For those New York Mets fans who watched Rafael Montero, we wouldn’t have been shocked if he was a part of Major League history. Certainly, we could have bought him doing what Lance McCullers did in allowing a record five homers in a World Series start.
Actually, that’s not true at all. By 2017, there was not one Mets fan alive who believed Montero would still be in the Major Leauges at this point. Really, most Mets fans had believed Montero would not only never come close to living up to his prospect status, but they also believed his career was essentially over.
As was par for the course, much of that had to do with the Mets organization. More specifically, there was Jeff Wilpon’s meddling in medical matters, and there was Terry Collins eternal mishandling of pitchers. As we can recall, Montero had complained of shoulder and elbow issues with the Mets claiming he was making it up, and Collins traveling to essentially tell him to “man up.”
Well, eventually, we would see Montero’s Mets career end when he had to undergo Tommy John surgery. After all the disappointment, he was finally free to pursue his career elsewhere. While he had one promising year with the Seattle Mariners, he returned to the enigmatic pitcher he always was. It would not be until he was traded to the Houston Astros that his career would finally take off (pun intended).
Back in April, when the Mets had their combined no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies, it was a shock the Mets used Joely Rodriguez. As shocked as we were to see Rodriguez, it was far more surprising to see the Astros use Montero in the eighth inning to try to keep the combined no-hitter intact.
Rafael Montero, 96mph ⛽️
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) November 3, 2022
However, it wasn’t really a surprise for Astros fans. Montero has been phenomenal all season for them. He was one of the best relievers in all of baseball. Over 71 appearances, he was 5-2 with 14 saves, a 2.37 ERA, 1.024 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 9.2 K/9. He also had a 163 ERA+ and 2.64 FIP. In reality, he was better than any Mets reliever not named Edwin Diaz.
In this postseason, Montero has been great. Over nine appearances, he has a 1.00 ERA and a 0.889 WHIP. While it is coming as a reliever, you see what the Mets saw in him when they thought he was better than Jacob deGrom. The skill and execution is finally there. As a result, he has been great, and now, he is forever a part of Major League history.
Cristian Javier, Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, and Ryan Pressly celebrate the combined no-hitter 🙌 pic.twitter.com/4XHaVl1Sx9
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) November 3, 2022
Now, the old excuse of he wouldn’t have done it here has been far too overused with the Mets. With Justin Turner, his career starting blossoming at the end of his Mets tenure. For Travis d’Arnaud, he actually was great with the Mets in 2015. Both and more could have done it with the Mets.
For Montero, the excuse might actually be applicable. As an organization, the Mets continuously stood in his way. The questioned whether he was really injured. They challenged him when he should have been healing or resting. Because of this Wilponian mixture of arrogance and ignorance, Montero would not be able to be the pitcher he could be until 2022.
That’s a sad fact for Montero. That said, he is a lesson in perseverance. Because he never quit, he finally found the right situation, and now, he will forever be a part of Major League history while Jeff Wilpon is history in baseball.
The 2022 World Series will be quite telling for New York Mets fans. This World Series will truly confirm once and for all the baseball gods hate us, and that Mets fans cannot have nice things.
After all, how else are we going to explain what is happening in the world of baseball.
Really, since Citi Field was opened there has been little more than torture for Mets fans. There was the Madoff Scandal and all the austerity measures. When the Mets finally got good in 2015, we effectively lost David Wright forever, and it was the beginning of the end for Matt Harvey, who would have a troubled injury plagued career mirroring his troubled life.
The Mets made a big run to get back into the 2016 postseason only to lose in the Wild Card Game. From there, nearly every single one of the Mets beloved starters would go down with injury. That included Noah Syndergaard, who went down twice with major injuries.
After some down years, which included the rise of Jacob deGrom as the best pitcher in baseball, we got Brodie Van Wagenen mortgaging the farm while simultaneously not going all-in to win. Van Wagenen was the guy who sought to redefine the role of a GM, and instead, he wound up merely redefining how to be a terrible GM.
After those horror years, we finally got Steve Cohen. The results have been disappointing. That’s not to blame Cohen or this front office who has done everything they could do to win.
