The Atlanta Braves were surging and unbeatable. The New York Mets were falling apart. This is 2021 all over again.
The Mets have Max Scherzer and just phenomenal starting pitching across the board. When you have pitching like this, you’re the team to beat in the division, and Scherzer reminded everyone of that.
Through the first six, Robinson Cano was the only one able to get a hit off of him. Of course, it was Cano, who the Braves obtained right before this series.
This is cause for worry for mere mortals, but this is Scherzer. The future Hall of Famer, and one of the fiercest competitors in all of pro sports, struck out Eddie Rosario to end the jam.
In the end, the Braves had a run. Even with the recently sputtering Mets offense, that was a low hurdle to jump. They jumped it easily.
Luis Guillorme hit what could’ve been an inning ending double play. Instead, Guillorme buster it out of the box resulting in an RBI fielder’s choice giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
It’s a good thing Guillorme delivered there because J.D. Davis was batting behind him. Davis had his usual terrible night at the plate marked by strikeouts, infield pop outs, and ground ball outs.
The Mets had Braves starter Max Fried on the ropes all night, but they couldn’t deliver the knockout punch. Ultimately, as a team, the Mets were 2-for-10 with RISP stranding 10.
It didn’t matter. Scherzer was just that good. So was the red hot Guillorme. In the eighth, he homered off Darren O’Day to increase the Mets lead to 3-1.
This marks his career high. Notably, half of Guillorme’s four homers have come against O’Day.
Guillorme was simply great. He was 2-for-3 with a run, double, homer, walk, and two RBI.
We saw the Mets add insurance runs. That made the job of the Mets bullpen that much easier.
It was a dance for Adam Ottavino, but he escaped the jam keeping the Mets ahead. After that, the Mets added an insurance run in the ninth.
With regards to that run, Nimmo and Francisco Lindor pulled off the rate hit-and-run. It was a good night at the plate for Lindor, who was 3-for-5. After an Alonso fielder’s choice, it was 4-1.
Faced with an interesting and potentially daunting option, Buck Showalter chose Edwin Diaz on a third straight night for the save. Diaz looked fully rested mowing down all three Braves he faces for his 19th save of the season.
Thinking long term, once Jacob deGrom comes back, the Mets pitching is unstoppable. It’s about seven innings from the top of this rotation with Diaz striking out the side in the ninth.
Really, that’s giving teams an inning or maybe two to score runs. The Mets offense can splutter all it wants, more often than not, they’re winning these games.
That’s what the Braves discovered. It’s what all of baseball was reminded of again.
October 4, 2016. Rogers Centre. American League Wild Card Game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays tie the score 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth. In the seventh inning, Buck Showalter used Donnie Hart to relieve Mychal Givens in the seventh. He went to Brad Brach in the eighth and ninth. When Brach was in trouble in the ninth, Showalter went to Darren O’Day. After using Brian Duensing to record an out in the 11th, Showalter went to Ubadlo Jimenez, who would lose the game.
The Orioles would be eliminated from the postseason, and it all happened while Zack Britton waited around for a save opportunity. That year, Britton was unequivocally the best reliever in baseball with a 0.54 ERA. He was awesome, but with elimination on the line, Showalter went with a number of different pitchers including Jimenez, a starter.
Buck: "Playing on the road had something to do with it too."
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) October 5, 2016
This was not an isolated instance in Showalter’s career. Go back to Game 5 of the ALDS. After pushing David Cone too far, the game was tied in the bottom of the eighth. Instead of going to John Wetteland, he opted for Jack McDowell, a starter. McDowell would lose the game in the 11th.
A lot changed in baseball from 1995 until 2016, and yet, Showalter hadn’t changed. Yes, there were instances he used a closer in a non-save situation on the road (Matt Mantei, Game 4 NLDS), but ultimately, this is who Showalter has been for better or for worse. He is not one to worry about leverage, stats, etc. He is going to manage by his guy more than anything else. As he puts it, he wants to use them to verify himself, not the other way around.
That’s not to say he hasn’t or won’t evolve. After all, his Orioles teams did implement shifting, and in an attempt to put his team in the best position to win, they tracked the results all season. However, when all is said and done, he’s going to do what he thinks is best. Again, this works at times and fails other times.
