Back when the New York Mets acquired Daniel Vogelbach, early analysis on this site was it hurt the Mets in the short-term. It was also noted as a bizarre trade as the Mets in-house options were more than capable of handling the duties the Mets were seeking Vogelbach to handle.
As we have become further removed from the trade, we see it is a trade which has continued to hamper the Mets.
This is not to say Vogelbach has been bad. In fact, Vogelbach has been better with the Mets than he has at any spot in his career posting a 130 OPS+ with the Mets.
That may be news to some Mets fans as they have become frustrated with the designated hitter. They will point to his numbers with RISP (.200/.455/.200) and his lack of power. While productive as a DH, Vogelbach is not the classic power hitter you expect from the position, or frankly, someone with his physique.
That is very noticeable when Mark Vientos is raking in Triple-A. So far this season, Vientos is hitting .331/.416/.677 with 11 2B, 12 HR, and 35 RBI. By every measure, Vientos should be in the majors.
However, he isn’t, and it is inextricably linked to Vogelbach. Yes, fans are frustrated with him, but he has been productive at the plate. As a result, the team is not going to have Vientos join the club to sit.
This is a consideration Billy Eppler should have had last year and this past offseason. Keep in mind, Vientos was raking with Syracuse last season, but the Mets outright refused to give him a look at DH. Instead, they opted for the Vogelbach/Darin Ruf tandem at the trade deadline.
Vientos did not succeed in a short-side platoon in September. This is a reason not to call him up now no matter how much he hits. Arguably, he’s the Mets best DH option now (and probably was last season), but he’s blocked due to the veteran forward approach of Eppler and Buck Showalter.
The trade is made worse by Colin Holderman‘s success with the Pittsburgh Pirates. So far this season, Holderman is 0-1 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.313 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, and a 10.7 K/9. He has established himself as a very good late inning relief option.
The Mets could use Holderman now, especially after the Edwin Díaz injury. At the moment, David Robertson, Drew Smith, and Adam Ottavino have been the only real reliable relievers so far this season. Past them, the Mets have been cycling through injured relievers and hoping for one or two good outings from the Jimmy Yacabonis and Dennis Santana of the world before they hit the IL or are designated for assignment.
Of course, the there is also the matter of how the Holderman for Vogelbach trade led to the Mychal Givens trade last season. Therein lies the real issues with the Vogelbach trade.
The value of Holderman for Vogelbach was fine. In fact, it might’ve been an underpay for the Mets. However, that trade has forced the Mets into many bad and short-sighted decisions. As a result, we see Vientos stuck in Triple-A, and the Mets still seeking power and production from players who were never going to provide it – players like Vogelbach.
After a disappointing loss in the Wild Card Series, the New York Mets remade their rotation and re-shaped their bench. Are they better? Well, we’re about to find out:
1. The Mets are going to miss Jacob deGrom, Seth Lugo, and Dominic Smith. With Lugo and Smith, they are getting the opportunities they always wanted, and for deGrom, well, let’s hope he can be the AL Cy Young. Best of luck to all of them.
2. The Mets having Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander lead their rotation is a fever dream. Last time the Mets had this much greatness atop their rotation was 2015 when deGrom and Matt Harvey pitched the Mets to a pennant.
3. With the shift ban and other rule changes, Jeff McNeil may hit .400. If he does, you know he will be the NL MVP, so starting right now, we are accepting all passengers on the McNeil MVP Hype Train.
4. Kodai Senga looks like the real deal, and his ghost sinker will likely be a bigger sensation than Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s gyroball or Hideo Nomo‘s wind-up and splitter. Look for him to be an All-Star and have a big year.
5. The best news to come out of spring training was José Quintana‘s tumor being benign. Whenever he comes back, he comes back.
6. It was not the way you wanted to see it happen, but David Peterson got the rotation spot he should have received. He should have a good year, and with the age in the Mets rotation, he may just make more starts than any other Mets pitcher.
