For some reason, the New York Mets just don’t want to give Dominic Smith a full time job. Worse yet, they don’t want him to earn it either.
Consider this, of all the players on the Opening Day roster, Smith is the only player who has not started at least four games in a row. Yes, that does mean Travis Jankowski has.
At the time, Smith was hitting .186/.287/.256. Again, when that’s your line, you put yourself in that position, especially when you have options.
However, Davis has similarly faltered. Since June 19, he’s hitting .162/.279/.297 striking out 16 times in 43 plate appearances (37.2%). That’s with a three hit game!
Nowhere will you find the Mets even contemplating sending down Davis. Again, he’s not hitting at all, and he can’t field any position. He’s literally useless to this Major League roster.
Despite that, he continues to get at-bats at the expense of Smith. Even with Smith historically faring better against left-handed pitching, they’ll sit Smith for Davis.
You don’t do this if you’re invested in Smith. That goes double when Smith had a hot bat. The reason is the Mets, at least the Sandy Alderson directed Mets, have never been truly invested in Smith.
This goes back to 2017 and 2018.
Smith was given competition to Adrian Gonzalez, who was really signed to play. The Mets preference was made all the easier when Smith was late to pregame, and Mickey Callaway felt the need to display his authority.
This was before Smith’s sleep apnea was diagnosed and treated.
To make matters worse, Smith was used as a left fielder for a good portion of the time. This was a first round pick and top 100 prospect. A Mets team completely out of it thought the best course of action was to see what he had . . . in the outfield.
Keep in mind, Rosario struggled, and the Mets went out of their way to ensure he’s have no competition for the job. Better yet, the team sent down Luis Guillorme for a stretch leaving Rosario as the ONLY shortstop on the roster.
Between 2018 and the present, there’s a pattern, and the person at the helm has been Sandy Alderson. People can say he’s out of the loop, but he’s out there making statements the Mets need to address the DH position.
That was yet another shot at Smith, a player he didn’t want.
Remember, the Mets nearly traded Smith for Eric Hosmer (horrendous contract), Chris Paddack (injured pitcher with a 96 ERA+), and Emilio Pagan (81 ERA+ over last three seasons). That’s just how much they wanted rid of Smith.
They wanted to take on a ton of money to get worse. It’s no wonder Steve Cohen was reportedly forced to nix the deal.
That’s all well and good, but the front office response was just to not let Smith earn a job. On some level, that’s personal. There’s certainly a history backing it up.
Overall, the Mets didn’t want Smith. Alderson has a long track record of not giving him a fair shot. Now, the Mets are ready to move on without even so much as giving him a week of starts to try to earn a job.
With Jarred Kelenic and the Seattle Mariners coming to town, many will attempt to re-litigate the shocking trade which sent Kelenic to the Seattle Mariners organization as a part of a trade package for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Of course, 2022 performances invite revisionist history here.
This season, Diaz has clearly been the top performer from this trade. Through 14 appearances, he is 1-0 with seven saves, a 1.93 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, and a 15.4 K/9. He looks like he’s having a career year, but it’s important to note much of that is due to Jeremy Hefner.
Hefner has diligently worked with Diaz on his mechanics making sure his delivery has been repeatable, and he’s landing with his foot pointed towards home plate. He’s also helped Diaz create more break and spin leading to a 55. Whiff%. Really, it took four years for Diaz to be what the Mets expected him to be.
In many ways, Diaz is not the same pitcher he was in his first three years with the Mets. That’s very good to a certain extent because that Diaz was not the difference maker he was advertised to be.
On that point, it is important to remember the trade to obtain him was a win-now deal for the Wilpons who were nearing being forced to sell the New York Mets to the highest bidder. Really, the deal smelled like a one last shot to try to win a World Series, and ironically, it was the trade that prevented the Mets from winning that World Series.
In 2019, Diaz was dreadful with a career worst 5.59 ERA, 74 ERA+, and 4.51 FIP. He blew seven saves and lost seven games for a Mets team which missed the postseason by three games. Really, Diaz was a big reason why the Mets missed the postseason that year.
