DJ Stewart

Danny Mendick, Rafael Ortega, and DJ Stewart Is Losing Without Purpose

The New York Mets can call it what they want, but they had a fire sale where they overhauled the organization. Finally, they built the type of farm system which can create the sustainable winner Steve Cohen coveted when he first purchased the team.

Saying the quiet part out loud, the next step in the Mets plan is to lose enough games to get a top six pick in the draft. Put in other words, the Mets are tanking. They need to tank because if they have a pick outside the top six they will drop 10 spots in draft position due to their payroll.

For the Mets, they now have to decide how they want to tank. Do they want to tank while failing to put a representative and competitive product on the field? Do they want to best use this time to get get a look at and develop young players? Or, do they just want to be horrendous and go through the motions?

Checking into the Mets series finale against the Kansas City Royals, Buck Showalter had his old Baltimore Orioles buddy DJ Stewart batting second. Rafael Ortega was in center. It was at least the first game since the trade deadline Danny Mendick, who played eight of the last nine, wasn’t in the starting lineup.

Stewart and Mendick are 29 years old. Ortega is 32. Up until this point in their careers, none of these players have been able to stick on Major League rosters. Given their age, it is fair to question whether that will ever happen .

Being fair to Stewart, he has made the most of his second chance. You could argue he could carve out a role in the Mets for the next year or two. That goes double with Daniel Vogelbach likely being gone after this year. However, you cannot say the same of Mendick or Ortega.

For an example of what the Mets should be doing, we can look to Jonathan Araúz. He just turned 25, and he was once thought of as a top prospect with the Boston Red Sox organization. There is real value in getting a long look at him to determine if he has a future with the Mets in a utility role.

There is dignity and a purpose getting a long look at Araúz. The same could be said about taking a look at Ronny Mauricio and letting him work with the Mets coaching staff to let them weigh in on whether his future is at second or any one of the three outfield positions.

Luke Ritter is having a big year in the minors, and he will be Rule 5 eligible again this offseason. Jose Peroza will also be Rule 5 eligible. There are others in the organization. Arguably, one of these two could be taken in the draft.

If you may be in a position where you are forced to add them, why not take a look now? The same could be said of some relievers like Dedniel Núñez, who was already once taken in the Rule 5 Draft.

The overriding point here is the Mets have young prospects having big years. There is nothing wrong with giving them a look at the Major League level. If they are drowning, send them down, and let them be better for the experience. You can get an evaluation from the Major League coaching staff. If you’re not impressed, you have more information at your disposal as you move on from them.

Overall, you are going to lose as many games (perhaps more) than you will be with Mendick, Ortega, and Stewart. However, you will be furthering your organizations goals. Mostly, you are giving your fans something to see who have stuck with you during this disappointing season, and you hope will be there next year as you change course from your past offseason strategies.

Ronny Mauricio Should Be Called-Up

The New York Mets recognized they were not going to win in 2023. As a result, they had a fire sale (even if they don’t want to call it one) trading away Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Dominic Leone, Tommy Pham, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander. That was then followed by reports the Mets are not going to try to win a World Series in 2024, but promised to put out a team which could contend for the Wild Card.

With that the rest of the 2023 season is about the future. To some degree, we have already seen that with Francisco Álvarez surpassing Omar Narváez as the Mets primary catcher, and Brett Baty continuing to work through a tough rookie season. The Mets took it a step further with Buck Showalter actually allowing Mark Vientos to DH against Zack Greinke instead of turning to Daniel Vogelbach.

With the trades, Starling Marte on the IL, and Brandon Nimmo having a quad issue during batting practice, we saw DJ Stewart, Danny Mendick, and Rafael Ortega in the lineup. Putting aside the Mets now trying to finish in the bottom six to preserve their draft position, those players being in the lineup, let alone on the roster, does not fortify the Mets plans to build for the future.

Seeing those players in the lineup and the Mets fire sale, it is now time to call up Ronny Mauricio.

Now, is Mauricio ready for the majors? Well, in all honesty, the answer is probably not. He still only has a 5.7 BB%, which is an improvement over what he posted in Doube-A Binghamton last season. His strikeout rate is down as well. Meanwhile, he is struggling to find a defensive home away from shortstop.

To a certain degree, we can argue Mauricio has gotten as far as he could in Triple-A. He is still very much the aggressive hitter now that he was to start the season. In fact, he’s very much the same player he was all of last season. At this point, it may just be that Mauricio needs to see Major League pitching to see what he needs to do to become a Major Leaguer.

Put another way, maybe it is time to let Mauricio fail. Let him go struggle against Major League pitching and see he needs to be more patient and/or more selective at the plate. Let him start to learn the lesson it took Jose Reyes nearly four seasons to learn. Get him on the right path and don’t let him go down the same path Amed Rosario did.

If the Mets were contenders, there is no room for learning on the job. However, they’re not contending. Quite the opposite.

For the moment, the Mets have to determine how to better use the final months of the season. Should they completely waste the playing time on players like Stewart, Mendick, and/or Ortega, or do they give Mauricio a shot? Do they let him learn what it takes to be a Major League player while getting the benefit of Major League coaching as he tries to continue to adapt as a hitter while learning new positions,.

The Mets are now looking to win in 2025, which means their young players need to start taking leaps in 2024. The best way to help that process is to get Mauricio learning how to be a Major Leaguer now. He’s done all he is going to do in Triple-A, and now, it is time for him to start learning what he can only learn in the majors.

Mets Bad First Half Ends Terribly

Just when you got good vibes going with the New York Mets winning six in a row to open July, they enter the All Star Break losing two in a row. The Saturday loss wasn’t that bad as you knew it was going to be a tough game.

The Mets started David Peterson, who battled and kept the Mets in the game. They had Pete Alonso and Francisco Alvarez up as the tying run in the ninth, but Josh Hader was better. You tip your cap and move onto the next game.

The next game was the real problem.

After what seemed like a resurgence, Max Scherzer again wasn’t good. The struggling Manny Machado tagged him with a three run homer in the first inning. This wouldn’t prove to be one of those get the ace early because he’ll shut you down moments because Machado would hit a two run homer against Scherzer in the fifth.

The Mets offense sputtered, and this time Joe Musgrove didn’t need an oil slick on his ears to do it.

Tommy Pham went down with an injury. Buck Showalter made sure to bat one of his old Baltimore Orioles, DJ Stewart, above Alvarez and Brett Baty. Really, no one was particularly good on the day, and Brandon Nimmo continues to be mired in an 0-for-20 stretch. He’s also 3-for-30 in July.

To a certain extent, these last two games might have caused fans needless hand-wringing. We did get a little excited with the winning streak, especially with it coming against good teams. We thought there might be a glimmer of hope that the Mets were getting back into the race. With the way the starting pitching was going, there was good reason for it.

As it stands now, the Mets are 18.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves. They are also seven games back in the Wild Card. They trail five teams for that last Wild Card spot including the San Diego Padres who leaped ahead of the Mets after this series.

It’s too much to say this series ended the season. After all, their putrid June probably did that. Rather, this might’ve just been another nail in the coffin. No, it’s not over, and we have seen stranger things happen (1973, 2016). However, it is a series like this that should have us temper our expectations until further notice.