7. Obviously, the Mets are going to miss Edwin Díaz immensely. It appears he is gone for the season, but you never know, especially if the Mets go deep into October.
8. One thing the Díaz injury highlighted was the importance of signing David Robertson. With him, the Mets have a closer in their bullpen who has thrived in New York. This was just a good signing.
9. The other thing the Díaz injury highlights is the Mets could have done more to build the bullpen. Obviously, you understood the team not spending or pursuing free agents after the Carlos Correa deal fell through, but when it was clear that money wasn’t going to be spent, Michael Fulmer and Andrew Chafin were still free agents. Not pivoting to them was a mistake Billy Eppler cannot justify.
10. There is absolutely no justification for Brett Baty not being on the Opening Day roster. Put aside the fact he won the job in spring training (if there was a competition). Everyone says he’s better than Eduardo Escobar right now, and more to the point, the Mets gave him the job in August.
11. The Mets were right to designate Darin Ruf for assignment. His wrist was holding him back, and the team needed to find someone else for the job. Now, that job should have gone to Escobar or Mark Canha, but that is a fight for another day.
12. With the shift rules and pitch clock, there will be more emphasis on contact and defense. While we know these rules are perfect for McNeil, it is another reason why Luis Guillorme should be playing everyday.
13. Again, the Mets ideal lineup is with McNeil in left, Guillorme at second, and Baty at third. We may need to see that sooner rather than later because Canha finished the year miserably and was non-competitive in the postseason. It may just be he will be far more effective as a part-time or semi-regular player.
14. The Mets bench is flat out bad. Tommy Pham really is just another version of Ruf, and Tim Locastro may just be a worse version of Travis Jankowski. Hopefully, when the Mets finally call up Baty, it will move Escobar and/or Canha to the bench. At that point, this will be a deep and dangerous roster.
15. Francisco Lindor is a great player in his prime. We are very lucky he is a member of the New York Mets, and we can look forward to the day he wears a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque and sees his 12 retired.
16. Aaron Judge broke the rookie home run record in 2017. Two years later, Pete Alonso broke the record. Last year, Judge hit 62. Lets just say this year will be a stepping stone for Alonso’s epic 2024 season.
17. Omar Narváez and Tomás Nido are going to be such a good tandem behind that plate that it is unfortunately going to keep Francisco Álvarez in Triple-A most of the year. Of course, if there is an injury, and Álvarez goes on a tear, the Mets might just be forced to keep him in the majors.
18. The fans clamoring for Álvarez, Baty, Ronny Mauricio, and Mark Vientos is a sign of just how good each of those prospects are and just how bright the Mets future is. As good as 2023 will be, 2024 will be better when they take on bigger roles.
19. Brandon Nimmo is a Met for life poised to break many team records. It’s sad that he couldn’t be joined by Michael Conforto (who the Mets needed), but we should celebrate Nimmo’s path to being one of the true Mets greats.
20. During the regular season, the Mets may be the third best team in the division. The early schedule is tough. The bench is bad. The older roster will have some nicks. However, in the end, when it matters most, this is a postseason team who will be set up well to win the World Series. Repeat, the Mets will win the 2024 World Series.
For the New York Mets 60th season, I made 60 bold predictions heading into the season. The concept is to really go for it instead of being meek and saying Francisco Lindor will play the most games at short, or Pete Alonso will lead the team in homers. It was to be daring. Some hit, and some did not. In any event, here are 61 for this year as this is the 61st season:
1. The New York Mets will win the 2023 World Series.
2. The Mets will be the third best team in the division during the regular season.
3. David Peterson will have more starts this season than any other Mets starter.
4. Kodai Senga will be an All-Star.
6. By the middle of June, Brett Baty will be called up, and he will overtake the Mets third base job for the next decade.
7. The Mets will have more blown saves by the All-Star Break than Edwin Díaz had all of last season.
8. The Mets are going to find a way to get Alexis Díaz this season. When they get him, Steve Cohen will speak about just how important family is and how that was a motivating factor in getting Díaz.
