The expectations were once David Stearns came to the New York Mets the team was going to hire Craig Counsell to be their next manager. That seemed all the more to be the case when the main competition seemed likely to come from the Houston Astros, who didn’t seem as serious about him as the Mets were.
Of course, we now know the Chicago Cubs gave Counsell exactly what the Mets could offer – a large market and a big contract. However, Chicago is closer to home for Counsell, and it doesn’t come with the issues presented by the New York media, who have sometimes been all too happy to run managers out of town.
This is a situation somewhat similar to what we saw with Steve Kerr. He was practically hired to coach the New York Knicks until he wasn’t. Golden State had all of what New York had to offer without the media or front office issues. For the Mets, the front office issues aren’t present.
With Counsell taking the surprise offer from a Cubs team who had not fired David Ross as their manager, the Mets were left looking to hire someone else. Because the Mets did their due diligence, and didn’t just go through the process to hire Counsell, they were able to quickly pivot to Carlos Mendoza.
At this point, we should remember Stearns was entasked with hiring a manager. Not with hiring Counsell, but with hiring a manager. He did that with Mendoza.
The reviews on this hire are all over the place, but that is partially the result of this shocking nature of the turn of events. You’ll see the loudmouths and naysayers killing the decision. The sycophants and optimists love the move.
In reality, no one can really know what to make of this decision.
On the bright side, it’s not Buck Showalter, who was a mediocre manager who fought against the modern game. From here, we don’t know if Mendoza will be Luis Rojas or Kevin Cash. With Rojas and Cash, we see what separated them was the front office.
Rojas was neutered from the start in the wake of the rash Carlos Beltran firing. Rojas was handed scripts from which he couldn’t deviate. In essence, he was never truly allowed to manage, and he became the fall guy for a poorly led and frankly clueless front office.
Cash has succeeded with an exceptionally run Tampa Bay Rays organization. They gave him what he needed to succeed, and to his credit he has. In essence, this means Stearns has to make good on this hire.
It is incumbent on Stearns to first give Mendoza the staff and data to be successful. More importantly, Stearns has to build the right roster. If he does that, we can the strengths and reputation Mendoza had lead to him being a successful Mets manager.
If that is the case, we can see him quickly in the postseason like Willie Randolph (a good name to throw in here for bench coach) did with the Mets. From what we saw in Milwaukee, we can and should expect that. After all, Counsell was a losing manager before he and Stearns turned things around there.
The Texas Rangers are on the verge of winning the World Series. Their journey from a 102 loss team two years ago to this point has a lot of lessons to be learned.
For starters, it is to give the right players big deals. The Rangers certainly do not regret the Corey Seager contract. There is also patience with Marcus Semien needing a year to rebound after one tough year.
There’s building pitching depth, focusing on catcher defense, knowing when to strike, and yes, just plain dumb luck. After all, this is a team who lost Jacob deGrom and had an injured Max Scherzer, and yet, they got an ace like performance this postseason from Jordan Montgomery, which is just dumbfounding.
Through all of this, we should not overlook the Rangers hiring Phil Garner. Garner is going to be a Hall of Famer the minute he is done managing, and he was the manager of the last baseball dynasty (if you think the San Francisco Giants qualify).
Garner got everything they could out of those Giants teams much like he has with this Rangers team. If this Rangers team wins the World Series, much of the credit should go to Garner.
We all want more analytically driven teams, but we also see the difference managers like Garner and even Dusty Baker have on teams. Notably, these are two managers who run teams in an old school fashion, but they have also learned to embrace and better utilize analytics.
Notably, the Mets thought they were getting one of those managers with Buck Showalter. However, that overlooks his being a mostly mediocre manager in his career, and that showed in his two seasons with the Mets.
Right now, there is a truly great manager in Craig Counsell available. Make no mistake, he has not had great teams with the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite that, he has not had a losing season (in a 162 game season) over his last five. He’s made the postseason in three out of the last four years.
This is the manager the Mets need. He gets the most out of the roster. Even better, he works well with David Stearns. In fact, Counsell is the only manager Stearns has ever had. The duo have worked together to do great things in Milwaukee.
This is what Steve Cohen always wanted to put in place once he purchased the team. Now, he just needs to convince Counsell to forgo potential offers from the Cleveland Guardians, Houston Astros, and yes, the Brewers. Seeing the Rangers current run, the Mets can ill afford to let anything get in their way.