We saw deGrom go from the best pitcher in baseball to unable to stay on the field for more than a few months at a time. Now, he is opting out of his contract. Javier Baez came, and the Mets fell apart last season leading to him being gone. There was yet another collapse this season.
To make matters worse, the Atlanta Braves won the World Series last season. They ran past the Mets and didn’t look past last year. This year, they chased down the Mets all year, and they finally caught them on the final weekend of the season.
Of course, it needs to be noted Travis d’Arnaud has been a leader for the Braves. They also got great relief work from Colin McHugh. This is what just seems to happen to the Mets. We can rattle off names like Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy. The Mets don’t understand what they have in players, they let them go, and then, they act amazed when good players thrive when given an opportunity to thrive.
That brings us to Zack Wheeler leading the Philadelphia Phillies to a pennant. Wheeler was an ace level pitcher on the Mets. He was that for the Phillies. Notably, this Phillies team also has Syndergaard.
There is absolutely zero reason to expect the Phillies to win. Then again, we should not have expected Howie Kendrick to become Reggie Jackson and for Stephen Strasburg to become Bob Gibson in 1999. We should not have expected the Braves bullpen to look like Jeff Nelson–Mike Stanton–Mariano Rivera last year.
The Houston Astros are one of the greatest teams we’ve ever seen. They haven’t lost a game this postseason, an unmatched feat in the Wild Card Era. They have Justin Verlander, and they have a manager in Dusty Baker who just needs that one World Series to ensure his rightful place in Cooperstown. Everything should point to them winning the World Series with ease.
And yet, there is the Mets factor. Make no mistake, if the Phillies win here, it is nothing more than the baseball gods taunting us Mets fans. It is what they did in 2019 and 2021, the last two World Series with a full season. For that matter, no Mets fan wanted to see the Los Angeles Dodgers win in 2020.
The Astros should win this series, and it should be a short series. As a Mets fan, we somehow know better.
It may be a bit unfair to Edwin Diaz, but back in 2019, the pressure could not have been higher. Keep in mind, he plays a position that is among the most pressure filled in all of pro sports.
There were high expectations based upon what he did with the Seattle Mariners. In some ways, it was on his shoulders to try to justify the dumb and ill-received trade to acquire him and Robinson Cano.
As we all know, Diaz faltered. It was easily the worst season of his career. The common refrain from that season from fans was Diaz could not handle New York. The corollary to this was never would’ve been able to do it here.
It’s been a crutch for New York fans. The common explanation as to why players thrive elsewhere is they can’t handle New York. It’s a convenient catch-all, which helps overlook the real reason why players failed.
Jason Bay wasn’t an outfielder dealing with absurd outfield walls and concussions. No, he couldn’t handle New York.
Travis d’Arnaud wasn’t an injury prone catcher at a time Jeff Wilpon was meddling with medical decisions. No, he just couldn’t handle New York (also apparently, 2015 never happened).
There are countless examples through Mets history. All of those examples and the narrative is being proven absurd this season.
The funny thing is Diaz admitted he struggled with New York. In many ways, he was the epitome of can’t handle New York. In reality, he needs to adjust.
Diaz is not unique in this respect. Players struggle coming to new teams sometimes. For some reason, that does seem to apply to the Mets more than others.
For that matter, Curtis Granderson struggled when he first came to the Mets. Keep on mind, Granderson played the previous four seasons with the New York Yankees.
That brings us back to Diaz. Yes, he struggled with New York. However, he mostly struggled with his mechanics. Back in 2019, the Mets just couldn’t get that right.
It’s at the point where Mets fans love him and await his entrance into games. Narco and the trumpets are a major feature at Mets games. It’s now at the point where the Mets have invited Timmy Trumpet to games.
That’s not bad for someone who can’t do it in New York. It’s almost as if that narrative was always a poor excuse, and Diaz proved it was nonsense all along.
The already depleted New York Mets roster faced an even tougher challenge as Francisco Lindor slammed the door shut on his finger knocking him out of the opener of the series between the Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers. To a certain extent, their being shut out for the first time all season wasn’t a shock.