9. Part of the Díaz deal will be Joey Votto going to the Mets. The lifelong Red will be excited because he is getting a chance to win, and the Reds will be excited because it clears a massive chunk of payroll. Votto will take over as the Mets DH.
10. Ronny Mauricio is going to be moved this year as the big prospect to get a big piece or two at the trade deadline.
12. We will see Álvarez get called up multiple times, but he is not going to stick on the roster until September.
13. The Mets will not need a closer at the trade deadline, but they will need an outfielder. They will still get at least one reliever at the deadline.
16. The Mets will announce a date where they are going to retire Carlos Beltrán‘s number 15.
17. The pitch clock is going to be a hit with the fans, but we are going to see multiple issues early in the season where games are swung on its implementation leading to player and that fanbase’s frustration.
19. The Mets are going to have a tough first half with many wondering if the team was too old or if this is a reincarnation of the 1992 Worst Team Money Could Buy. The Mets will shut everyone up with a great second half.
20. The rule changes will rejuvenate Keith Hernandez, who will come to enjoy the modern game more than any particular fan.
21. Brandon Nimmo will be a first time All-Star. He will be joined there by Lindor, McNeil, Senga, and Verlander.
22. Pete Alonso returns to the Home Run Derby, and he wins it again.
24. Eduardo Escobar loses his starting third base job, but he will still serve as an important semi-regular on the roster.
25. Lindor will be the only Mets player to win a Gold Glove this season. Guillorme and McNeil will be finalists.
26. Starling Marte will play fewer than 100 games, but he will be healthy for the postseason and will be one of the best Mets in the postseason.
27. Dylan Bundy will be added to the Major League roster at some point during the season, and he will stick in the bullpen at some point.
28. McNeil and Lindor will each finish in the top five in MVP voting with McNeil winning the award.
29. J.D. Davis will get out to a good start leading for Mets fans to further complain about the Darin Ruf trade, but Davis will cool off considerably thereafter with no one saying much of anything past May.
30. This will be Eric Chávez‘s last season as a coach with the Mets as he will be the hot candidate for managerial jobs in the offseason.
31. Meet Joey Meneses, who will be the newest Mets killer.
32. Scherzer is going to have a better season than Verlander.
33. Verlander will have zero issues adjusting to New York.
34. Lindor is going to play in every single Mets game this season.
35. The Mets will aggressively pursue David Bednar and Bryan Reynolds, but the stingy Pittsburgh Pirates owner will not make a deal with Steve Cohen on principle based on this spending the last offseason.
36. When he returns from the IL, Mets fans are going to fall in love with Bryce Montes de Oca, and we will see him get at least a down ballot Rookie of the Year vote.
37. Shohei Ohtani will not be traded this year no matter how hard the Mets try to get him. Part of the reason will be the Los Angeles Angels contending for the last Wild Card spot.
38. Noah Syndergaard will actually start against the Mets when the Los Angeles Dodgers visit Citi Field in April. He will get a loud ovation as he takes the mound.
40. Alonso will appear in more games at DH than any other right-handed batter as Buck Showalter tries to keep him fresher than he did last season.
41. While there will be calls for a closer-by-committee approach, Showalter is going to go with David Robertson as the closer to begin the season, and he will carry the role at least through the All-Star Break.
42. Buck Showalter will not be the NL Manager of the Year, and he will not finish in the top five in voting.
44. Jose Butto will be up-and-down a few times this season being designated at that prospect who comes up one week for a spot start and another week to hang out in the bullpen. He is going to struggle, and there will be more people calling him a non-prospect.
45. While it will be an exhausting story line, Verlander will win a World Series start, and he will be dominant.
46. Despite his World Baseball Classic success, no team will sign Matt Harvey this season with his pending suspension being part of the reason.
48. Pride Night is scheduled for June 16. The Mets will force Raley to wear whatever gear is mandated that day by Major League Baseball.
49. Lindor is and will continue to be the best shortstop in baseball. Yes, that means he will have a better season than Trea Turner.