If you tune into WFAN (why would you do that yourself), you will hear the narrative being pushed that the Steve Cohen tenure as New York Mets owner has not been successful. If you hear someone espouse that, please ignore them because they are just espousing ignorance.
That’s not to say there haven’t been missteps. Of course, there have been missteps.
Since purchasing the Mets, Cohen has had difficulty building the front office he envisioned. A very large part of that is the fact Cohen wanted the best of the best for the role, and David Stearns was not available until this year. When Stearns became available, Cohen pounced.
What is important with the rocky GM history is Cohen’s response to each of them. With Jared Porter, his alleged improprieties cost him his job. The same for Zack Scott. This led to the hiring of Billy Eppler, which was a mixed bag.
What was interesting during Scott’s tenure is he traded Pete Crow-Armstrong for Javier Baez and Trevor Williams. At the time, the Mets were in first place and the only team in the division over .500. At the time, no one knew injuries would dismantle that team, and the thumbs down drama would ensue.
What Cohen did learn from that is not to double down on a flawed team. We saw that at the trade deadline this past season as the Mets moved David Robertson, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Tommy Pham, and Dominic Leone. Having learned lessons, the Mets completely revamped their minor league system.
Looking back on that 2021 season, Luis Rojas was foisted upon Porter and Scott. With Stearns being hired, he was permitted to fire Buck Showalter even though he was a popular figure with the media and players. Again, Cohen learned a lesson.
People will want to harp on and mock the signings of Scherzer and Verlander. However, that purposefully ignores the 101 win season. You can’t mock the signings while ignoring where it was successful.
We can opt to hold the Mets payroll and failures against them in 2023. It was definitively a failure. However, it was a failure borne out of an owner attempting to win and build off of a successful season. When it didn’t work, Cohen changed course.
Keep in mind, this wasn’t the Mets 2017 sell-off to save money and collect right-handed relief prospect after right-handed relief prospect. No, Cohen continued to use his financial might to fortify the farm system.
Cohen is now entering his fourth year of ownership. Let’s take stock of where the Mets are now.
They have Stearns as the POBO. They have a future Hall of Famer in Francisco Lindor. They kept Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil over the long term. Top prospects like Francisco Alvarez and Mark Vientos have had successes to build upon for 2024. Kodai Senga was phenomenal, and Edwin Diaz is coming back healthy next year.
The Mets are in great shape to build a competitor in 2024, and they have what they need to make the Mets contenders year-in and year-out. If you don’t think this has been a success, you’re a fool.
When David Stearns was hired, there was some expectation Billy Eppler might stay on as the GM. After all, with the hiring of a POBO, Eppler had effectively been demoted. However, in the immediate wake of Stearns’ hiring, it did seem like Eppler might stay on in his current role.
There was the endorsement of Steve Cohen. We also saw the Mets acted swiftly in firing Buck Showalter. This didn’t mean Eppler was completely safe, but with each passing day, it seemed as if his chances of remaining were growing stronger.
Well, Eppler did in fact resign but not for the reasons we thought he might. As it turns out, Eppler would resign as the Mets were being investigated for their alleged improper use of the injured list.
Eppler resigning is troubling for a few reasons. First and foremost, it does seem like the Mets are being targeted for something that has long been a practice in Major League Baseball. To that end, former Atlanta Braves catcher AJ Pierzynski described what happened when the Braves approached him about it in 2019. Notably, those officials are still in place with the Braves.
To some degree, this is just what is going to happen to the Mets. Steve Cohen is a high profile target in the largest media market in the world, and he spends more than anyone. Whereas we saw the Wilpons propped up by MLB, we are going to see Cohen’s Mets more scrutinized.
That’s just a fact of life. While troublesome, that’s not the biggest issue presented by Eppler’s resignation. The biggest trouble is how it impacts the Mets offseason.
Eppler has a good relationship with Shohei Ohtani, and that could’ve been a factor with the Mets ability to recruit him away from the west coast. The Mets chances of getting Ohtani has now taken a hit. Just how big remains to be seen.
Expounding further, one of Eppler’s strengths was his connections to Japan. It was one of the reasons why the Mets were able to land Kodai Senga, who just had a phenomenal rookie year for the Mets. We know part of the Mets plan this offseason was to go back to Japan to sign ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Like with Ohtani, we don’t know how much the Mets chances of signing Yamamoto were just impacted. The same goes for any Japanese player who would be looking to come to the majors over the next few seasons.