Cano might’ve been a bigger reason. Cano was the target as Brodie Van Wagenen sought to bring his former client back to New York as Cano wanted. Cano responded with a career worst season with a 0.6 WAR and a 94 wRC+. This was supposed to be a key bat in the lineup, and Cano was terrible while Van Wagenen ensured Mickey Callaway batted his former client third.
With Cano, it is the gift which keeps on giving. Yes, he had a bounce-back 2020 season, but as we learned, he was using PEDs again. That cost him the 2021 season, and with him able to physically return, it was $40.5 million the Mets did not get to spend.
Instead of keeping Aaron Loup or further addressing the bullpen, the Mets were restricted to Adam Ottavino and Chasen Shreve. Instead of a Kris Bryant, Michael Conforto, or Seiya Suzuki, the Mets obtained Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar, who have so far underwhelmed this season.
Really, that has been the theme of Cano’s time on the Mets. It’s been the organization wasting resources on him that could have been better spent. The biggest example of that is Zack Wheeler desperately wanted to stay with the Mets, but they couldn’t keep him because the money was going to Cano.
As a result, the Mets dead weight became the Phillies ace. The Wilpons didn’t have any money to spend in the ensuing offseasons, and Steve Cohen has $20.25 million per year he can’t spend on better talent through next season.
There’s also the matter of this season. The Mets completely wasted plate appearances over the first month of the season trying to see what they had in Cano. The answer was nothing, and they were happy to part with him and his onerous contract. However, that came with a consequence with Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis not getting the playing time they needed to succeed this season.
There were some who wanted to defend the trade because the Mets moved “untradeable contracts.” The Mariners had no problem trading Jay Bruce whatsoever. They also traded Anthony Swarzak, who helped the Atlanta Braves win the division.
Also, keep in mind the Mets parted with two Top 100 prospects in Kelenic and Justin Dunn. Certainly, Kelenic has struggled early in his career, and Dunn is dealing with a shoulder injury. Certainly, that is part of a very suspect Mariners player development system where we constantly ask why their prospects never seem to pan out.
However, this is also very much besides the point. Back in the 2018 offseason, that duo could have gotten the Mets anything they wanted. Teams would have been literally lining topping one another to get Kelenic and Dunn.
Remember, this deal came in the same offseason the Miami Marlins traded J.T. Realmuto. Instead, the Mets hastily accepted a closer and an albatross.
That deal cost the Mets the 2019 postseason. It cost them the opportunity to compete in 2020. It cost them the ability to make deadline deals in 2021 because that trade and all of Van Wagenen’s trades cost them valuable prospect depth needed to swing the trades the Mets needed. It was also $40.5 million the Mets did not have to spend on free agents.
It will again impact the Mets at the trade deadline and this ensuring offseason. All told, this deal remains an unmitigated disaster no matter how great Diaz is or how much Kelenic struggles.
In what may be the last time Michael Conforto plays at Citi Field as a member of the New York Mets, he would have a night to remember. He was 3-for-5 with a run, double, and two RBI. That double came in his final at-bat of the night:
Michael Conforto puts a cap on his day with a ground-rule double! 3 hits on the night! pic.twitter.com/nCyZEOc6k7
— SNY (@SNYtv) October 1, 2021
This night was the type of night we always expected from Conforto. He had clutch hits and terrific defensive plays in right field. The fans serenaded him and begged him to stay. It was just an emotional night with him at center stage:
Michael Conforto gets his ovation ? pic.twitter.com/XubI2SAWlr
— SNY (@SNYtv) October 1, 2021
If we look at just last night, it was a fitting end to Conforto’s time in New York, at least the Citi Field portion. However, expanding it out, it just doesn’t feel like Conforto would be leaving the right way. There is just too much unfinished business for him here.
When Conforto was first called up, we saw a superstar. In his rookie year, he certainly delivered on that. Yes, we will always go back to the two home runs in Game Four of the 205 World Series, but it was much more than that. As an aside, the fact we don’t call that Conforto Corner is our collective failure.
He’d homer in Game 2 of the NLDS. He had a sacrifice fly in Game 1 of the World Series. In a moment forever burned in my memory, Conforto came up to bat in the bottom of the 12th inning in Game Five. The Mets were down 7-2, there were two outs, and he was down in the count 1-2 to Wade Davis. Conforto didn’t give up. In fact, he would single.