Here’s the big problem. He would be working for Sandy Alderson and Billy Eppler. Alderson notoriously wanted to minimize the manger role, and he wants constant input. It was something which beleaguered former Mets manager Luis Rojas, who had to strictly follow the scripts given to him.
Eppler was the Los Angeles Angels General Manager when Mike Scioscia “stepped down.” He then went with a more analytical and modern manager in Brad Ausmus, who was replaced after one season when the owner wanted Joe Maddon.
Another note here with Alderson and Eppler is the type of team they are building. They are clearly going heavy on older veterans in an attempt to win now. Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte, and Max Scherzer are all in their 30s and have played for several years. That has usually been a bad mix for Showalter.
As noted when he was fired by the Arizona Diamondbacks, their veteran laden roster needed less of a disciplinarian and more of a player’s manager. That’s been his career. He is exceptional with younger teams teaching them the right way to play. He gets the most out of them. After a while, his personality and style of managing tends to wear on players, and he’s out.
None of this is to say he’s not a good manager. Showalter is a very good manager. If this were the 2019 Mets, he was a perfect fit for that younger team learning how to win. This is not that team. This is a very veteran team who needs a manager better suited to getting top performances from top players. They need more of a collaborator with the front office who will demand it.
Who the Mets new manager should be remains a very good debate. If they do wind up hiring Showalter, they will certainly win games. However, at the end of the day, this is a poor fit with Showalter and the Mets being better suited to finding a different match.
Thanks to the Washington Nationals, we can’t watch New York Mets baseball just yet. What we could do was see former Mets pitchers in action.
Matt Harvey took the ball for the Baltimore Orioles, and he looked good. His slider was moving, and he touched 95 MPH. Unfortunately, he fell one-third of an inning short of the win.
Matt Harvey, 94mph Fastball…and gets the fist pump from Severino. pic.twitter.com/A7rSeI92sG
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 3, 2021
Zack Wheeler took the ball for the Philadelphia Phillies, and he’d have more hits himself than he allowed. He was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.
Zack Wheeler was rollin'. pic.twitter.com/hdXs1mqI3k
— MLB (@MLB) April 3, 2021
On the mound, he struck out 10 over 7.0 innings with the only hit against him coming from Travis d’Arnaud.
All-in-all, it was a pretty good day for former Mets pitchers. Hopefully, that momentum for Mets pitchers will confine when the Mets are finally able to start their season on Monday.
Back on August 16, 2017, the New York Mets faced a rash of injuries. Instead of postponing the game, Travis d’Arnaud, a catcher, rotated with Asdrubal Cabrera between second and third all game long. The reason that happened is Major League Baseball does not cancel games when teams face injuries.
At times, this leads to tough and frankly bad decisions. A classic example was when the New York Mets took a risk by designating Darren O’Day so Nelson Figueroa could make a start. That led to O’Day getting claimed by the Texas Rangers. O’Day is still pitching now whereas Figueroa last pitched in the majors two years after this decision, and he had a full career arc as the Mets postgame analyst.
Point is, teams are forced to play through injuries. Baseball is unforgiving that way. However, when it comes to COVID teams are not forced to play. Sure, the Miami Marlins played with COVID last year, and Don Mattingly was rewarded for putting the entire season in jeopardy by naming him the National League Manager of the Year, but that is another story for another day.
On the eve of Opening Day, there was a Washington Nationals player who tested positive for COVID, and through contact tracing, an additional four Nationals players were put into quarantine. Since that first test, four other Nationals players have tested positive, and the Opening Day game between the Mets and and the Nationals has been postponed indefinitely.
Again, if there were five Mets players injured and unavailable on Opening Day, the Mets would have been forced to play the game. They would have been put in the position over whether they call up players or roll with the players they had available. Understandably, COVID is different than a torn hamstring, but not really in terms of player availability.
Because of COVID concerns, Major League Baseball has allowed teams to carry a taxi squad of five players with them on road trips. When not on road trips, those players are at the team’s alternate site. Put another way, Major League teams are supposed to have five players ready to be called up to play at a moment’s notice if there is a COVID issue. Coincidentally, that number coincides with the amount of players the Nationals had out.