In some ways, this was the way the Stearns/Eppler relationship was going to work. Stearns could bring his knowledge from running the Milwaukee Brewers and combine that with Eppler’s deep connections in the industry and other countries. That combination should have made the Mets the most formidable force in all of baseball.
Now, the Mets are not able to proceed with that plan, and they just lost Tommy Tanous to the Tornoto Blue Jays. Who knows if the Mets could have kept him on if he was promoted to Eppler’s role.
That’s the problem. The Mets could have been much better poised for this offseason and beyond. Instead, they are going back to the drawing board on some things while hoping their inroads to Japanese players withstand Eppler’s resignation. In the end, that, and not the investigation, is what is deeply troubling for the Mets.
If there was anyone who knew what the job entailed, it was Buck Showalter. You are supposed to face the brunt on the criticisms even if they are not of your own doing. You also get credit for things whether or not you deserved it.
In 2022, Showalter was happy to get all of the credit as he won his fourth Manager of the Year Award. He won the award despite his team having an unprecedented late season collapse.
In 2023, things did not go as well. As we saw in the season review on The Athletic, Showalter certainly deserved his fair share of the blame. It painted Showalter as out of touch with a team who didn’t work hard enough and made far too many mental lapses. While that might’ve been the case in 2022, that typically has not been Showalter’s modus operandi throughout his career.
Then again, the Mets are strange. You can thrive with the New York Yankees, but as we saw with Curtis Granderson, it still took a year to adapt to being a Met. For some reason, this team, regardless of ownership, is just a different burden than any other Major League team. With that, we do see people acting out of character, or maybe, their real character coming to light.
Showalter knew things were bad during the season, and that’s why he made a plea to the reporters to help him keep his job. We did see reporters take up the call on multiple occasions, but in the end, they were unsuccessful. Reporters having Showalter’s back is no surprise as he has always had a good relationship with the media, which honestly, was one of the reasons why he was hired in the first place.
With the hiring of David Stearns, it was definitely the end for Showalter, and he would announce his Mets tenure was over before the last game of the season. As a result, we would see Showalter get a tribute from the team and fans.
The team was careful not to trash him either directly or through back channels. They let him end his Mets tenure with their gratitude for the past two years. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for Showalter.
There was the absurd charge from the media that the Mets mishandled the firing. Then, there were reports Pete Alonso wanted to go to Steve Cohen directly to voice his displeasure with the decision. That report was gilding the lily a bit as we know the players on this Mets team loved Showalter.
However, now, we are starting to get into the problematic areas. Mike Puma of the New York Post had an “unnamed source” who said Showalter disagreed with Billy Eppler over Eppler’s insistence that Showalter kept Daniel Vogelbach in the lineup. We know the source was Showalter or someone very close to him, and it is obvious why he used Vogelbach as he was a lightning rod with the fanbase this season.
Much of what was said doesn’t pass the smell test. The argument Showalter viewed DH as a partial rest position runs in opposition to his 22 year managerial career. Showalter always had a DH for most of his career. Just go ask Danny Tartabull, Rafael Palmeiro, Pedro Alvarez, and yes, Vogelbach.
It would also have us believe Showalter was the one who wanted to play the rookies instead of the veterans. Showalter has always been a manager who plays the veterans over the young players. This year is a classic example.
Put aside his starting Vogelbach over Mark Vientos most games. When Vientos was finally in the lineup against a left-handed starter, Showalter would quickly go to his bench to bring in Vogelbach when a right-handed reliever was in the game to face Vientos. Again, this is what Showalter always was.
However, this is all besides the point. Maybe, all of those non-analytically driven lineups were made by the front office and not Showalter. Maybe Showalter really was doing what was told despite it being in direction opposition to the millions of dollars Steve Cohen is pouring into the analytics program.
Perhaps, Eppler was the one to blame here and in other circumstances. That’s not difficult to believe. However, what is difficult to believe is Showalter and his camp would air their dirty laundry after his termination.
Showalter was happy taking credit when it was a 101 win team that garnered him awards. When it was time to take the blame, he asked for the media’s help, and now, he is telling everyone he wasn’t to blame. In retrospect, maybe this isn’t too surprising as Showalter once told Bill Pennington of the New York Times that George Steinbrenner attempted to rehire him right after the Yankees hired Joe Torre.