Tony Gonsolin has been great all year, and he was again in this game pitching six shutout innings. Of course, his job was made easier with Lindor out of the lineup and with Brandon Nimmo dealing with a wrist injury. Digging deeper, Eduardo Escobar is ice cold, and the Mets were stuck putting J.D. Davis at DH, who is ill suited to play a team like the Dodgers.
So yes, the Mets were shut out. Luis Guillorme and Jeff McNeil collected two of the Mets three hits with Davis lucking into a mistake from Gonsolin around two strikeouts. Pete Alonso had a golden sombrero which was part of Mets batters striking out nine times.
Looking at that, you would think this was a lost game. That could not be further from the truth. In fact, the Mets showed something as they were in this game throughout despite being dominated by Dodgers pitching.
Taijuan Walker was fantastic limiting the Dodgers to two runs on seven hits and one walk over 5.2 innings. Remember, Walker is a pitcher who would move to the Mets bullpen in a potential postseason match-up between these teams. As of right now, the Mets fifth starter shut down the Dodgers vaunted offense.
Walker was helped by good Mets defense. That included a heads up play by McNeil to run Mookie Betts towards first as he got Freddie Freeman out at first. Alonso threw to Guillorme to get Betts heading to second, and Guillorme had his head on a swivel throwing home to try to catch Gavin Lux.
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) June 3, 2022
Guillorme did not make the best throw home, but Patrick Mazeika stopped it. It took longer than needed, but he made a strong throw to Escobar who made a terrific tag. That helped keep that rally to just one run.
The Dodgers scored another in the sixth off a two out double from old friend and now nemesis Justin Turner. Buck Showalter went to Colin Holderman who showed some moxy getting out of the jam. He would then throw another scoreless inning to boot.
For the final inning, the struggling Chasen Shreve threw a scoreless inning. With that, the Mets fifth starter and the Mets “lesser” relievers limited the highest scoring team in the majors to just two runs. Again, without using any of their best pitchers, the Mets limited the high powered Dodgers offense, with all of their best hitters in the lineup, to just two runs.
If you are someone who wants to view this series as a litmus test, the Mets came out of this game looking great. They have the arms to shut down the Dodgers. They’re going to get healthy, and they will hit anyone. Yes, it sucks getting shut out, but in the end, there was far more good than bad in this loss.
The New York Mets had won seven straight series before a key divisional match-up against the Atlanta Braves. They would not make it an eighth straight series.
1. Last season, the Mets failed on multiple occasions to deliver a knockout blow to the Braves leading to the Braves buying at the deadline, winning the division, and eventually, winning the World Series. This was the Mets first chance to deliver a huge blow to the under .500 Braves, and instead, they let the Braves walk away with a split.
2. You can’t use Adam Ottavino for three straight games. That’s just an unforced error that helped lead to the Mets getting blown out.
3. Buck Showalter came into this season with a number of questions. Seeing how he burns Drew Smith for two innings instead of saving him for another day and used an injured Trevor May in a key spot, it would seem like he hasn’t improved in the slightest in this area.
5. If Bassitt wants to sign an extension, the Mets should sign him to one. This is a good pitcher who seems to like pitching here. You keep those guys.
6. The walks are starting to pile up with Megill. If he isn’t pounding the strike zone, he becomes vulnerable to the big inning. That is essentially what happened to him. Right now, this isn’t any cause for alarm.
7. All the metrics say Francisco Lindor is hitting the ball very well, but the results aren’t there. Put another way, it’s too soon to overreact, but it is something we need to monitor.
9. Eduardo Escobar went from pleasant surprise and leader to looking like the player the Mets shouldn’t have jumped the market to sign. His hard hit rates are cratering as is his defense.
10. Starting J.D. Davis over Dominic Smith, especially with a right-handed pitcher starting is just plain wrong. With extended playing time, Davis’ struggles with any sort of velocity and with pitches up in the zone are magnified.
11. For all the focus on the struggles of the bullpen, Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, and Smith have the final 2-3 innings locked down. Looking at that, building the rest of the bullpen is a much easier task until May returns from the IL.