50. We will see Mark Vientos at some point this season but only for a limited time as the Mets are going to struggle to find spots for him even with Vientos having a monster year with Syracuse.
51. This will be the last season the 1962 Mets have the record for most losses in a season. The bottom feeders of baseball are just that bad this season.
52. Nimmo wins his first Silver Slugger this season.
53. The Mets will have a day honoring the New York Rangers after the Rangers win the Stanley Cup with Mets fan Adam Fox throwing out the first pitch.
55. Kevin Parada will play in Double-A this season, and we will start to hear some wonder if it is him or Álvarez as the Mets catcher of the future.
56. Nimmo is going to steal 20+ bases this season.
57. Escobar will continue his streak of 20+ home run seasons.
58. One development from the pitch clock is Citi Field will begin to have all of their concession stands handle pre-order and pick up as fans are not going to have as many delays and will not want to miss game action.
59. There will be some celebration at Citi Field this season for the 40th anniversary of the 1973 pennant winning team. It will likely be tied into Old Timers’ Day.
60. The Mets will have multiple events throughout the year giving rewards to Mets fans for wearing their caps out in public as a continued attempt to get them more attention than the Yankees.
61. This will be the first time New York holds a Stanley Cup and World Series title since 1928.
The New York Mets made a series of puzzling decisions when forming their 2023 Opening Day roster. Brett Baty was sent down to Triple-A Syracuse. Tommy Pham was given a spot on the team as a fourth outfielder. All of this despite Darin Ruf being designated for assignment.
Putting aside any questions or disbelief, what really needs to be analyzed at this point is how the Mets should best utilize their roster. Looking at the roster as it stands right now, the only conclusion is Luis Guillorme needs to be an everyday player whether that be at second or third base.
If you look at the rule changes being implemented for the 2023 season, they almost beg for the Mets to play Guillorme regularly. That is from a defensive and na offensive standpoint.
The defensive point was obvious. Guillorme is an outstanding defender. He is a more natural second baseman, but he has made the adjustment to be excellent at third. That was part of the reason he was able to force himself into a platoon at the position last season.
Keep in mind, with no shift, infield defense will be at a premium. Remember, Escobar was a -6 OAA last year when you could fully shift. Without the shift, the Mets will need more from here, and it is highly doubtful he can give it to them.
There is also the matter of left field. Last season, Canha had a -1 OAA in left. We also saw his sprint speed dip every so slightly from 27.8 ft/sec to 27.5 ft/sec. That’s not earth shattering, but he is now 34 and will be more likely to lose another step than to gain it back.
There’s also the matter of his bat. His barrels and launch angles cratered last season. We also saw him limp to the finish line last season hitting .249/.349/.383 over his final 37 games of the season. He carried that into the Wild Card Series going 0-for10 at the plate.
This all isn’t to say Canha and Escobar don’t have value. In a limited or semi-regular role, they can stay fresher and do what they do well in shorter spurts. In the event of injury, they can step up into a starting role over a stretch.
In the meantime, we can see Guillorme playing excellent defense at second or third while Jeff McNeil moving between second and left. We can also see Guillorme’s contact oriented approach thrive all the more with the institution of the pitch clock and the ban on the shift.
Overall, Guillorme promises to be much better defensively than what Canha or Escobar can provide. He may also have the chance to outperform them offensively. All told, he is just a better and more valuable player than either of them necessitating he be in the everday lineup.
The New York Mets surprised everyone when they announced Darin Ruf was going to be designated for assignment. On the merits, the Mets should have made this decision, but organizations do not usually accept poor trades this early. Instead, they try to extract some value thereby making the deal all the more worse.
Now, while the Mets deserve an immense amount of credit for admitting their mistakes and eating most if not all of Ruf’s $3 million salary. However, the Ruf decision reinforced another mistake the Mets made.
Ruf was supposed to be the Mets platoon DH with Daniel Vogelbach. Now, he will not. Presumably, that job is now going to be handed to Tommy Pham, who had a 115 wRC_+ against left-handed pitching last season and has a 132 mark for his career.