In the end, Showalter just wants us to know he was great, and nothing was his fault. It was the Mets, who threw him a lifeline back into the game, who were to blame. That same Mets organization has been careful to give him all the credit and none of the blame. In the end, that is what makes Showalter’s behavior all the more unprofessional.
As had been detailed here when the Mets fired Luis Rojas, Buck Showalter was never the right man to manage the New York Mets. When you’re looking to overall your organization top to bottom to be more analytically driven like the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Tampa Bay Rays, you can’t hire someone who never was willing to adapt his style of managing to suit the modern game.
Assuredly, there were people who loved him. He talked a good game. He kept the media in check even despite the Mets collapse of yesteryear. A lesser respected manager would have routinely mocked for the way he handled the Joe Musgrove glistening ear situation in the deciding game three.
Perhaps, that was also the result of low expectations and an unwillingness to recognize just how good and deep the 2022 Mets roster was. Certainly, that was a driving force behind his winning Manager of the Year.
As for this year, he and the Mets were a bit snake bit. Edwin Díaz was injured during the World Baseball Classic. José Quintana had a cancer scare and bone graft surgery. Starling Marte never fully healed from offseason surgery. Justin Verlander was injured to start the season.
There was the Mets inability to adapt to the new rules right away. Max Scherzer had difficulty adapting to the old rules. The list goes on and on with that article from The Athletic doing him no favors in terms of just how ill suited he was for the job this season.
That’s not to say Showalter is too old to adjust. That’s unfair and unwarranted. He still has a sharp mind, and he knows what he knows. The issue is he was taught to manage a certain way, and that worked wonders for decades. He has just been unwilling to change.
Part of the issue is his apparent loyalty and affinity for older players. In the case of Tommy Pham, the Mets were better for it as Pham had a good year, and it led to a great trade at the deadline. However, in the case of Daniel Vogelbach, it severely damaged the team in the short term and the long term.
Maybe the Mets were always going to hire David Stearns. Certainly, it didn’t seem like an accident Craig Counsell‘s contract was up the same time as Stearns’, and Counsell wasn’t looking to sign a contract extension with the Milwaukee Brewers.
To that end, it does seem like Showalter was hired for two years with a chance to force himself upon Stearns. Certainly, if Showalter was more like Dusty Baker in his willingness to balance his strengths while accepting the analytics more, perhaps we would have seen Showalter remain on the job.
However, for better or worse, Showalter wanted to manage this team like he wanted to manage. In the case of players like Francisco Lindor, they loved him for it. Perhaps, they would’ve loved him more if he changed even a little bit, and the Mets won the World Series.
All this said, Showalter does deserve respect for taking this job and not embarrassing the Mets organization in the process. He did come at a time when things were going sideways, and he did in fact restore some public credibility, and he did keep the media pressure off in ways Bobby Valentine and Willie Randolph (two better Mets managers) ever could.
He deserved the dignity of being able to end it publicly on his terms. He earned the respect of his players, and he does deserve some gratitude from the fans, especially with all the damage that had been done to the organization since Brodie Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway did, and the shadow it cast until Showalter’s hiring.
In all honesty, hopefully, we will see Showalter get one more crack at managing. Hopefully, like Baker, he will accept the game has changed, and we can see his strenghts carry him to that elusive World Series title. With that, he may eventually get into the Hall of Fame.
While not specifically called as such, Will Sammon and Tim Britton of The Athletic wrote an autopsy of the 2023 New York Mets season. It was an excellent article with players being more open and honest than usual. It should be noted no one was attacking other players or throwing anyone under the bus.
Keeping that in mind, while reading the article, it became glaringly obvious Buck Showalter was the wrong manager for this 2023 Mets team.
The key quote out of the whole article was Tommy Pham saying, “Out of all the teams I played on, this is the least-hardest working group of position players I’ve ever played with.”
People will run a million different directions on this, but Francisco Lindor and Brandon Nimmo were at least receptive and took it to heart and improved. Notably, we have seen Lindor and Nimmo have big second halves. Putting player reaction aside, this is an indictment on Showalter.
