vogelbach is hitting .170/.310/.254. With both to those players struggling, it is strange to see how infrequently Mark Vientos plays.
The bullpen doesn’t go that deep, but David Robertson has been a great anchor. You can rely on Drew Smith to be a bridge. However, Brooks Raley and Adam Ottavino are too important to be as shaky as they are.
That brings us to the Mets biggest issue – Buck Showalter. He’s managing like it’s 1988, and he does bizarre things like ignoring the numbers, batting Álvarez ninth, and shoe-horning Vogelbach into the lineup. He’s just never playing Vientos at this point treating him as a strict platoon player.
However, despite Buck (yes, despite him), the Mets are 30-27 just 3.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are 9-13 over their last 22 games. It’s allowed the Mets to get back into the NL East race.
The Mets are also currently the second Wild Card. They’re trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks/Los Angeles Dodgers by four games, but they have a one game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins, who are currently tied for the last Wild Card spot.
Of course, the standings right now don’t mean anything. We can just pinpoint the Mets last two seasons to illustrate that point. Rather, it just shows the Mets are in a great position to make a run. With the starting pitching emerging, their top hitters slugging, and the rest of the roster ready to break out, the Mets are poised to have a great summer, and hopefully, an even better October.
The danger with calling up Mark Vientos was that Buck Showalter was not going to play him. That is just Showalter’s instincts when it comes to young players. While veterans need not have to produce to keep a roster spot, young players have to go above and beyond to earn playing time.
When Brett Baty was first called up, he was immediately put into a platoon at third base with Eduardo Escobar. What was bizarre about that was Baty was called up to the majors specifically because of Escobar’s struggles. Baty has since played his way out of the platoon.
For two years running, the Mets said when Francisco Álvarez was called up to the majors, he was going to be the primary catcher. However, when Álvarez was called up after the Omar Narváez injury, Showalter first made Álvarez the back-up to Tomás Nido.
Eventually, Nido’s struggles and eye issues forced him to the IL, and now Álvarez is the primary catcher. However, even with Álvarez being the Mets best hitter for over a month now, he still bats ninth.
That brings us back to Vientos.
Vientos was called up because Daniel Vogelbach was not hitting for power, and he was slumping. Tommy Pham was not getting it done either from the DH spot. Mostly, the Mets needed more power in their lineup. Given the power display Vientos was exhibiting in Triple-A coupled with him dramatically cutting down on the strikeouts, the Mets were almost forced to call him up.
When he was first called up, it looked genius. Vientos would homer off of Ryan Thompson to tie the game and spark what would be the Mets best win of the season. Notably, Vientos was just one of four players over the past three seasons to homer off of Thompson’s slider:
Good thing they didn’t call up Mark Vientos sooner.
— Mike Mayer (@mikemayer22) May 18, 2023
Even with the homer, the Mets would not get him back into the lineup. He sat against the right-handed Taj Bradley. However, he would get into the lineup again against the right-handed Cal Quantrill. In that game, Vientos came up with the big base hit off Emmanuel Clase in the 10th to pull the Mets within a run.
For Vientos, that was two games played with two big hits producing an RBI. Despite that, he would not appear in the lineup until two games later. Being fair here, one of the games he missed the first half of a doubleheader. Still, after two big hits, Showalter’s inclination was to sit Vientos for two straight games.
Vientos struggled against Shane Bieber, who was excellent over eight innings. Then again, the Mets lineup only produced two runs on seven hits for the day.
Vientos would start at DH in the first game of the series against the Chicago Cubs with Drew Smyly taking the mound. After going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts, Showalter pinch hit Vogelbach for Vientos when the right-handed Jeremiah Estrada relieved Smyly.
When Showalter pinch hit for Vientos, there were runners on first and second with one out. Vogelbach flied out with Francisco Lindor and Alonso moving up. You’ll note when Starling Marte, the Mets worst hitter this season, came to the plate, Showalter did not use Jeff McNeil to pinch hit for him. Instead, he left Marte in to ground out killing the Mets chances of getting back into that game.
With Marcus Stroman taking the hill, Vientos was again on the bench in favor of Vogelbach. Vogelbach was 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Again, Vogelbach had the type of performance which led to Vientos getting called up.
Taking all into account, here is where we are. Vientos was impactful the first two games but has not been since. He is struggling with sporadic playing time going 2-for-13 at the plate with a homer and two RBI (65 wRC+).
Vientos is not producing enough at the moment. He has also been taken out the rhythm he was in Triple-A with the sporadic playing time he has had. Put the blame where you want it, but the end result is Vientos not playing frequently and not producing the way he did even when he was first called-up.
One thing that has been abundantly clear is the New York Mets lineup isn’t working. Even going back to last season, Buck Showalter never truly maximized his lineup. That should change now, especially since Showalter can’t justify many of his decisions.
That’s not to say Showalter has been completely inflexible. To be fair, he did drop down Starling Marte in the lineup due to his early season struggles. On that point, Marte never should have been batting second. As we have seen, from a Sabermetric/analytical standpoint, your best hitter should bat second.
Instead, Showalter treated it like a second lead-off hitter. That never really worked last season, and it is time to see Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, or Brandon Nimmo bat second. If players like Aaron Judge and Mike Trout bat second, the Mets can put their top hitter there.
Since the start of last season, those are the Mets top three hitters. Alonso has a 141 wRC+. McNeil is behind him with a 136, and Nimmo has a 132. The Mets could easily justify batting anyone one of them second in their lineup.
Before getting to that point, the Mets do have to wrestle with who leads off. Part of the issue there is while Nimmo seems like the obvious candidate, the waters do get muddied a bit when looking at the numbers.
