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.
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 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.
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.
Top of the ninth. Two outs. 3-2 count. New York Mets trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0. Andrew Chafin throws a good sinker on the outside part of the plate. Francisco Alvarez takes a huge cut, and . . .
FRANCISCO ÁLVAREZ STRIKES AGAIN!
A GAME-TYING HOMER IN THE NINTH! pic.twitter.com/NC2c0aDlFh
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 6, 2023
If you’re a Mets fan, that clutch opposite field homer is so reminiscent of Mets greats like Mike Piazza and David Wright. We’ve seen Alvarez been compared to Piazza, and Alvarez is actually wearing the number Wright always had wanted to wear.
We went through Generation K with Jason Isringhausen, Paul Wilson, and Bill Pulsipher breaking down. That uber rotation has whimpered. Jacob deGrom is with the Texas Rangers, and he needs a second Tommy John. Noah Syndergaard is with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he says he will give away his first born to be Thor again.
Zack Wheeler is with the Philadelphia Phillies, and Steven Matz‘s career is falling apart with the St. Lois Cardinals. Matt Harvey, who was supposed to be the best of them all, retired after the injuries and the off-the-field problems.
The Mets tales with the can’t miss prospect doesn’t typically end well. We need not look any further than Wright, whose path the to the Hall of Fame was derailed by spinal stenosis.
Despite the past, Alvarez feels different. In fact, he is different than just about any prospect. Seriously, you have to go all the way back to Johnny Bench to find a catcher who has been great on both sides of the ball the way Alvarez has been.
Right now, Alvarez is doing it all. Per Baseball Savant, he’s tied for sixth best in baseball in framing. He’s ninth in baseball in blocking balls in the dirt. Overall, he’s a terrific defensive catcher.
Francisco Alvarez with a nice catch! pic.twitter.com/6le6sD75F1
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) July 7, 2023
In addition to the defense is the bat, more specifically, the power. At the moment, he leads all major league catchers in homers. As we see with him, when they come, they come in bunches. In fact, he homered in all three games of the sweep of the Diamondbacks.
At the moment, he’s seventh among all major league catchers in fWAR (fourth in the NL). Since May 1, around the time when he took over being the everyday catcher, he ranks fifth overall.
However, in the end, it is not really about the award. Rather, with Alvarez, we see greatness. We see Gary Carter with more power, or Piazza with the ability to throw out base runners. At the moment, the sky is the limit for him.
Maybe this recent Mets run gets them back in the Wild Card race. It probably doesn’t. No matter what happens there, it is still not a lost season. The reason is because Alvarez is emerging as a real star in this league, and we see the next great Met emerging.
Even by New York Mets standards, this June Swoon was miserable. 7-19. Didn’t win a series. Not a one.
Went from two games over to 10 games under. In the NL East fight being down 3.5 games. Now completely out of it down 18.5 games.
One game up in the Wild Card standings. Now, 10 games back. Already sold off Eduardo Escobar. Multiple press conferences, and who knows what else to come.
Fortunately, June is over. It’s July, and the Mets have their last chance to turn things around. Being a team in that position, Justin Verlander was a great choice to have on the mound.
Verlander’s slider was working. As a really, the San Francisco Giants’ bats were not.
The Giants couldn’t do anything against Verlander in the seventh, and they needed a Pete Alonso error to do it. The only run they scored was off a double play, and Verlander made sure that was it.
Offensively, the Mets did what they needed. It started with Francisco Álvarez homering in the third. Suddenly, it looks like his slump is over, and he will be an offensive force again.
The defense was improved as we saw with Luis Guillorme quick on the game ending double play. There was a lot to like, and it started with great starting pitching.
At this point, you can dwell on the negative all you want. There’s plenty there not to like. However, on a day like this, there’s a win and finally reason to be happy.
Who knows? Maybe, the Mets go on a run, and it all started with Verlander. Chances are it’s not, but stranger things have happened.
At this point, let’s enjoy this one. There was a lot to like. Maybe 50 years later, history will repeat itself again. As Tug McGraw said then, “Ya Gotta Believe!”
Right now, the New York Mets are 34-40. They’ve recently lost a home series to the St. Louis Cardinals. Good luck finding hope for this season.
The Mets are 13.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. They’re seven games back in the Wild Card.