In a one-for-one swap, this makes sense. However, we also need to point out here Eduardo Escobar had a 133 wRC+ against left-handed pitching last year with a 109 mark for his career. Based on more recent seasons, Escobar would be the more preferred platoon DH option.
That goes further when you consider he has more versatility. While his -6 OAA last season indicates he should not play third on an everyday basis, he does have the ability to play there for a game or two. He has the ability to play a good second base. In fact, he had a 3 OAA at the position in 2021.
Moreover, Escobar had some exposure to left field this spring. Overall, Escobar is a very versatile player who could be a semi-regular player. That would be of far more use to the Mets than Pham who has had a negative OAA as an outfielder in each of the past three seasons.
Of course, Escobar can’t be that versatile bench player and platoon DH option because the Mets optioned Brett Baty to Triple-A Syracuse to begin the season. That was despite his strong spring when he showed himself a superior defender than Escobar with a far higher offensive ceiling.
When the Mets were keeping Ruf, you almost understood the decision. The Mets were going to give Ruf one last opportunity to see what he could do when healthy. It’s not that you agreed with it, but you could understand the decision making.
Now, you really have to wonder what the Mets are thinking. The team wanted to give Baty the third base job last year, and it was a torn UCL in Baty’s thumb which stopped the transition. Now, when they can do it when Baty is clearly far ahead of Escobar, they are going to hold Baty back.
What the Mets are doing here is really puzzling, and it may cost them games in what should be a very tight National League East this season. Ruf is gone, but the ensuing decisions which should have been made in light of that decision didn’t happen. Hopefully, Baty will be up soon and helping the Mets make it back to the postseason.
Before Darin Ruf played a game for the New York Mets, the trade was a bad deal. The J.D. Davis part made total sense. He was bad and needed to go. However, parting with Carson Seymour and Nick Zwack made the trade an insane overpay.
People tend to forget stuff like that when a player is great, and the team wins. However, Ruf had a 13 OPS+ with the Mets, is dealing with an arthritic wrist, and the Mets had a historic collapse before succumbing to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card Round.
The Eduardo Escobar signing didn’t make sense when it happened. After all, he was never really a third baseman. There were a number of intangibles he brings where you understood the signing as the season progressed.
However, Escobar would eventually lose his third base job. He eventually fell into a platoon with Luis Guillorme. If not for an injury, he would have forever lost it to Brett Baty. To be fair, Escobar did have a great September and was a leader for the Mets.
However, that was all 2022. The Mets now need to figure out how best to build their team for 2023. Instead of doing that, they took all the lazy cop outs and stuck with the veterans.
Watching this spring, it was very clear Brett Baty was ready to take over the everyday third base job for the Mets. It was also clear Mark Vientos was better than Ruf as the right-handed platoon option, and it also seemed like he could take over for Daniel Vogelbach for the entirety of the job.
For Vientos, you understand the demotion. Vogelbach should put the miserable spring behind him and have a good year. It should also be noted being a short side platoon DH option is just about the worst way to develop a player.
Looking at Baty, choosing Ruf and Escobar over him made absolutely no sense whatsoever.
As has oft been noted, Escobar is a bad third baseman. He was a -6 OAA at the position last year. With the elimination of the shift, he may soon become downright unplayable at the position.
Still, Escobar had use for the team. While he hasn’t been a good left-handed hitter, he did thrive against left-handed pitching last year. He could have taken over Ruf’s role as the platoon DH. That is a far more preferable option.
First, Escobar is just a better hitter. More importantly, Escobar has far more versatility. He can play all the infield positions except first, and he was exposed to left field this spring. Having Escobar as the platoon DH option and on the bench makes the team stronger and more versatile.
Escobar being on the bench naturally coincides with Baty in the starting lineup. That would make the lineup deeper and the defense far better. As a result, the Mets would have been far better. Instead of pursuing that option, Eppler opted for excuses.