This was the sort of theme with why the season failed. The players weren’t working hard enough. There were miscues. The play was sloppy. The team was doubting themselves. They had a manager who didn’t have the pulse of the team.
When the team was holding player meetings pushing better play and accountability, Showalter had a rah-rah meeting the following day. His players were too comfortable with some being too complacent. There were mistakes, miscues, and as we would see with Max Scherzer unnecessary suspensions.
As noted by one unnamed player in the article, this is the sort of thing that comes into question when you don’t win. However, the Mets didn’t win, which allows these issues to be investigated.
For sure, Showalter isn’t the only reason the season failed. There was blame on the World Baseball Classic not allowing the team to adapt to new rules, but that also wasn’t the reason for the losing. There were the injuries, which were a major reason for the losing early on, and based on Adam Ottavino‘s comments, we saw the Edwin Díaz injury damaged the Mets psyche more than we ever appreciated (again, this is on the manager).
Again, we can point to injuries, but Showalter’s managing was an issue all season. Currently, we are seeing Mark Vientos mashing, but we had to watch Daniel Vogelbach flounder all season long. He was hands-off and being a rah-rah guy when players are talking about needing more accountability from one another.
If you wanted the reasons to look in another direction (Craig Counsell), it was detailed in that article. Keep in mind, this article was not a hit job or even directed at Showalter. However, when you have all that evidence, it is hard to ignore.
Francisco Álavarez‘s presence at the meeting with Pham, Lindor, and Eduardo Escobar about how to turn around the season speaks volumes to how he is viewed by his teammates. We heard stuff like this when he was in the minors, but it was interesting to see him quickly become not just a part of the fabric of the team, but to be a part of these leadership moments.
Fans have long pushed for Pete Alonso to be named captain, but Lindor and Nimmo are the unquestioned leaders of this team.
Alonso really cares, and he puts pressure on himself to succeed. If anything, his going into Showalter’s office is another reason why the Mets should be pushing for an extension.
Pham was great for the Mets, It wasn’t just his production, but it was seeking to hold everyone across the board more accountable. The Mets will be better for years to come because of Pham’s time spent with the team.
It would see Showalter leaned heavily on having Mark Canha, Escobar, and Starling Marte last year on a team full of leaders. With Canha pushed down the depth chart, Escobar traded, and Marte injured all year, Showalter was missing something he needed to have the team run as smoothly as it did last year.
The injuries and struggling to adapt to the new rules was certainly a factor (albeit probably small) in the need to pivot and move to younger players.
It was interesting Pham specifically said he had respect for Lindor and Nimmo and their work ethic with the article immediately going to Jeff McNeil saying “everyone comes ready to play and does what they need to do.” Immediately after that Nimmo says, “Ultimately, a lot of this comes down to individuals and what they’re willing to do.”
This was as interesting an juxtaposition as you can have, and you do have to wonder how purposeful the presentation was.
Mostly, it was injuries that hampered the Mets with the team not having the pitching depth it did in 2022. It will now be incumbent on Billy Eppler to work with David Stearns to make sure a season like 2023 does not happen again.
Earlier in the season, there was a debate amongst New York Mets fans on Mark Vientos. One camp said he’s done nothing in his 2-3 stints in the majors, and as a result, he probably isn’t going to be in the Mets future plans, and/or he’s not going to be a quality Major League player.
The other camp pointed to the sporadic playing time from Buck Showalter serving as an impediment to his being able to have success. At a minimum, the argument was he has to get an extended run to see what he could be. Well, with the Mets being out of it, and Showalter finally acquiescing, Vientos has gotten that extended look, and he has taken off:
Since August 29, Vientos is hitting .307/.349/.581 with a triple, five homers, and nine RBI. On the season, he is averaging an exit velocity of 93.6 MPH. Among players with 100 balls batted in play, Vientos leads the Mets, and he is fifth overall in the majors. (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).
Keep in mind, his strikeout rate has stabilized to a more manageable 27% over this stretch. As Vientos has shown throughout his professional career, he can lower that number with more experience and adjustments.
With Vientos hitting the ball this hard and with this much power, he is earning a spot on the Mets 2024 roster.
For sure, there are going to be some complications. Pete Alonso blocks him at first. The Mets may go get Shohei Ohtani, who could be their DH as they await his return to the mound post Tommy John surgery. That leaves third base for him.