Now, there are reports Max Scherzer, the Opening Day starter, was away from the team. So, we know he was available. Past him, we really don’t have any idea who could or could not play. On a related note, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said their entire team is in quarantine. Again, while there are reports both teams could play on Saturday, in reality, if the entire Nationals team is in quarantine, there is really no knowing when they will be able to play.
That puts the Mets at a significant disadvantage to start their season. The Mets were setting their rotation where they did not have to use a fifth starter early on in the season. That helped alleviate the loss of Carlos Carrasco, and it did give them a preview of Joey Lucchesi, who may be destined for the bullpen once Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard are ready to return. Again, this was the Mets plan, but now, they can’t execute their plan because the Nationals players got infected with COVID at a time when none of the other 29 teams had any issues.
The answer can’t be for the Mets and Nationals to cancel an entire series. This would have the Mets dormant for half a week before they have to travel to play a Phillies team who has already been playing. This is how you create injuries and problems. Again, if the Mets suffer injuries as a result of this, no one is postponing their games until that players is healthy.
Really, Major League Baseball has to have a better answer than to shut down a healthy team abiding by COVID protocols. The Nationals should be forced to call up their Triple-A team to play if that what is necessary. On that note, there is no Triple-A baseball until May. These are games on the schedule, and the weather is permitting them to play.
Instead, the Mets are going to have to scrap their plans for the rotation, be forced to play cold against teams already warmed up, and they are going to have to force games in later in the season when we are already concerned about pitchers being able to sustain the 2021 season after the 2020 shortened season.
This is ridiculous, and Major League Baseball has to have a better response than postponing games and kicking the rock down the road. Of course, they don’t, so they are going to put the Mets in a precarious position now and in the future. And we know if anyone gets injured as a result of this recklessness, the Mets will play that game even if it means someone playing out of position the way d’Arnaud once did.
At this point, it’s clear Jason Vargas isn’t just pitching with a fork in him; he’s got the whole utensil drawer there. As such, it’s time to look for someone to replace him in the rotation. While Mets fans have been imploring the team to add Dallas Keuchel, it seems like the Mets would not be willing to add that much payroll.
Fortunately, the Mets still have some very interesting internal options:
Seth Lugo – definitively the Mets fifth best starter, but he arguably has more value in the bullpen.
Robert Gsellman – hasn’t had the success in the bullpen everyone imagined he be and may just be better suited to the rotation
Corey Oswalt – it’s hard to get a read on him with how the Mets have jerked him around, but he’s still had flashes of viability
Chris Flexen – he has a surgically repaired knee and is in terrific shape giving hope he can finally put that fastball/curve combo to good use.
Anthony Kay – Mets haven’t been shy rushing starters from Double-A to the majors, and Kay has excellent spin rates on his fastball and curve.
David Peterson – the Mets 2017 first round pick is off to a good start, which is more than you can say for Vargas.
Hector Santiago – he was an All-Star in 2015, and based on what we’ve seen having previously being an All-Star is all you need to get a rotation spot.
Drew Gagnon – in his one start last year, he at least managed to pitch into the fifth, which is much better than what we’ve seen this year.
P.J. Conlon – last year, Conlon showed he shouldn’t be trusted for more than 2-3 innings. It’d be nice to get a fifth starter who could provide that much length.
Walker Lockett – he’s in Extended Spring Training with an injury, and he had a 9.60 ERA in the majors last year, so all told, he’s an upgrade.
Paul Sewald – Mets have never been worried about pushing Sewald too far, so certainly, you could see them randomly asking five from him, and those five would likely be better than any five Vargas throws this year.
Mickey Callaway – had a 6.27 career ERA and last pitched in the majors 15 years ago, which means his arm is probably fresh enough to hit the mid 80s.
Luis Guillorme – it’s not like they’re using him as the team’s backup middle infielder, and we know he’d at least be able to field his position well, which unlike Vargas, would be at least one thing Guillorme could do well as a pitcher.
J.D. Davis – he has a career 3.38 ERA in limited appearances, which make sense considering he hits and fields his position like a pitcher.