He said Nolan Arenado played more games in the minors. Of course, Arenado didn’t have to deal with a pandemic. Also, that wasn’t an issue when the Mets called up Baty last season.
In the end, this is the side product of a lot of things. Buck Showalter prefers veterans. The Mets are trying to justify two bad deals. Certainly, we cannot discount a bit of service time manipulation.
Whatever the case, the Mets 2023 Opening Day lineup isn’t nearly as good as it can or should be. As a result, Eppler failed the team in his main objective – getting the manager the best roster he possibly can.
While the New York Mets have addressed many of their offseason needs, the one area which remains unaddressed is DH. To a certain extent, it seems odd a team so willing to go well beyond the point where teams would consider spending has seen their offseason stall on this front. Certainly, the Carlos Correa drama was part of that.
However, the Mets did see viable options sign elsewhere. Andrew McCutchen purportedly turned down more money from the Mets to return to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Trey Mancini is a Chicago Cub. Adam Duvall just signed with the Boston Red Sox.
This leaves the Mets trying to talk themselves into the next tier of players. Jurickson Profar is a popular target, but he’s not much of a hitter. He does increase the Mets versatility, but he is also not someone who has not thrived in a reserve or part-time role.
Robbie Grossman is an interesting choice. He has good numbers against left-handed pitching, and he does have a good walk rate. Typically speaking, he makes good contact, and he can hold his own defensively. Moreover, he has thrived in a reserve/part-time role. However, he has zero power.
That brings us back to Darin Ruf. What this Mets team was sorely lacking was power, and the Mets gave up way too much to get Ruf to try to help address their power issues. Obviously, Ruf did not do that last season posting a 13 OPS+. He did get one postseason start drawing a walk and a HBP in his one start.
It should be noted Ruf did land on the IL after he was acquired by the Mets with a neck strain. Certainly, it’s possible that impacted his performance. If it did, the hope is he could be back to being a right-handed DH platoon option against left-handed pitching. In his career, he does have a 143 wRC+ against left-handed pitching.
He’s slightly more than a platoon DH option. He can spell Pete Alonso at first base on occasion. That’s important with Alonso needing a break every now and then. He can’t play the outfield everyday in his career, but he can at least play there for a game or an inning or two. This does have some value to the team.
Mostly, he’s simply replaceable. If he doesn’t get the job done, Eduardo Escobar or Mark Canha can easily take over his role. That would require the Mets to play Luis Guillorme as their primary second baseman, but that is something they should be doing anyway. There is also the question of when the Mets are going to call-up Francisco Álvarez or Mark Vientos to at least take over part of this role.
In the end, the Mets have Ruf and are paying him. He has a role which can be easily supplanted by the talent on this team. The upgrades on the free agent market are gone. At this point, the Mets might as well role with him and see if he can rebound.
Now that Carlos Correa has signed with the Minnesota Twins, the question is now what? The New York Mets still need to add another bat, and with Michael Conforto signing with the San Francisco Giants, their options have become even more limited.
One of the better hitters left on the market is Trey Mancini, who played for Buck Showalter with the Baltimore Orioles. At 31, it does seem as if he is moving past his prime, but he does have some thunder remaining in his bat.
Last season, Mancini had a 104 wRC+. That came on the heels of a 105 season, which was a drop from his 132 mark in 2019. Of course, two things must be noted here. First and foremost, he missed the 2020 season due to cancer. Second he was thriving with the Orioles before being traded to the Houston Astros at the trade deadline.
Looking at Baseball Savant, Mancini has seen his average exit velocities and barrels drop each of his past five seasons. However, he did hit enough last season to be an effective DH. He also appears to be one of the players who could benefit from the shift.
Last season, Mancini had a .228 wOBA against the shift. When he was not shifted, Mancini had a .314 wOBA. It should be noted the shift numbers have been anomaly for his career with him posting strong numbers against the shift for most of his career. Then again, that was back when he had a higher exit velocity.