12. It’s very interesting how May and Jacob deGrom were dealing with very similar injuries. What that says about the Mets is anyone’s guess.
13. The umpiring in this series was embarrassing. It helped cost one game with Dansby Swanson being ruled to have a double on a clear foul ball. Dom was called out on a pitch well out of the zone. Between this series and the Madison Bumgarner ejection in Arizona, the umpiring has been unacceptably poor this season. Really, you know it’s bad when Max Scherzer gets thrown out of a game when he’s not pitching.
14. The notion anything other than balls and strikes is not reviewable is ludicrous.
16. Players like Travis Jankowski and Guillorme deserve more respect. They fill their roles in perfectly and make this ball club infinitely better. Jankowski knows people won’t buy his jersey, but we will all cheer him on like he’s a superstar.
17. Carlos Carrasco has been amazing this season, and his eight innings not only helped the Mets pick up a win, but it also saved the bullpen.
18. Trevor Williams wasn’t great, but he took one for the team pitching 3.2 innings. Outings like this often get overlooked and under appreciated, but it is something which will really help the Mets in the long run. With May out, you do wonder if the Mets can give him more of a look out of the pen. After all, it’s not like they have other options.
19. The Showalter suspension was ridiculous, especially when you consider Stubby Clapp wasn’t suspended. You do wonder how much that impacted the Mets in the opener of the series, especially with Showalter being informed right before game time.
20. Alonso is heating up just when the Mets need his bat to carry this team. Hopefully, he can help carry the offense as they try to give the Philadelphia Phillies the knock out blow they failed to give the Braves.
There were rumors Dominic Smith wasn’t going to be happy with a bench or part-time role with the New York Mets, and he wanted one elsewhere. As is typically the case, that came around the time he was almost traded. Well, Smith, himself, put those rumors to rest:
🎥 Following a weekend of pretty serious trade rumors, Dominic Smith acknowledges that while he'd love a chance to play full-time somewhere, he's happy to be in New York and happy to be a Met. pic.twitter.com/tDEJHvJjsh
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 4, 2022
Smith has long made the case he should play everyday. We are seeing it again this spring. His shoulder is healthy, and Max Scherzer noted Smith is hitting balls he hasn’t hit before in his career out for homers. Once again, Smith is poised to have a big season.
More than that, Smith is someone who wants to be a Met. In years past, that is not something which the Mets have actually valued. It is an odd thing to see loyalty and allegiance not valued or honored, but that was the way the Mets were operated under the Wilpons.
That’s not to say those values should be treated in higher regard than performance. However, the Mets have taken poor stock of a player’s drive to succeed not just in baseball but with the Mets. They overlooked skills and conditions which served as detriments to performance. Instead, of removing those obstacles, they just removed the player and later lamented why that player is thriving elsewhere.
It is something we have seen time and again. Justin Turner and his new launch angle approach became an All-Star, NLCS MVP, and World Series champion with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wilmer Flores has been a coveted and very successful role player. The list goes on and on.
That list includes Zack Wheeler. When he and Flores were almost traded for Carlos Gomez, Wheeler went to the Mets and said he wanted to stay. He backed that up by getting healthy and improving each season. In his last season with the Mets, it was apparent he was emerging as an ace.
Wheeler went to the Philadelphia Phillies, and he arguably should have won the Cy Young award in 2021. He was that good, and he will continue to be that good as the Mets continue to try to address pitching depth in their organization. To be fair here, things are much improved under Steve Cohen.
When the Mets have a player who is on the verge of a breakout, and that player wants to be a Met, the Mets need to find a way to get that player to succeed here. Like Wheeler, Smith has. Now, the Mets need to make sure they allow him to succeed in 2022 and beyond. It is the right thing to do for someone who is going to be a very good and impactful player, and it is the right thing to do for someone committed to this franchise.
The New York Mets offense has been dreadful lately. With that being the case, you can never quite tell if it’s the offense or the opposing pitcher.
Because the Los Angeles Dodgers started Walker Buehler it’s easy to concede it was the starting pitcher. After all, Buehler is arguably the current NL Cy Young favorite. Despite that, the Mets almost got him.