Pete Alonso – his being on the Opening Day roster was supposed to be the difference between the Mets making the postseason and not. With Vargas being terrible every fifth day, he’s apparently going to need to do more than hit.
And therein lies the problem. The Mets sold their fans they desperately needed 12 games from Alonso while simultaneously punting 32 starts from the fifth spot in the rotation. That’s an even bigger joke than anything said in this post.
With Jacob deGrom receiving his contract extension, it appears he is going to be a Mets pitcher during his prime, and it sets the stage for him to join David Wright and Ed Kranepool as Mets for life. With that being the bulk of the list, there is a host of Mets players who got away. The most famous of which was Tom Seaver who headlined the Midnight Massacre. Putting Seaver aside, the Mets bloggers discussed those players who got away:
Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)
Honestly in recent memory John Olerud comes to mind. He had one of the best pure swings I can remember. Other than that I guess you have to bring up Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner, but who saw those coming?
Daniel Murphy is the most recent Met to have gotten away. And, I’ve heard there are people in the front office who would like a mulligan on that one as well. Having him in 2016 and 2017 would’ve been huge, and not having him kill the Mets in DC would have been huge too.
Allison McCague (Amazin’ Avenue)
To me the most egregious example of a Met getting away is Justin Turner, simply by virtue of how little it would have cost to keep him. Of course, it was impossible to know that he would put up the numbers he did after leaving the Mets, but unlike the Murphy situation where it was a choice not to sign the player as a free agent, they non-tendered a perfectly serviceable utility man just because they didn’t want to pay him and trashed his character on the way out for good measure. I think a dark horse candidate in this conversation, however, would be Collin McHugh, who changed his approach after joining the Astros by throwing his fastball less often and his off-speed pitches more often to much greater success than he ever had as a Met. And now he remains a key piece in the Astros bullpen as they head into another season where they will likely make a push for the postseason.
I’ll give you Justin Turner for sure. What irks me is he’s a good guy and even in the form he was in when he was here, was a valuable piece for the solution. That he evolved thanks to the tutelage of Marlon Byrd while he was here makes it even worse, since this version of Justin Turner would‘ve unquestionably transformed the Mets.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)
Olerud; he was a far superior player to Todd Zeile. Just look at his seasons 2000-02; think he would have helped? In my opinion, if Mets have Olerud, they win 2000 World Series. My God, remember the Zeile farewell tour? Infamnia!
Tim Ryder (MMO)
I’m gonna hesitantly go with Melvin Mora. The guy he got traded away for, Mike Bordick, was a fine pickup and helped that 2000 team get over the hump, no doubt. But Mora went on to have a solid little career and Bordick was back in Baltimore via free agency the following season.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
The Mets let 18-year-old Paul Blair go to the Orioles in the minor league draft of 1962. Blair played 18 seasons in the majors, winning eight Gold Gloves as the premier AL center fielder of his generation.
Then again, had the Mets kept Blair, they wouldn’t have needed to trade for Tommie Agee prior to 1968, and Agee robbed Blair in the 1969 Series, so all’s well that ended well, perhaps.
Pete McCarthy (OABT)
I thought Nolan Ryan was the only answer to this question, but there are some fun ones in here. Yay Mets!
Far be it from me to disagree with you Pete but Ryan wanted out as much as the Mets were frustrated with him. It wasn’t so much that they traded Ryan and he became a Hall of Famer after it’s what they traded him for.
Scott Kazmir would like a word.
There is always going to be a part of me who wonders what would have happened if the Mets kept Darryl Strawberry. He would have one good year in Los Angeles before everything fell apart for both him and the Mets. For those who forget, the Mets opted to replace him with Vince Coleman, who was detestable as a Met, and it lead to a series of poor decisions which built as bad and unlikable a Mets team as we have ever seen. For Strawberry, his personal problems were far worse than anything the Mets encountered.
Looking at everything, there are a number of mistakes like trading Jeff Kent for Carlos Baerga, but that at least indirectly led to the team signing Robin Ventura. Murphy leaving transferred the balance of power back to the Nationals.