In many ways, that is what should truly define Conforto’s tenure with the New York Mets – He didn’t give up.
After that rookie season, he would come out and establish himself as the best player on the Mets at the start of the 2016 season. That was until he got hurt. Between the injury and changing positions, Conforto fought it all year long. Instead of acknowledging the impact of the injury, an unfair narrative emerged. They put the label on him he couldn’t hit left-handed pitching and that Madison Bumgarner broke him.
It seems dumb in retrospect, but Conforto wasn’t quite guaranteed a starting job in 2017. Conforto would force his way into the lineup, and he would emerge as a new style of lead-off hitter. He would become an All-Star. At the time, it seemed like the first of many. Unfortunately, partially because of a devastating shoulder injury, to date, it would be Conforto’s only appearance.
It was a downright miracle Conforto was ready for Opening Day in 2018. Actually, it was a miracle and downright malpractice by the Mets organization. Instead of giving him the time he really needed, they pushed him forward. He struggled early on leaving many to wonder if he would ever fulfill his promise; if the injury robbed him of his career.
Conforto would have a strong second half in 2018, and he would carry that forward into 2019. He’d do that while moving to right field to help the team, and he would do it while being a leader. Early on, the Mets knew Conforto was a true leader. It wasn’t that the Wilpons saw and pushed it like they did with David Wright. Rather, it was what the clubhouse themselves saw.
Players like Jay Bruce, Michael Cuddyer, and Curtis Granderson would take Conforto under their wing and help guide him. This would pay dividends later as Conforto would emerge as the true leader in the clubhouse. He was always front and center answering questions, and he made sure to quash any problems which could emerge in the Mets clubhouse as a result of the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal.
In the disaster that was the 2020 season, Conforto was one of the best players in all of baseball. While the Mets did falter, Conforto was truly great. By OPS+, it was his best year at the plate. He was that .300 hitter we all knew he could be one day. If there was an All-Star team, he would’ve been one. This is where his career should have springboarded.
With Conforto’s Job like luck, he’d get COVID entering Spring Training. Then, he’d suffer a hamstring injury. This really robbed him of the chance to get get up to game shape and speed. Like in 2016 and 2018, he would struggle. But this is Michael Conforto, he just wouldn’t give up.
Starting in August, we saw the real Conforto again. Over his final 57 games of the season (with three still to go), he hit .266/.367/.441 with 10 doubles, seven homers, and 28 RBI. That’s in a year where he had every reason to never recover or put up any good numbers. As discussed above, he would have one final great moment at Citi Field in a Mets uniform.
Now, Conforto is heading into free agency. Between the Mets front office in flux, his agent being Scott Boras, and the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, no one knows what this means for Conforto and his time on the New York Mets. In many ways, it would be unfair to him and the fans to see it end like this.
Conforto has more in him, and he has a destiny to fulfill here. Conforto deserves a World Series, and he deserves it with the Mets. If he stays, it can and will happen. After all, as we’ve seen throughout his Mets career, he just doesn’t give up, and he will keep coming back and doing great things. The Mets need to just keep him around longer to let him do that in right field in Citi Field where he hit the two homers in Game Four.
The New York Mets obtained Javier Baez to be a difference maker as the team tries to hold on and win the division. In the 5-3 win against the Miami Marlins he was just that.
Gonna watch this Javy slide on repeat the rest of the night ✨ pic.twitter.com/fZeq8eFB6w
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 4, 2021
The Mets would eventually blow that 3-0 lead, but they’d get the lead back in the eighth when Baez hit the go-ahead homer in what would become a Mets 5-3 win:
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 5, 2021
In that game, Baez was much more Cespedes than Bruce. If that continues, the Mets will win this division. After that, if everyone gets heathy, who knows?
After a terrible start to the season, longtime Major Leaguer Jay Bruce has announced his retirement from baseball. In his 14 years, Bruce was a three time All-Star and a two time Silver Slugger. More than that, he was one of the most respected players in the game.