That would be the last time a Dodger reached base. Carlos Carrasco settled in, and he would have his finest start since coming off the IL. It was the first time he went five innings, he struck out a season high six, and he seemingly started figuring stuff out.
After Carrasco, the Mets bullpen did their job putting up zeros. That kept the Mets in the game, and a Pete Alonso fourth inning solo shot had the Mets trailing 3-1 entering the eighth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 21, 2021
That eighth inning set umpiring back decades, and you could actually argue putting players on the honor system would be better.
That McNeil at-bat is where home plate umpire Nestor Ceja which would’ve left Eric Gregg scratching his head. McNeil appeared to work out a walk loading the bases. That was until Ceja called a pitch a foot off the plate a strike.
Yeah…about that… pic.twitter.com/rzyA5f6Wis
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 21, 2021
That bogus strikeout was the difference between bases loaded one out and two on with two outs. It would make a huge difference.
It was Alonso driving in another run with an infield single pulling the Mets within 3-2. Problem is it shouldn’t have been a single.
Good catch from SNY broadcast: Alonso's infield single appeared to hit his foot in the box, which would have rendered it foul: pic.twitter.com/Ie99PAaL2m
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) August 21, 2021
Alonso who has a ton of hard hit outs lately got some assistance from his cleat. On the subject of Ceja, he had called a foul off Jonathan Villar‘s foot when the ball easily cleared his foot.
Davis would strike out. It was the fifth time Davis struck out with the bases loaded, and he has yet to get a hit in that situation. It’ll be interesting to see how he blames that on Alonso.
After Kenley Jansen made quick work of the Mets in the ninth, the Mets fell to two games under .500 and six games behind the Braves. There are just no words for that right now.
It’s really unfair to say the New York Mets season hinged on one game. After all, there’s still 45 games remaining, and we’ve seen crazier stuff happen.
That said, the Mets showed us nothing in this pivotal game against not just the Los Angeles Dodgers, but also former division foe Max Scherzer. Absolutely nothing.
Being honest, if Jacob deGrom is done for the year, and he very well might, the Mets are going nowhere without Carrasco. Carrasco hasn’t seemed ready since returning from injury. He’s yet to hit five innings, and this is his second straight start under three innings.
For the first of many times in the game, the Mets had a chance to get back into the game. That’s when Luis Rojas made what could be a fireable decision.
With the Mets down six in this game, about to be swept, and with the Phillies and Braves having won, Rojas sent Carrasco to the plate with two on and one out.
What makes this decision all the worse was he was lifting Carrasco anyway. Rojas would explain he had a short bench and didn’t want to go through it.
To that, it should be noted Brandon Drury pinch hit in the eighth and stayed on to pitch the ninth. As bad as that may seem, when Drury wasn’t getting out of the inning, Kevin Pillar came off the bench to relieve him.
That’s right. For the first time in Mets history one position player relieved another on the mound.
That’s basically how to get to down six with a chance to pull closer in the second to a 14-4 loss. What makes it even worse is how the Dodgers just begged the Mets to get back into the game.
While the Dodgers had just one error, they had gaffes all over the field. Dodgers relievers walked three and the ERAs of the relievers they used were 8.22, 6.64, and 9.53.
In the end, the Mets were 0-for-12 with RISP stranding 10 base runners. Really, this isn’t new. That’s the story of the 2021 Mets offense.
This is a team who showed their competing the first two days was more fluke than talent. They can’t get the big hit. They’re inability to take advantage of chances. They get blown out on national television after the Braves and Phillies have won.
They’re now heading out to California to play against the San Francisco Giants and Dodgers. Compounding the level of competition was the Mets being a horrendous road team.
Maybe they’ll shock us over the next week and final month of the season. That would be great. However, if we’re being honest, without magic, the Mets appear like they’re done and won’t be winning the division.
One moment, you’re a player whose career is on the verge of ending before it really began. The next, you find yourself in the right situation, and you’re fulfilling your full potential.
Enter Billy McKinney.