Only the St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals, and Colorado Rockies have a worse record than the Mets. The Mets have lost a series to all three of those teams.
Mark Canha and Tommy Pham are playing well lately. They give a team a veteran bat and presence. Daniel Vogelbach is hot of late, so you can hope he can keep it going until another GM is dumb enough to trade for him.
Point is there are assets, and there could be teams looking to trade sooner rather than later. After all, teams like San Diego and Seattle are always desperate to make a trade.
For various reasons, the Mets just shouldn’t expect much in return. We’re not talking about game changing players, and Billy Eppler is the Mets GM. Maybe if Steve Cohen eats some money, they can maximize the returns.
In reality, you’re not doing this for the lottery ticket prospect. Mostly, you’re doing it for the prospects and young players who are here.
Mark Vientos should at least be the DH. Ronny Mauricio should now get the call-up to play whatever position he is going to play. You need them to get acclimated to the majors and be ready to take on a big role in 2024.
You need to let David Peterson finish the season in the rotation. It’s time to see if he can be a fifth starter, reliever, or look to cut bait. After all, they’re effectively doing that already with Tylor Megill (he’s really a reliever).
Maybe take a glance at Luke Ritter. Sure, he’s an older prospect with very little Triple-A experience, but he’s breaking out this season. After all, what do you have to lose? Games? They’re doing that already.
Mets have to find out about these young players. They need to make it beyond impossible for Buck Showalter to sit them.
Maybe they surprise you like the Cincinnati Reds are surprising everyone. Likely, they won’t, and the Mets will falter. However, it’s better to falter with young players getting experience than watching this.
It’s time to start selling.
The first Subway Series was 1997, and it had all of New York enthralled. There was the upstart New York Mets led by Lance Johnson, Bernard Gilkey, and Todd Hundley, against the defending World Series champion New York Yankees.
The first Subway Series did something rare in sports. It exceeded the hype. Dave Mlicki is still a Mets legend for the complete game shutout to open the series culminated with striking out Derek Jeter to end the game.
The Mets would spoil a David Cone no-hit bid in the series finale and almost pull out a win. While the concept of the Mets and Yankees being rivals was a bit forced at the outset, we did see the beginnings of a rivalry.
The rivalry reached its apex in the 2000 World Series and with all the drama surrounding Mike Piazza and Roger Clemens. There was a lot more to it like former Mets greats like Cone, Dwight Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry returning to Shea.
Mostly, it was Bobby Valentine who knew the Mets underdog status. He embraced it, and he treated those games like they were must win. Typically, they were for him as it was usually a marker for how the Mets were performing that season.
Since 2000, we have seen the series go through ebbs and flows. There have been moments like the Luis Castillo dropped fly ball or Carlos Delgado‘s power display. Of course, there was the Shawn Estes/Clemens drama.
All that said, this series has never been the same since 2000. In reality, this series has never been at a lower point than it is right now.
The Yankees are in third place and nine games back of the Tampa Bay Rays, but they do have a half-game lead in the Wild Card race. The Mets are in fourth place, are four games under .500, and they trail by three games in the Wild Card race.
The Yankees are without Aaron Judge. The Mets are without Pete Alonso. The ticket prices are through the roof, and Citi Field still has not sold out the game. It’s also a two game set making the possibility of the teams walking away with a somewhat uninteresting split.
On the bright side, we are going to see Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander. The Baby Mets of Francisco Álvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos will get their first taste of this series, and more importantly, put their stamp on this series.
We may very well see competitive games with a number of storylines emerge. However, in the past, the storylines were already written because of all the intrigue surrounding the series. That intrigue is seemingly gone for now.
The absolute last thing the New York Mets needed was for Pete Alonso to hit the IL. He was on pace for a historic 60 homer season, and he was the Mets best player so far this season. Really, outside of him, Francisco Álvarez, and Brandon Nimmo, the Mets players have truly under-performed.
That said, the Mets did score 10 runs in the series finale against the Atlanta Braves proving they can score runs without Alonso. They just need other players to pick up the slack. Honestly, the Mets do have the talent to do that.
First and foremost, the Mets need Francisco Lindor to be more of an offensive threat. For much of last season, it was him and Alonso carrying the Mets offense. This year, he’s just at a 100 wRC+. The good news is this is the point of the year where Lindor typically takes off, and he’s right on schedule with a four game hitting streak.