We saw that during Bruce’s time with the New York Mets. When Bruce first came to the Mets in a 2016 trade, he struggled mightily. Despite the struggles and adapting to New York as the team was desperately trying to fight their way to a Wild Card spot, Bruce would turn it on late in the season.
Over the final eight games of the season, Bruce was unstoppable hitting .480/.536/1.000. That stretch helped the Mets lock up the top Wild Card spot, and it lead to one of the funnier celebrations we have ever seen.
— First Time Long Time (@MetsFTLT) October 1, 2016
Bruce would return to the Mets in 2017, and he was great. His 121 OPS+ with the Mets that season would have been the third best offensive season of his career. The .841 OPS would have been his second best mark. Put another way, the Mets would get to see the best of Bruce, and it was truly a pleasure to watch.
It wasn’t just the offense or play on the field, it was the leadership. Bruce took young players under his wing and helped them. One player he really helped was Michael Conforto. He not only helped Conforto find his voice, but he helped him learn how to lead. The Mets are still reaping dividends from that to this day.
Unfortunately, the Mets didn’t win that 2016 Wild Card Game, and they fell apart in 2017. That would see many beloved players traded, and that eventually included Bruce. He’d go to Cleveland where he would have a good ALDS against the New York Yankees, but the Indians would lose that series.
Unfortunately, Bruce would never win that elusive World Series. He didn’t get it with the Mets in his first or second stint. He also didn’t get it with the Cincinnati Reds where he was part of a quite impressive young core of players. To this day, Bruce said the favorite moment of his career was his walk-off homer to clinch the Reds division title in 2010:
It’s unfortunate Bruce never did get an opportunity to play for a winner again after that 2016 season. He was a good player and better person you would have liked to see win at least one. He was a player who had a positive impact on many clubhouses and people. Each and every franchise was better for having him with their organization.
Right now, the playing chapter of Bruce’s career is over. It was a very good career, one with two top 10 MVP finishes. Based on how everyone has something positive to say about him and the impact he has had on many people, we should hopefully continue his career in baseball in some other capacity. The sport can use people like him staying in the game.
But for now, this is about Bruce the player. Congratulations to him on the end of his career and nothing but the best to him in the future.
Absurd, right? Well beyond absurd. No one in their right mind would ever do that. Right?
Sadly, it’s true. That’s what Gary Disarcina did. Sorry, Mets INFIELD COACH Gary Disarcina.
Disarcina spoke about how Guillorme has limited range and how he should learn first base to become a more versatile utility player. Yes, it was couched as a positive, but saying your second best defensive infielder has limited range is an unnecessary criticism.
Gold Glove play by Guillorme pic.twitter.com/tdazv3cwaa
— MetsFanMania (@MetsFanMania) March 14, 2021
Luis Guillorme can pitch and make great plays in the field. Versatility >>> pic.twitter.com/uzEQkSyYb2
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 11, 2020
Guillorme wasn’t the only player Disarcina critiqued. He also spoke about Davis’ defense. Now, given how he was critical of Guillorme, you could only imagine what he had to say about Davis.
As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Disarcina said, “he’s been ‘pleased’ with Davis’ work [at third] this spring.” He also spoke about analytics helping Davis and that Davis has “definitely improved.”
The article also spoke about wanting to make Davis work at third because they want to keep his bat in the lineup and Guillorme on the bench.
That’s right. The Mets are actively ignoring Guillorme continuing to prove himself as an everyday player to make something work that hasn’t. Remember, Davis has been among the worst defenders in Mets history.
Now, they have Disarcina saying Guillorme has poor range and needs to learn first to become more versatile while saying he’s pleased with Davis’ progress. Maybe we should consider the source.
Disarcina was the bench coach who couldn’t properly run QC leading to Jay Bruce batting out of order. He’s also been completely unable to help Mets infielders defensively.
Remember, Disarcina has been coaching Davis for two years now, and Davis has only regressed. Jeff McNeil was a good third baseman, and he struggled under Disarcina’s tutelage last year.
There’s also Amed Rosario. Rosario was an exceptionally gifted prospect who many thought could win a Gold Glove one day. Instead, while working with Disarcina, Rosario was actually the worst defensive shortstop in baseball and fourth worst defender overall.
