If not for the need to call him up last season, David Peterson would arguably be the Mets top prospect heading into the season. To a certain extent, you’d expect the Mets to handle him like a top prospect.
After all, for the success he had, there were some real reasons for concern. His walks and FIP were too high. His slider was his only consistent weapon. He succeed was very BABIP dependent, and he didn’t go deep into games.
Still, partially the result of the injuries to Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco, Peterson was in the Opening Day rotation. With that should come with the responsibility of treating him like a prospect and protecting his arm and development.
The Mets failed him and their team miserably on the front today.
There are many studies out there on what causes pitcher injury. As detailed by Keith Woolner of Baseball Prospectus, fatigue is one of the biggest causes. Sameer Mehta of Science Direct surmised many pitcher injuries happen early in the season due to pitcher usage and their ramping it up too early.
In 2018, we would see Jacob deGrom lifted after a 45 pitch first inning. The rationale is 40 pitches is just too much of a workload and puts you at risk for injury.
In the first inning of the Mets loss to the Phillies, Peterson threw 38 pitches in an inning where he allowed four runs.
Despite that heavy workload, one which one day would’ve gotten deGrom pulled, Peterson went back out there. He went back out there.
He went back out there despite Joey Lucchesi warming up and the Mets not needing a fifth starter for at least another turn through the rotation.
Really, there was no reason for him to pitch. And yet, they put him back out there. Sure, the results improved, but what did it accomplish?
The Mets pushed him when there was zero reason to do it. The bullpen was mostly fresh, and they had another starter ready to go. It was a complete failure by the team.
The failing of Peterson also went to the offense. The team was 1-for-12 with RISP leaving 14 on base. Michael Conforto was the biggest culprit going 0-for-5 leaving NINE men on base.
Overall, this 8-2 loss was just one of those losses you just want to forget. Put it out of your mind, hope there are no long standing ramifications, and go home for the opener.
Game Notes: Jonathan Villar made the start for Jeff McNeil and was a homer short of the cycle. Dellin Betances made his season debut. He topped out at 93, which he hit just once, and his last fastball dipped under 90.
In case you were wondering just how much the Wilpons have scarred New York Mets fans, we see the reactions to the Francisco Lindor contract discussions. Seeing it, you’d think the Wilpons were again outbid for a borderline MLB reliever.
It should be noted the Mets have offered Lindor a 10 year/$325 million contract. That’s an AAV of $32.5 million which would pay Lindor until he’s 37 years old.
It would make it the largest contract in Mets history given to David Wright by more than double. It would fall only short of Mookie Betts and Mike Trout for the largest extensions in MLB history. It’s on par with the extension given to Fernando Tatis, Jr., and it would put him only behind Bryce Harper in the division.
Yes, Lindor has every right to negotiate for every last penny, and he’s in his right to reject that offer. After a big year, he could get a better offer, and perhaps he won’t. That said, you have to respect him betting on himself.
That’s what this is. It’s a mixture of Lindor thinking he’s worth more and betting on himself. You can say that because the Mets made an extremely fair and reasonable offer.
It’s part of a completely different offseason for the Mets where they added a lot of payroll. Seriously, you wouldn’t see the Wilpons make these moves in one offseason let alone two or three:
- Francisco Lindor $22.3 million
- Marcus Stroman $18.9 million
- Carlos Carrasco $12 million
- Taijuan Walker $10 million
- James McCann $8.15 million
- Trevor May $7.75 million
- Kevin Pillar $3.6 million
- Jonathan Villar $3.55 million
- Aaron Loup $3 million
- Albert Almora $1.25 million
- Jose Martinez $1.0 million
- Joey Lucchesi ~ $600k
Adding those salaries up, the Mets added $92.1 million. Read that again. The Mets added $92.1 million to the 2021 payroll.
What exactly about that is the same old Mets? If it’s missing out on Trevor Bauer, George Springer, or not extending Lindor yet, it’s over focusing on the negative. Likely, it’s schtick, scarring from the Wilpon era, or just a want to be miserable.
Whatever happens with Lindor will happen. We can judge that on Opening Day as well as the 2021 season and beyond. Whatever the case, this is a very different Mets organization than we’ve seen from the Wilpons, and it should be viewed and treated as such.