But overall, the one which comes to mind right now is Matt Harvey. For Harvey, it was more than trading him for Devin Mesoraco. It was everything. The 2013 version looked like future Hall of Fame. The 2015 version looked like a staff ace. The ramifications of that 2015 season were far reaching, and we never saw Harvey return, literally and figuratively.
Before you go away from this piece, please sure you click on the links and visit the sites of those who have taken their time to contribute to this roundtable.
Also, a very special congratulations to Pete McCarthy and his wife on the birth of their baby girl!
Time and again this offseason, the Mets have informed everyone they have sufficient payroll to make more moves even if they land Ben Zobrist. The team has identified the bullpen as a position of need. Well, while the Mets are negotiating with Zobrist relievers are coming off the board:
- Darren O’Day for 4 years $31 million
- Joakim Soria for 3 years $25 million
- Jason Motte for 2 years $10 million
- Chad Qualls for 2 years $12 million
- Shawn Kelley (terms not yet disclosed)
- Ryan Madson for 3 years $22 million
- Mark Lowe for 2 years $13 million
- Trevor Cahill for 1 year $4.25 million
- Oliver Perez for 2 years $7 million
Now, I think the bullpen is fine. However, the Mets don’t, and that’s what is important. They’re letting free agent relievers sign reasonable contracts elsewhere while they’re stuck on Zobrist. It makes you question if they really do have the money to address all their needs.
There are still free agent relievers out there, but the high end guys are gone. How many more will come off the board until the Mets address what they’ve identified as a position of need?
MLB Trade Rumors updated where the Mets are this offseason. Unsurprisingly, the prognosis isn’t good. Despite the overtures that increased attendance will mean increased payroll, it appears the Mets won’t make good on that promise.
In the post, it discussed how the Msts appear unwilling to make the type of contract it would take to sign the following players:
The Mets just came off of an NL Pennant. There’s more money. There are holes in this roster. Instead of filling the holes, the Mets are creating new ones. It’s making an already frustrating offseason even more so.
If the Mets choose not to spend any money on these players, who are they going to pursue? Jason Heyward? Not likely. Instead the Mets will turn to the likes of Dilson Herrera, Matt Reynolds, and whatever other cheap players they could acquire. This is what the Mets seem to believe is the appropriate course.
By not negotiating with Murphy inseason, the Mets have put themselves in the predicament of having to overpay for a player. They didn’t mind it last year with Michael Cuddyer. However, now it’s a problem with Murphy and Tejada. It’s a problem with two players that helped bring you to the postseason and the World Series. I’m still perplexed this team isn’t going to spend to try to bring this team right back to the World Series.
I guess that just means all Mets fans are Charlie Brown and the Mets are like Lucy. They give us hope and taking it away laughing. We’re just flat on our backs looking like idiots.
With the Mets having limited money to spend, they seemingly have two options: (1) improve a strength; or (2) address a weakness. With the Mets have holes at both middle infield spots and centerfield, depending on your point of view, the Mets may be looking to improve a strength:
Sounds like Mets like O’Day too, which is obvious. But easy to see his market heating up and being out of reach.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) November 6, 2015
Without making a move, the Mets already have a good bullpen. Why improve it with all the other holes? Why address the bullpen when the Mets are losing Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes? The reason is you can’t bring back both. Therefore, no matter what happens you’re going to be playing in tight games next year. The best way to handle those games is with great pitching.
The Mets have great starting pitching, but only a good bullpen. The addition of Darren O’Day would make the bullpen great. In six of the eight years he’s pitched, he has had an ERA of 2.28 and below. For his career, righties hit .193/.261/.279. Lefties hit him better to the tune of .235/.294/.409. As you would expect, lefties hit the submarining O’Day better than righties, but they don’t exactly hit him well. Furthermore, O’Day has been improving against them while he’s been in Baltimore:
- 2014: .189/.264/.368
- 2015: .210/.293/.333
O’Day has become a terrific set-up man. Combining him with Jeurys Familia would make every game a seven inning game with the Mets. With their starting pitcher, that’s a dangerous proposition for the Mets opponents.
It may also be what the Mets need with what promises to be a diminished Mets offense.