This same coach is now going to say Guillorme has limited range while working on his versatility to be a better bench player? He’s going to say he’s finally getting through to Davis?
It’s an embarrassing series of statements devoid of any credibility. It really only highlights how poor of a coach Disarcina has been and just which direction the Mets want to go.
At this point, they’d rather try to go with someone who is among the worst fielders in Mets history over the better player who has earned the job. For some reason, the Mets and Disarcina thought they should prop up one player while taking subtle shots at the better player.
It’s ridiculous and hopefully dishonest.
When manager Luis Rojas was asked to name team leaders, Conforto was the first name he mentioned saying Conforto “stands out.”
When Dominic Smith grappled with decisions like kneeling or even playing this summer, Conforto told him he wish he knew Smith was going to kneel so he could be by him. He was then right by Smith’s side when he spoke out about racial injustice.
When it became clear Jake Marisnick and J.D. Davis were not only part of the Houston Astros sign stealing controversy, but also cheated against pitchers on this Mets team, Conforto said three important things: (1) Astros crossed the line; (2) it was going to be addressed; and (3) there was not going to be any animosity.
In the history of the Mets, there has been no more obvious choice for Captain since Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. This is a homegrown Met who is perfect to lead this team as they embark on a new era.
He’s also still a very good player who has had great moments. After he moved past his shoulder injury, he’s had a 135 OPS+. We know he’s capable of more too.
He’s an All-Star caliber player who can hit anywhere in the lineup, and he’s been a good defender. He’s also a team player willing to move to any position to help the team.
Conforto is the Captain in every possible way. Once the Mets give him the contract extension he’s earned, it’s time to formally announce him as the fifth Captain in team history.
There are times when teams make trades they appear bad in hindsight. The classic example of this was the Nolan Ryan trade. Ryan was an enigmatic right-hander the Mets just couldn’t quite figure out, and they were going to get a former All-Star in Jim Fregosi to handle third. At the time, it made sense, but as time passed it looked worse and worse.
Then there is the Robinson Cano trade.
This was a trade deemed flat out dumb at its inception. It wasn’t just that Cano had what many perceived to be an untradeable contract. That was partially because he was already in his mid 30s. Mostly, it was because he was coming off of a PED suspension which should have cast serious doubt over not only his career stats, but also his ability to produce as he aged. Of course, Brodie Van Wagenen was the one person who actually bought the bogus explanation.
Brodie says he's comfortable with Cano and the violation. Said it was a suspension for a diaretic not steroids.
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) December 4, 2018
Despite all the red flags and warnings, Van Wagenen went forward to rescue his former client from Seattle to return him to New York like Cano wanted. In the process, he made what ranks among the worst, if not the worst, trades in all of Mets history. Certainly, it is easily the worst Mets trade this century.
Each and every year which passes, this trade gets worse and worse. To put it in perspective, all we need to do is examine where the pieces of this trade are and will be in 2021:
Gerson Bautista – after dealing with injury issues has signed a minor league deal to return to the Seattle Mariners.
Jay Bruce – Free agent whose $14 million is off the books available for now the Philadelphia Phillies to invest this offseason.
Justin Dunn – projected to be part of the Mariners Opening Day rotation after posting a 104 ERA+ over the past two seasons. Notably, the Mets are looking to build not only a 2021 pitching rotation, but also pitching depth.
Jarred Kelenic – widely seen as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and he may very well make his MLB debut at some point during the 2021 season.
Anthony Swarzak – did not pitch last year after making $8.5 million in 2019.
Edwin Diaz – after a terrible 2019, he rebounded to have a strong 2020 season albeit one with four blown saves in 10 attempts. The question for him in 2021 is whether his good year, bad year pattern continues.
Really, Diaz is it for the Mets return because Cano is not going to play in 2021. There is now a question about whether he actually plays another game again. Certainly, you could argue the Mets would look to buy him out at some point or just flat out release him. Who knows?
The only thing we do know is Cano is out of baseball in 2021. Perhaps, that is a large reason why Van Wagenen and the person who hired him, Jeff Wilpon, will also be out of baseball. In fact, this trio may very well be and probably should be out for good. That will give them all a front row seat to seeing Kelenic and Dunn lead the Mariners organization back to postseason contention.