Admittedly, Vientos is the weakest defensive option there, but he has shown progress this season. His -1 OAA is a step in the right direction even if it is a very small sample size. Of note, this is a team with Eric Chavez as a coach, which would have you think he has the perfect mentor to get him up to speed at the position.
Part of the challenge there is Brett Baty is better regarded, but he has done nothing this season to prove he is ready. Moreover, he has been outplayed by Vientos all year.
The next challenge is Ronny Mauricio. With Mauricio, he too is proving he should be part of the Mets 2024 Opening Day roster.
Mauricio has played 16 games, and he is hitting .300/.354/.400 with three doubles, a homer, and seven RBI. He is also a perfect 6/6 in stolen base attempts. Overall, he is showing he is ready for the majors, and he needs to play everyday next season.
Where he plays is up for some debate. He is blocked at short by Francisco Lindor. That leaves second and third. While Jeff McNeil has been the team’s second baseman, he has the versatility to move to the outfield to allow Mauricio to man second.
Of course, there is a thought Mauricio was always best suited for third. That said, Mauricio has looked quite good at second base since the promotion.
He combined with McNeil on a cut off to cut down Jazz Chisholm Jr.trying to stretch a single into a double. He would also impress Keith Hernandez by his standing his ground and releasing a strong throw to turn a double play.
To some degree, it is not so much a matter of preference for where you want Mauricio to play. It is more what is best for the Mets. If Mauricio is playing second well and hitting, they should allow third base to be open for one of Baty or Vientos to play there. At the moment, Vientos has won that job, and he has a whole offseason to improve there.
In the end, Vientos and Mauricio have gotten the opportunity they have pushed for all season. Both are thriving, and they are leading the Mets to play the role of spoilers. They need to be rewarded for it by being penciled in as 2024 Opening Day starters.
Even though it was something that needed to happen months ago, all four of the Baby Mets (there needs to be a better nickname than this) are finally on the roster. When looking at each player, it is difficult to grade them out partially because Buck Showalter hasn’t been too eager to play them, and for some reason, he thinks it is more important to play his older players against the teams fighting for the postseason.
With all the caveats and mind and with some injury issues, now is a good time to take a look at where the Baby Mets stand in their first real season in the Major Leagues:
Stats: .215/.292/.435, 9 2B, 22 HR, 51 RBI
When you look at Álvarez, you see a star in the making. Defensively, he has been phenomenal and has been one of the best framers in all of baseball. He’s been better than advertised, and you see the pitchers praise of him was not all team driven propogranda.
At the plate, he was a middle of the order hitter through July, but his production has completely fallen off. There are reasons for this. First and foremost, he’s never come close to playing these many games, and as a corollary to this, the Mets are playing him more sporadically to combat the fatigue that has set in.
In the end, he looks like a cornerstone player. Don’t let him limping to the end as he’s far surpassed his games played high fool you. We should see him as an All-Star and maybe even the MVP conversation as soon as next season.
Stats: 208/.279/.314. 11 2B, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 2 SB
The short answer is the Mets failed Baty. He should have been on the Opening Day roster. He was called up quickly, and in the beginning, he was terrific hitting ..319/.385/.511 over his first 15 games.
Then, disaster set in. Over his next 71 games, he hit .195/.270/.294. He regressed in every aspect of his game, including his defense where he went from a position OAA to a -4 OAA.
After waiting way too long to demote Baty, he went to Syracuse where he began hitting again. Over 17 games, he hit .246/.329/.493. After that he was promoted back to the majors, where he has hit .143/.172/.143 since the most recent call-up.
Behind the problems are a 27.9 K% and a 49.1 GB%. He’s hit the ball hard at times, but nowhere near at the rate he did in the minors. Moreover, he’s just not barreling the ball up.
Sooner rather than later, the Mets need to figure out the disconnect between the Mets and Syracuse. That applies to both offense and defense. More than that, they need to be less tied down to the notion Baty is the third baseman of the present and maybe even the future.
Stats: .313/.353/.375, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 4 SB
When looking at Mauricio, you have to question why the hell were the Mets keeping him in the minors for so long. The answer is complicated as there were issues with defense away from short, and Mauricio never did develop any plate discipline. There was also a minor ankle injury.
That said, Mauricio has been unfazed by the promotion. In fact, he’s doing what he did in Triple-A, albeit without the same power numbers . . . yet. Keep in mind, in his first at-bat with the Mets, he had the hardest hit ball in team history during the StatCast Era.