Where Mancini does his damage is against right-handed pitching. In 2022, he had a 111 wRC+ against right-handed pitching against an 88 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. For his career, Mancini is actually better against left-handed pitching with a 112 wRC+ against a 111 against right-handed pitching.
Part of the reason for the change in numbers was his role with the Astros. Before the trade deadline, Mancini was a 98 wRC+ against left-handed pitching while with the Orioles. That dropped to a 64 with the Astros. It should also be noted Mancini is typically a much better first half player than second half player.
To a certain degree, we see Mancini did not and would not thrive in the role Darin Ruf had last year. On that note, Ruf did not thrive in that role. Ruf and Mancini are really everyday players or semi-regular players who have platoon advantages.
This is again where Daniel Vogelbach presents a problem. His numbers against right-handed pitching cannot be matched by anyone, but his possible platoon partners do not thrive on limited duty. That would seem to qualify for Mancini, who at this point in his career is an everyday DH who can fill-in at a position for a game or two. No more.
Perhaps, Billy Eppler can start moving things around to make Mancini or someone else a fit. However, it does appear too late in the game to start doing that. It seems Vogelbach is in place at DH. While the Mets should look to improve on Ruf, and Mancini promises to be that, it does not appear he can truly fulfill that role.
At first glance, Brandon Drury would seemingly be a perfect fit for the New York Mets. After all, he would check so many boxes for the 2023 roster, and as a result, it would make the Mets an even more formidable team.
Drury, 30, is coming off a career year where he had a career best 123 wRC+ and a career best 2.6 WAR. He held his own at third base last season with a 0 OAA while also holding his own at first and second. Historically, his best position is third.
For his career, Drury has had success against left-handed pitching. For his career, he has a 101 wRC+. However, last season, he absolutely destroyed left-handed pitching with a 160 wRC+. That’s not a fluke either as he had a 136 wRC+ against left-handed pitching the previous season with the Mets.
Certainly, that’s a factor in play here. Drury has shown the ability to play well in New York. In fact, he resurrect his career with the Mets in 2021. With him showing his renaissance wasn’t a fluke, it could mean this would be the perfect time for the Mets to bring him back.
Brandon Drury is now 7-for-15 with three home runs as a pinch hitter for the Mets in 2021.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) July 29, 2021
Immediately, you think he could be the perfect platoon partner for this team. He could share third with Luis Guillorme and/or Eduardo Escobar, or he could replace Darin Ruf as Daniel Vogelbach‘s platoon partner while giving the Mets the ability to allow him to spell Pete Alonso at first to help keep him fresh next season.
Again, Drury could very well be perfect, but then again, looking at Ruf could be a real warning when it comes to signing Drury.
Notably, Drury did have a great season with the Cincinnati Reds last season. He hit .274/.335/.520 with 22 doubles, two triples, 20 homers, and 59 RBI over 92 games. This led to Drury being traded to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline.
Drury was a markedly different player with the Padres. Over 46 games, he hit .238/.290/.435 with nine doubles, eight homers, and 28 RBI. He only played one game in the Wild Card Series against the Mets going 0-for-4. While an everyday player after the trade, Drury became a part-time player for the postseason due to his struggles with the Padres.
Looking at Drury’s career, he has always been a bit of a flawed player. He can hit the fastball, but as noted on Baseball Savant, he has long struggled with breaking and off-speed pitches. He thrived in that bandbox called the Great American Ballpark, but he struggled mightily in Petco Park.
We’ve also seen in his career that he’s struggled with the part-time role. Really, his career got derailed in Toronto when they tried to move him into that role. Certainly, the caveat was he thrived with the Mets in a pinch hitting role, but then again, he hit .184/.231/.225 in games he started for the Mets.
This is where the Mets need to be careful. If they pursue Drury, are they fully investing in him as an everyday player, or are they looking for him to be a part-time player? In essence, are they going to risk Drury thriving in a way Ruf could not.
For the Mets, it really may not make sense. The Escobar/Guillorme third base platoon was highly effective. The Mets also may be in a position to just give the job to Brett Baty and may not want to block him from the job in the long or short term. Essentially, the Mets are never going to even contemplate playing Drury at second.