According to reports, Steve Cohen is bringing Sandy Anderson back to the Mets as an advisor, and he is planning on finding a replacement for Brodie Van Wagenen. Both are excellent and needed decisions.
When it comes to Van Wagenen, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much damage he has done to the well built and talented Mets organization gift wrapped to him from Alderson. Essentially, all that Alderson built needs to be rebuilt.
Van Wagenen was given a starting staff comprised of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz. Behind them were well regarded prospects in Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson.
The Mets rotation over the final week of the 2020 season will be deGrom, Rick Porcello, maybe Matz, and who knows what else?
The position player core was remarkably cheap and talented. There was Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and Amed Rosario. Behind them was Andres Gimenez and Jarred Kelenic.
Sure, there were some bad contracts, but they were short term in nature, and they were not going to serve as an impediment to either building on or retaining this core.
For example, the Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes contacts were set to expire after this season. That coincided perfectly with having to have the money to re-sign deGrom and to have extension talks with Conforto, Matz, and Syndergaard.
Instead, the Mets no longer have Kelenic giving them a buffet against losing one of Conforto or Nimmo. They also have Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract on the books which already served as an impediment to re-signing Wheeler.
That’s nothing to say of the quality prospect purge in the same of finding a late inning defensive replacement in center for a team who already had Juan Lagares and adding J.D. Davis to a team already overstocked in 1B/DH players.
Couple this with the Mets getting rid of Wilmer Flores for nothing only for him to be more productive than anyone Van Wagenen brought into the organization and signing Jed Lowrie for $20 million to get eight pinch hitting attempts, and the Van Wagenen stint as GM has been an unmitigated disaster.
If you want to point to Van Wagenen’s drafts as a positive, you should. However, in doing that, remember, that was a scouting group built by Alderson and Omar Minaya. The Mets will be keeping both advisors.
When you take everything into account, Alderson built the Mets to be a competitive team in 2019 and 2020. With any luck, he had a deep farm system to make the types of trades he made in 2015 to help get the team over the top.
The real window for this Mets team was supposed to open in 2021. Given the talent on the Major League roster and in the farm system, it promised to be a 1980s like run.
Instead, Alderson is back to figure out how yo fix this mess. Fortunately for him, he won’t have Van Wagenen or Jeff Wilpon standing in his way. Instead, he will have an owner with deep pockets who intends to let smart baseball people like Alderson do their jobs.
For all his bravado, Brodie Van Wagenen has not only stripped the farm system down, but he did it while impinging the Major League roster’s ability to compete for a World Series. To put it in perspective, let’s just look at what the Mets roster would look like right now if Van Wagenen only kept the Mets players in the organization had he not taken the job, or, if he did nothing.
Some caveats here. This assumes free agents were re-signed. Without the Robinson Cano deal, that would’ve been possible. Also, it assumes the same players who are injured for the season would remain injured. Finally, this will eliminate those players not on active 28 man rosters. With that in mind, here’s what the 2020 Mets would’ve looked like.
2B Jeff McNeil
3B Todd Frazier
SS Amed Rosario
CF Juan Lagares
DH Pete Alonso
INF Wilmer Flores
1B/OF Jay Bruce
INF Luis Guillorme
RHP Jacob deGrom
RHP Zack Wheeler
LHP Steven Matz
LHP Anthony Kay
LHP David Peterson
RHP Seth Lugo
RHP Rafael Montero
RHP Justin Dunn
RHP Robert Gsellman
RHP Drew Smith
LHP Blake Taylor
RHP Bobby Wahl
LHP Daniel Zamora
RHP Paul Sewald
RHP Franklyn Kilome
Looking at the team overall, the starting pitching is vastly superior as is the team defense. The bullpen may not be as deep, but they certainly have the arms.
Overall, this non-Van Wagenen impacted roster would’ve certainly been better than the 9-14 team his Mets roster is. This just goes to show you how bad of a GM Van Wagenen is.
He’s made the Mets worse in 2020, and he’s made the Mets future less promising. You could not have done a worse job than Van Wagenen has done.