Simply put, third base was the biggest hole the New York Mets had this offseason, and they did nothing to address it. Now, they’re scrambling.
The incumbent, J.D. Davis, is the worst defensive player in baseball. Not hyperbole, his DRS is literally the worst since joining the Mets.
With the Mets not improving, they’re starting to sell he’s improved there. They even point to Francisco Lindor working with him. There are two problems to this.
First, it’s useless talking point we hear every Spring akin to “best shape of their life.” Second, Davis is still quite bad in the videos promoting his defense.
— David Lennon (@DPLennon) February 28, 2021
Really, he can’t play the position, and the Mets need to stop trying to make it work. The problem is if not Davis, then who?
Yes, the answer is literally anyone else on the team would be better, but that’s also not a good answer. One early talking point is the idea of a Davis platoon with the left-handed hitting Jonathan Villar.
Villar, too, is a bad defender. Over the last two years, he has a -12 DRS in the middle of the infield. The counter-argument is third may be an easier position to play and a better fit for him.
However, that point ignores the disaster Jose Reyes was at third. Players in defensive decline just don’t automatically stem the tide and thrive at third. That’s an important consideration for a player in Villar who hasn’t played there since 2016. In that year, he played 346.2 innings there and had a -5 DRS.
So, looking at it, we return to Jeff McNeil, a player who has actually been the Opening Day starter there the last two seasons. He also has a career 5 DRS and 3 OAA there in his career.
Yes, he had a tough stretch there last year, and he had a tough Spring Training game. Even with that, he’s still been FAR SUPERIOR than the players who are under consideration for third. If you couple that with the ability to put Luis Guillorme and his Gold Glove caliber defense at second, it’s hard to argue there’s a better option.
The only problem is the Mets seem to be reluctant to both put McNeil at third and to play Guillorme everyday. It’s a bizarre thought process with zero sound reasoning given the construction of this roster.
Whatever the case, this is how the Mets built their team. It’s imperative they put their best players on the field in the best position to succeed and help the pitching staff who induces a lot of grounders.
Short of the Mets making that trade for a third baseman, they’re stuck trying to figure out a dilemma they failed to address this offseason. Rather than push sunk costs, lost cases, and poor thought processes, they need to do what helps them win in 2021.
In his first Spring Training start at third base, Jeff McNeil struggled. He had three errors – a missed catch, a missed grounder, and a bad throw.
The complete overreaction to this should be a really big yawn.
If true, it’s a bad plan. Davis is the worst third baseman in the game. Villar is a poor defender who last played third in 2016. Looking at it, McNeil is the Mets best defensive third baseman with a 5 DRS.
McNeil at third would also open up more playing time for Luis Guillorme. If nothing else, Guillorme is a very good defender. He’s also been making significant strides offensively.
Beautiful play from Guillorme to end the 2nd! ? pic.twitter.com/9Cx6tjSQ7e
— SNY (@SNYtv) March 7, 2021
Guillorme should ideally start at second where he is Gold Glove caliber. That would move McNeil to third. Notably, Luis Rojas said McNeil has “looked well at third base in the past.” He will again if given the opportunity.
Overall, Guillorme at second with McNeil at third remains the Mets best possible infield. As such, the team should not overreact to one poor day.
The Mets need to be better than that. They need to roll their eyes and do what’s right for the team. Whatever they decide, they need to move forward with their best team and lineup.
Brach grew up a Mets fan. In fact, he loved the Mets so much he went to Game 3 of the World Series as a fan despite being a member of the Baltimore Orioles at the time. Brach would say seeing David Wright homering in that game was one of his favorite moments.
"When David Wright hit that home run…it was probably one of the best baseball moments I've had"
Brad Brach is a huge Mets fan and was at Game 3 of the 2015 World Series pic.twitter.com/utq57MBFfS
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 9, 2019
Speaking of Wright, he was also a huge Mets fan growing up. Like Brach, he’s also not a part of the organization. While Wright was a part of the front office with the Wilpons, he’s not right now as his contract with the team expired.