In his career, McNeil has been at his best batting lead-off (131 wRC+), his four games in the clean-up spot (144 wRC+), or towards the bottom of the lineup. He has been his weakest batting second (115 wRC+) and fifth (104 wRC+). While we can and should look towards analytics, we should also take into account where players thrive and meld the two.
On that front, Francisco Lindor has been at his best when batting lead-off (123 wRC+) or fifth in the lineup (183 wRC+) in his career. The caveat there is he’s hit fifth only once, so that should really be disregarded. Really, Lindor has spent his career in the top third of the lineup, and it is clear he’s a much better hitter when leading off.
For his part, Nimmo has a 135 wRC+ as a leadoff hitter. He’s got better numbers in other spots in the lineup, but there’s nothing close to an appreciable sample size to derive anything of it. This is where the Mets conundrum is. They have three players who thrive batting leadoff, but only one of them can fill that spot.
Going back to Alonso for a moment, he has a 135 wRC+ batting clean-up. However, he has a 149 wRC+ batting second and a 151 wRC+ batting fifth. He’s very good batting third hitting third.
So going through the numbers, here is what we know. Nimmo has the best wRC+ as a lead-off hitter, but Lindor has the biggest drop-off from the lead-off to other spots in the lineup. Alonso can hit basically anywhere. Going deeper, over the past month, Álvarez has been the Mets best hitter with a 162 wRC+. Put another way, he’s arrived.
Basically, there’s a lot going on with the Mets lineup, but one thing we know is Álvarez batting last is something that needs to change immediately. We also know base stealing is easier with the closer base paths, and Lindor is their best base stealer out of their top hitters. Taking everything into account, perhaps the Mets can roll with something like this:
- Lindor, SS
- Alonso, 1B
- McNeil, 2B
- Álvarez, C
- Nimmo, CF
- Vientos, 3B
- Baty, LF
- Marte, RF
- Vogelbach/Escobar/Canha DH
Another interesting look is:
- McNeil, 2B
- Nimmo, CF
- Alonso, 1B
- Lindor, SS
- Álvarez, C
- Baty, LF
- Vientos, 3B
- Vogelbach/Escobar/Canha, DH
- Marte, RF
If that is too radical, the other option the Mets have in play is:
- Nimmo, CF
- Lindor, SS
- McNeil, LF
- Alonso, 1B
- Baty, 3B
- Vientos, DH
- Escobar, 2B
- Marte, RF
The second is the more likely scenario given the manager. However, it is still a major change. The biggest is acknowledging Álvarez is one of the Mets top hitters and needs to be recognized as such.
The other interesting part of the lineup is Marte ninth. This is a page out of Bobby Valentine‘s playbook when he would bat Roger Cedeño ninth in interleague games to give the Mets a leadoff hitter at the bottom of the lineup.
In the end, this is a balancing of what the players are comfortable doing with optimizing the lineup analytically. The Mets seem to be doing better with their top four batters rearranged, and if that is the case, the Mets can roll with that. However, the lower five needs radical reconstruction starting with batting Álvarez fifth.
That last part should be the easy part. Time will tell if Showalter sees it that way.
The New York Mets are making the right move calling up Gary Sánchez. We know Sánchez has the ability to have a game changing type of bat, and he has the type of power the Mets are trying to add to the roster.
Sánchez had an opt out date fast approaching. It could be a mix of small sample sizes, good luck, and some adjustments, but Sánchez has been raking in Triple-A Syracuse. The Mets should get a look at Sánchez at the Major League level before letting another team benefit from the risk and work the Mets took on signing Sánchez to a minor league deal.
While a smart decision, it comes with serious risk given who is in charge of the Mets.
Buck Showalter has already given Mets fans reason to be leery on his handling with young players. Mark Vientos hit a big home run, and he sat the next day in favor of Tommy Pham and Daniel Vogelbach, two players whose failures necessitated Vientos’ promotion to the majors.
Based on Showalter’s comments, it seems he may be leaning towards a third base platoon between Vientos and Brett Baty. Baty just escaped one with Eduardo Escobar, but because Showalter is reticent to use his young players over his veterans, it appears two players who should be together in the starting lineup are now going to battle for one spot.
That brings us back to Francisco Álvarez.
When Omar Narváez went down with injury, Álvarez was called up to the majors. Prior to this moment, the Mets always said once Álvarez is called up, he is going to be the primary catcher. Instead, Showalter declared Tomás Nido would start over Álvarez.
It literally took Nido developing an eye issue causing his ineffectiveness for Álvarez to get the starting job he should have had. That was the organizational plan, but on his own volition, Showalter abandoned it.
Looking at Álvarez now, he is an excellent defensive catcher. He just hit a huge homer. Over the past 21 games, he has hit four homers, an .807 OPS, and a 128 wRC+. That would make him one of the Mets best hitters over this stretch, so naturally, he can’t bat anything other than ninth in this lineup.
Now, Álvarez sitting in the series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays was overblown. He’s a catcher. Day games after night games always means your catcher sits. Showalter didn’t need the nicked up excuse. Álvarez is a catcher. Catchers are always nicked up.
From what we’ve seen, the Mets can’t take Álvarez out of the everyday lineup. If the Mets want to play Sánchez, fine, He can DH. He can catch the second end of the doubleheader or the day game after the night game. That’s the job of the backup catcher which Sánchez should undoubtedly be.
Make no mistake, Álvarez is better than Sánchez. Whereas Sánchez struggles defensively, Álvarez is very good behind the plate. Whereas Sánchez never fulfilled his offensive potential, Álvarez is giving us very real glimpses into what he can be.
In the end, the Mets were smart to call up Sánchez. If utilized properly, he can be a real weapon for the Mets. However, if he usurps Álvarez this will be a disaster, and it will the latest in Showalter trying to put a stop to the Mets youth movement. The Mets simply cannot let that happen.