McKinney was the Oakland Athletics 2013 first round pick. While a prospect, he was involved in two high profile trade deadline moves. First, he was sent to the Chicago Cubs as part of the Jeff Samardzija trade. Then, he was part of the Aroldis Chapman trade.
Some of the shine came off McKinney’s prospects, and he dealt with a shoulder injury. With his being buried deep on the Yankees organizational outfield depth chart, he was included in the J.A. Happ trade.
McKinney struggles with the Blue Jays, and he was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays late last season. McKinney was claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers. He lasted all of 40 games before the underperforming outfielder was designated for assignment.
Make no mistake. This wasn’t necessarily the case of the Mets seeing something. Rather, with Michael Conforto down and Mets outfielders dropping like flies, the Mets had no other option than to obtain McKinney.
McKinney has been far better than the Mets ever could’ve imagined. Over 12 games, McKinney is hitting .275/.341/.700 with three doubles, a triple, four homers, and 11 RBI.
No, he’s not this good. No one is. However, we do see some positives from his Baseball Savant data. While he’s making a good amount of contact with increased exit velocities, it’s far too soon to adjudge if he can be the player many thought he could be when he was a top 100 prospect.
Right now, the only thing we can be assured of is he can field. Through it all, McKinney has shown himself to be quite a good fielder. If he can hit, his career is about to take off.
Fortunately for McKinney, he’s going to get the time to prove himself. Both Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are on the IL and aren’t returning soon. That allows McKinney to play everyday and to finally establish himself as a Major Leaguer.
On that note, it’s important to note he’s 26 and on the verge of the prime of his career. If he breaks out, that makes him a tremendous asset to a team as he’s under team control through 2024.
The Mets could use that. Aside from the fact this isn’t an organization deep in outfield talent, the Mets need to figure out their outfield past the 2021 season.
After this season, Conforto will be a free agent. In all honesty, he’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to sign. He’s represented by Scott Boras, and he’s basically the only All-Star caliber outfielder available in free agency. For that matter, he may be the only everyday outfielder available.
We can and should expect the Mets to do everything they can to keep Conforto. That said, we learned this past offseason with players like George Springer, the Mets have their limits, and they will walk away if they don’t believe a deal makes sense for them.
This is all a long winded way of saying re-signing Conforto is complicated, and the Mets need a viable alternative. It’s possible that could be McKinney. Still, it’s only been 12 games.
A week or month from now, we may be begging for Conforto and Nimmo as McKinney implodes. We may also be even more excited as McKinney continues his breakout. We just don’t know.
The only thing we do know is McKinney has a chance. If he continues playing well, he’ll continue to play. If that happens, he will continue to get his chance to replace Conforto on a more permanent basis.
Time will tell.
After the 2013 season, the New York Mets non-tendered Justin Turner for what is still inexplicable reasons. By any measure, it was a mistake to part with a player who was quality and versatile infield depth.
What we couldn’t have fully appreciated was just how much of a giant mistake it was. Really, it was an off the charts horrendous decision.
Since 2014, Turner was an All-Star, NLCS MVP, and part of the 2020 World Series champion Dodgers. While second baseman Daniel Murphy was the NLCS MVP the preceding season, no Mets third baseman accomplished these feats.
Since 2014, Turner has a 141 wRC+, 22 DRS, and a 26.6 WAR.
As a group, Mets third basemen have collectively amassed a 103 wRC+, -57 DRS, and a 17.9 WAR.
Turner has outhit, outfielded, and was just a flat out better player than anything the Mets put out on the field since he left the team. Certainly, that’s not something we ever expected from a team who had David Wright.
No one, and I repeat, no one should have realistically believed Turner would be far superior to Wright. That was absurd then. However, that wasn’t the point.
The Mets were making the claim Turner’s late season improvements weren’t of any value. They were claiming Eric Campbell was a better player. Even in 2013, those were both dubious claims.
With that, the Mets parted on cheap depth. They parted with a player on the cusp of a huge breakout. They parted with a difference maker.
Now, they’re in a position where Turner is STILL a massively better option than what the Mets have in-house. It makes you wonder if the Mets now realize this and try to bring him back, or if they’re going to keep going down this same path.