As if that’s not bad enough, it appears his number 5 was given to Albert Almora. You’d have to assume this was a mistake, and yet, there it is. Not only is his role gone but apparently so is his number. On the former, the door could be open for Wright to have a role with the team in 2021.
The same can not be said for Wright’s former teammate Steven Matz. The Long Island native grew up a Mets fan. What was once a fairy tale with his grandfather literally jumping for joy ended with him being traded for the Toronto Blue Jays.
It could be worse. Rick Porcello grew up a Mets fan, and when he hit free agency for the first time, he actually took less money to fulfill his childhood dream to pitch for the Mets. What ensued was a career worst season.
Now, he’s a free agent, and at the moment, it seems like no one has any interest in him. That puts him in the same situation as Brach.
Two lifelong Mets fans who dreamed of pitching for the Mets only for it to all go wrong. Now, they’re looking for a new place to play because the place they wanted to play more than anywhere doesn’t want them.
All told, that just sums up just how bad of an offseason for a player to be a Mets fan. If you grew up a Mets fan, there just doesn’t seem to be a spot for you with the Mets in 2021 or beyond.
With the slow crawl of the free agent market, there were still a number of quality depth players available in free agency. Instead, the New York Mets opted to sign Jonathan Villar.
Villar, 29, has been an everyday player for most of his career. The last time he served in a utility role was with the 2017 Milwaukee Brewers. In that season, Villar hit .241/.293/.372. That 2017 season also happens to be the worst year of his career. By and large looking at that and his career as a whole, there really isn’t evidence Villar is well equipped to be a utility player.
That said, this is still a Mets team without a third baseman, and they don’t have a clear path at the moment to get one. Given the situation, it doesn’t hurt to add a player like Villar who has shown he can handle playing everyday, and he has shown the ability to play at different positions. However, that is only part of the equation.
When you look at Villar’s career, especially of late, you’d be hard pressed to find a reason why this is a good signing.
Since 2017, Villar is hitting .258/.320/.397 with a 91 wRC+. His being below average offensively is all the more alarming when you consider much of that was buttressed by a 2019 season where he hit .274/.339/.453 with a 109 wRC+. That 2019 season was mostly driven by a juiced ball and a .341 BABIP.
Looking at Baseball Savant, there is little hope for Villar to prove to be a good hitter. He has always had low hard hit rates, barrels, and launch angles. Yes, the noted exception was 2019 which had a juiced ball. If we are to believe baseball, they are going to go in the complete opposite direction and deaden that ball thereby removing all hope for Villar to repeat that season.
Suffice it to say, Villar is not a good hitter. Conversely, Villar has proven to be a very good pinch hitter with a .315/.327/.500 batting line in 55 appearances. While promising, that is a very small sample size.
Now, utility players need not be perfect. After all, if they were, they would be everyday players and not utility players. There is nothing wrong with having a utility player who doesn’t hit all that well but is a good fielder. Unfortunately, Villar is not a good fielder.
Since 2017, Villar is a -2 DRS at second base, -5 DRS at short, and a -3 DRS in the outfield. He hasn’t played third since 2016, and he has been a -7 DRS there in 429.0 innings. Really, there isn’t any place in the infield you feel comfortable sticking him and providing you good defense. All told, Villar is a classic case of just because you’ve played a number of positions, it doesn’t really mean you should play any of them. And if you can’t play positions well, you’re not really versatile.
Really, if you look at Villar the only thing he can provide is really good base running. He is a very good base runner who can steal bases even if he has declining speed. While he’s exceptional at that, it is not something which helps the Mets all that much. Most of the Mets everyday lineup has speed and are not going to be removed normally for a pinch runner. Really, teams don’t utilize pinch runners all that much until rosters expand late in the season, which they don’t really expand all that much anymore.
When you look at Villar, this is player who doesn’t hit and can’t field. He doesn’t solve the Mets third base need, and his presence promises to take away reps from Luis Guillorme who is a superior player. There were also far more superior options available and better fits for this Mets roster like Jedd Gyorko and Todd Frazier.
Really, the Mets could have and should have done better than Villar. In the end, we can only hope the Mets knew something we don’t about him because based on all that we see this isn’t a move which really helps improve the Mets roster.