In addition to Lindor, Jeff McNeil has to snap out of this funk he’s been all year. It seemed like the shift rules could help him chase history. Instead, he’s having one of his worst seasons mostly driven by an inability to hit on the road. He was last year’s batting champ. He needs to get much closer to that for the Mets to have a chance.
Brett Baty was supposed to be the solution at third. Instead, he has been mired in a deep slump for other a month. He’s really struggling hitting breaking pitches, and he’s pounding the ball into the ground. He’s coming off a two hit game, so maybe, there’s some hope for him still.
Buck Showalter has used every excuse not to play Mark Vientos, but now, it seems like he is out of excuses. Against the Atlanta Braves, we saw a rusty player who went from hot to fighting it. With Alonso out, Vientos can now finally get enough games to get into a groove and establish himself as a bona fide Major League power hitter.
These are all possibilities, and if these players can get going, the Mets will be fine offensively even without Alonso. However, that’s not going to be the biggest issue.
Mostly, the Mets need Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander to figure it out right now. This team is three games under .500 and in fourth place in the NL East. Much of that is because their co-aces have been more like deuces. They’ve been inconsistent and unreliable, and all we hear is that they are so close, blah, blah, blah.
Well, time is up with them. They need to finally deliver. We know the bullpen is unreliable and not going to get better. The Mets need length and quality innings from their starters. That starts with Scherzer and Verlander.
Finally, we go to Showalter. Look, at this point, he’s done enough to get fired by the team. He may treat this injury as an excuse for more Daniel Vogelbach and Mark Canha at first. He can’t. If he does, the Mets are sunk.
In the end, there are just a few Mets who have not under-performed. To a certain extent, that is actually good news. After all, that means if the Mets best players start performing, this team can start rolling off wins. Of course, the manager needs to let that happen, and the players need to start doing that now.
They have no other choice.
This probably should be the last straw for Buck Showalter. Every single time you think things can’t get worse, it gets worse.
It all started going bad in Atlanta last year. The Mets needed to win just one game to win the division. Instead, they were swept to complete a historic collapse.
The Mets followed that with a loss in the Wild Card Series. In the decisive Game 3, Showalter waited too long to have Joe Musgrove’s ears inspected, and he looked weak doing it.
This Mets team was supposed to be an NL East contender. At the moment, they’re 30-33 sitting in fourth place 8.5 games out of first place.
The season has hopefully reached its nadir as the Mets got swept by the Atlanta Braves. It marked the first time in Mets history where they lost three straight games they led by three runs.
This just feels like the final straw for a souring fanbase. The fanbase was souring well before this senseless quote.
There should be fingers pointed in many different directions, but usually, in these circumstances, it’s the manager who goes.
Admittedly, it’s not likely Showalter is fired. Same goes for Billy Eppler. At least not yet. However, that doesn’t mean the Mets shouldn’t do it.
At the moment, their hopes like with their young players. However, Showalter is reticent to fully deploy them, and we see him trying to hold them back. It’s really time for him to go.
Part of the issue is hiring interim managers is messy. You can’t conduct a full search. Oft times, you’re hiring a coach from a failed staff or shoe-horning a guy atop an existing staff.
If the Mets were to fire Showalter, they should consider hiring Carlos Beltrán as the interim manager.
Beltrán is already with the organization. He’s a name who could excite the fanbase and bring some juice to the team.
In the past, Beltrán was definitively not the guy. However, due to current circumstances, he could be exactly what the Mets need.
With much of the Mets hopes tied to Álvarez, Brett Baty, and Vientos, we should remember Beltrán mentored David Wright and Jose Reyes. He is also well aware of what Francisco Lindor is going through this year.
There’s a lot he knows. There’s so much more he doesn’t. It’s a free try for the Mets to see if he can. If he can’t, the season is teetering on lost anyway, and that’s with a manager who has done this for 22 years.
There’s also the karma of giving Beltrán the job after it was wrongly and needlessly taken away from him. If there’s any org that needs good karma right now, it’s the Mets.
Ultimately, this will not happen. Not now. Perhaps not ever.
Just because it won’t doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. We can dicker over Beltrán or the next guy (Eric Chávez?), but what is becoming incredibly clear is the Mets need a change. Showalter needs a change.
If the Mets do pull the trigger and fire Showalter, it will be a decision we can be proud of.