He’s looked awkward at second, but he does have a 1 OAA (small sample size alert). On the bases, while he’s sprint speed is rather pedestrian, he’s stealing bases and taking the extra base when he has the chance.
It’s way too soon to try to guess what he is as a player in the long or short term. The only thing we can say is he needed to put up here instead of the likes of Danny Mendick back when the Mets were trying to salvage this season.
Stats: .199/.245/.325, 5 2B, 3B, 4 HR, 13 RBI
Look, the Mets have gone out of their way time and again to let Vientos (and the fans) know how little they value him. In his first call-up, despite a hot start, he was sat because of the whims of Showalter and the need to get Daniel Vogelbach‘s non-producing bat into the lineup.
Like with many young players, he struggled with the limited playing time, and he was eventually sent back down. As a result, he has underperformed, and we still don’t quite know what he can be.
What we do know is he hits the ball very hard, and he shows power to the opposite field. He does have a high strikeout rate. He’s been better than advertised at third even if he’s not really all that good there. He has impressed in limited time at first, but Pete Alonso is there, so forget that.
In the end, one of the biggest mistakes the Mets made in this lost season was not using their time to figure out what Vientos could be. Part of that could be the injured wrist. Most of it was allowing their manager get in the way of what was best for the franchise in the short and long term.
The Mets can do a number of things this offseason, which will forever change the outlook of the roster and this group of young players. That all said, it’s clear Álvarez will be the Opening Day catcher.
At the moment, barring some precipitous drop-off, Mauricio will factor into the Opening Day roster as the team’s everyday second baseman. That will likely push Jeff McNeil to left field.
After that, if the Mets were being smart, it would be a third base competition between Baty and Vientos. If the Mets are being honest, Vientos should be ahead, but it seems they made their mind up two years ago that Baty was the guy. Perhaps, that will all change when the team finally hires a President of Baseball Operations.
The New York Mets delayed it longer than needed, but they eventually called up Ronny Mauricio. So far, he has been electrifying giving a jolt to the team and the fanbase. We saw that in his first at-bat when he hit an unreal 117 MPH double off of Seattle Mariners starter Logan Gilbert:
First career hit
Double for Mauricio pic.twitter.com/zfFV3qrS6f
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) September 1, 2023
That was the hardest hit ball by a Mets player in the Statcast Era. Yes, that was hit harder than anything off the bat of Pete Alonso, That’s how you know how special the power and bat could be for Mauricio. That’s why he’s been getting Alfonso Soriano comps from Keith Law.
On the weekend, his first weekend in the majors, he was 5-for-11 with that double and two strikeouts. He would score a run and would go 2/2 in stolen base attempts. All-in-all, it was better than you possibly could’ve imagined his debut to be.
The question for Mauricio is what is next?
Not to downplay his first few games, but he was characteristically over-aggressive at the plate. When he took a pitch, it appeared more like he was taking all the way rather than his showing any real plate discipline. He did not walk and only had one three ball count.
In the all too early tally, he whiffed on half of the breaking balls he saw. He destroyed the fastball. He hit the ball on the ground a lot.
Defensively, he didn’t look comfortable at second. Again, it’s too early, but per Baseball Savant, he’s a -1 OAA already. It should be noted here his defense was an issue in Syracuse. Already, Buck Showalter said Mauricio will get looks at third and left field.
Being excited as a fan, it looks like Mauricio is here to stay. Maybe, he is. However, we also thought that with Brett Baty, and that has not turned out well this season.
Mauricio is currently riding high after a strong weekend at the plate. That was all the more impressive considering the Mariners pitching staff leads the majors in FIP. Perhaps, he is going to take another leap forward as the Mets are set to play the Washington Nationals, who own the second worst FIP in the majors.
However, at some point, things will get more difficult. The Minnesota Twins (sixth in FIP), Miami Marlins (ninth in FIP), and Philadelphia Phillies (fifth in FIP) have strong pitching staffs. They will also have some video and data on Mauricio allowing them to adjust and pitch him tougher.
Put another way, the league is going to adjust, and we will get to see how Mauricio responds. If he holds his own, the Mets have an important piece of the puzzle for next season. If not, Mauricio is back in limbo. This will make September an important month for the Mets giving fans all the more reason to watch.