This is the reason why Billy Eppler makes the big money. Decisions on players like Drury make or break seasons. If Drury can handle being a semi-regular who kills left-handed pitching, the Mets go to another stratosphere. If not, they’re stuck with him like they are currently with Ruf. Ultimately, this is the ultimate boom or bust decision.
Right now, the New York Mets are rumored to be listening to offers for Carlos Carrasco. This makes sense because the Mets should listen to offers on all of their players and make deals if it improves the team. That should go without saying.
There is also the matter of clearing up payroll to permit the Mets to address their bullpen, outfield depth, and find a better solution than Daniel Vogelbach and Darin Ruf at DH. Mostly, the Mets would be better served by having David Peterson in the rotation.
Peterson, 27, was the Mets 2017 first round pick (20th overall) out of the University of Oregon. At his age, this is exactly the time you would be expecting his career to take off, but frankly, to date, it has not gotten started. There are several reasons why that has happened.
After a promising 2020 rookie year in the pandemic shortened season, he predictably struggled in 2021 before succumbing to a shoulder injury. This would have the Mets under Steve Cohen bypass him as they looked to build an elite rotation designed to win the World Series. Despite that, Peterson would be needed, and he would have his moments.
Overall, as a starter, Peterson was 6-5 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.341 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, and a 10.9 K/9. He would also average 4.2 innings per start. The caveat there was in two September starts, he threw four innings total over two horrific starts. This came at a time the Mets were working to move him to the bullpen for the postseason. Without those two starts, he averaged 5+ innings per start.
No, these aren’t earth shattering numbers, and yes, the walks/control were an issue. However, there are some caveats with these numbers. He was bounced back-and-forth from the rotation and bullpen AND between the majors and Triple-A. That takes its toll on a player. Notably, Peterson did perform better in the majors than in Triple-A.
Another factor is Peterson did not get to really work with Jeremy Hefner the way the rest of the Mets pitching staff did. Notably, we did see Hefner help hone pitchers mechanics and work on their control. This was most notable with the work Hefner did with Edwin Díaz to get him to repeat his landing spot on the mound. As a result, we not only saw the best we’ve seen from the closer, but we also saw Díaz go from a 4.9 BB/9 in 2020 to a 2.6 last season.
Arguably, if Peterson is going to take that next step, he is going to need Major League coaching, be surrounded by pitchers like Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander for a full season, and really, he is going to need a chance.
Looking at the data, he is worth that chance. Per Baseball Savant, Peterson generates excellent extension, and he has a very good whiff%. That is shown with Peterson striking out 27.8% of the batters he faced last season, which is excellent. Part of the reason for that is despite lower fastball velocity and spin (which should be expected with a sinker) is Peterson’s excellent slider numbers.
Highest single-season slider whiff% by a lefty pitcher in the Statcast era (min. 250 sliders swung at):
Andrew Miller: 54.7% ('15)
Amir Garrett: 53.7% ('19)
Patrick Corbin: 53.1% ('18)
Corbin: 51.4% ('19)
Robbie Ray: 49.5% ('17)
Corbin: 49% ('16)
DAVID PETERSON: 47.9% ('22) pic.twitter.com/vSAd5nAdLQ
— Mathew Brownstein (@MBrownstein89) December 1, 2022
It is genuinely a strikeout pitch. Batters whiffed 47.9% of the time against the pitch. In and of itself, it is worth investing in that pitch to see what more the Mets could be getting out of Peterson. That slider is a hidden gem on this Mets staff, and they need to see it in the majors instead of Triple-A.
Put another way, Peterson still has a lot of upside. In many ways, he is still raw and needs more coaching and opportunities. For an older Mets rotation, they actually need Peterson’s upside. They need the younger starter who can surprise and have a good year. Somehow, some way, the Mets just need to get Peterson into the rotation and watch him take that next step because that next step could help the Mets win the World Series.