When discussing Joey Cora, we need to remember this was a coach who was terminated in-season by a last place Pittsburgh Pirates team. At the time of his firing, he was the worst third base coach in the game.
That really has been no different with the Mets. We’ve seen a number of occasions where Cora has made dumb sends and bad reads. However, you could live with it if Cora was helping the Mets in other areas.
With the demotion of Brett Baty to Triple-A, we see Cora has not been helping the Mets either as a third base or infield coach.
One of the reasons Baty was called up to the majors was his glove was significantly better than Eduardo Escobar‘s. When he first was called up, he was hitting and playing the field well. At one point, Baty was up to a 2 OAA at third.
However, after working with Cora nearly all season long, he dropped to a -6 OAA. Baty went from a very good defender to one of the three worst defensive third baseman in the majors. If this was just a Baty issue, we could move along. However, it goes far deeper than Baty.
When J.D. Davis was with the Mets, he was a horrendous defender with part of that being his outfield play. Cora worked with Davis, and he did not improve in the slightest. However, Davis went to the San Francisco Giants where he has been a very good defensive third baseman.
The year before Buck Showalter took over and brought along Cora, Pete Alonso had made terrific strides at first base. He went from a poor defender to an 8 OAA, which was outstanding growth. Since working with Cora, Alonso has been a -8 OAA.
We did seen Luis Guillorme and Jeff McNeil have very good defensive seasons in what was the last year of the shift. This year, both players have regressed defensively, which is one of many issues which has plagued the Mets this season.
What’s funny is with Baty now in Triple-A, it looks like the Mets aren’t even going to try with Mark Vientos. After Baty was demoted, Vientos was in the lineup as the DH with the Mets putting Danny Mendick at third.
Now, Vientos has long had a reputation as a poor defensive third baseman. The assumption is he will have to wind up at first or DH in the long run (partially because of the presence of Alonso). When Baty was up, it made sense to work on Vientos as a DH.
However, Baty struggled to the point where he had to be demoted in a lost season for the Mets. If we’re being honest, he at least puts into question whether he is truly the third baseman of the future, which should permit the Mets to look in different directions.
That could include Ronny Mauricio, who is stuck in the minors and drowning while he looks for a position other than short. However, that should also include Vientos. You would think having a coach with as much experience as Cora would lead the team to have the duo work very closely between now and the end of the season.
You’d much rather two options at third than potentially none.
Unfortunately, it seems the Mets don’t trust Vientos at third, which is understandable. A corollary to that is the Mets don’t trust Cora making Vientos into a capable third baseman. That, too, is understandable. It’s also another reason why the Mets need to get rid of Cora.
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!”
When looking at the numbers, it didn’t make much sense for the New York Mets to jump the gun and sign Eduardo Escobar early in the 2021-2022 offseason. However, the Mets did, and they wound up with a player who brought a lot of intanglibes to the franchise.
Right off the bat, he gave a famed and impassioned speech to the Mets minor leaugers about what it takes to make it. It was just the tip of the iceberg on the impact a person of Escobar’s caliber can have on a franchise.
Escobar was brought in for those intangibles. After a season where the Mets fell apart and were booing the fans, they needed to address the chemistry. They needed real clubhouse guys. Escobar was every bit that and more. We got that sense of hearing Francisco Lindor talking about him in the moments after Escobar was traded:
Francisco Lindor was interviewed minutes after Eduardo Escobar was traded to the Angels.
“He's one of the best teammates I've ever had. We're going to miss him a lot."
— Metsmerized Online (@Metsmerized) June 24, 2023
Lindor hit in on the head when he said Escobar was one of the best teammates he ever had. He was also one of those players fans wanted to see succeed. That was no more evident than when Escobar told the fans he was going to give them reason to root for him.
We had that reason when Escobar had a great end to the 2022 season. We also had that reason throughout his tenure with how he comported himself and was always a team first player.
In 2022, when he struggled, Escobar lost his starting job to Luis Guillorme. Actually, it was a platoon, but when you’re the right-handed bat in the platoon, you lost your job. Escobar responded by being a great teammate and having a phenomenal end to the 2022 season to reclaim his job and doing all he could to prevent a collapse.
During that 2022 season, Brett Baty was called up. If not for Baty’s thumb injury, we have no idea if Escobar would ever get the opportunity to start again. Despite knowing that, he worked with Baty and Mark Vientos during spring training to help them improve as ballplayers. He actively helped prepare two prospect who were likely to take his job during the 2023 season.
With Escobar’s early season struggles, that happened much sooner than later. Escobar responded to that by being a great teammate and helping Baty anyway he could. He also responded by rebounding and starting to put together a much better season.
When you are having a lost season like the Mets are having, you are eventually going to have to sell. When the Los Angeles Angels offer the package of Coleman Crow and Landon Marceaux, you pretty much have to pull the trigger on that because you’re not really going to do much better for a utility player.
That said, as you look to get younger and go through difficult stretches, Escobar is exactly who you want on your team. You want him as a mentor and to be a positive force in the clubhouse. Trading him was necessary, but you don’t do it enthusiastically.
Escobar was very good for the Mets since they signed him. He had big moments, but the biggest moments of all was when he was a great teammate and true leader in the Mets clubhouse. He is going to be sorely missed.
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.
Entering the 2023 season, the consensus was Brett Baty was the New York Mets best third base option. When the season began, Baty was unstoppable with Triple-A Syracuse, and Eduardo Escobar could not have struggled more. As a result, very early on in the season, Baty was called up to take over the third base job.
For a time, Baty seemed to claim that job as his for the present and future. On May 5, he was hitting .319/.385/.511. Defensively, he was a 2 OAA. He was making everyone look good. His play was so good Buck Showalter even began playing him against left-handed pitchers and batting him fifth in the lineup.
Well, since that point, things have not gone well for Baty. Over his ensuing 24 games, Baty is hitting .173/.253/.284. He’s near an automatic out, and he’s down to a 90 wRC+.
There are a number of reasons for that. The ground ball rate is again an issue for Baty with a 1.84 GB/FB. He’s not barreling up the baseball, and while the strike out rate isn’t bad, he swings and misses a lot. That includes a 39% whiff rate against breaking balls.
Baty’s fielding has also slipped a bit with his OAA dropping from two to one. He’s been struggling on balls to his left. That’s not to say he’s been bad, but rather, his glove is not at the level to justify keeping an anemic bat in the lineup. Again, he has slipped from where he was a month ago.
While Baty is struggling, Escobar has come alive. Since May 1, Escobar is hitting .394/.444/.606. That’s a whopping 1.051 OPS. A large part of that is he has predominantly played against left-handed pitching.
Defensively, Escobar has been adept playing to a 0 OAA at second and third. Certainly, he has earned more playing time and more chances to prove himself.
In addition to Escobar, the Mets have a Mark Vientos problem. Since he has been called up, he has only started in nine out of a possible 15 games. By and large, Showalter is treating him as a platoon option for Daniel Vogelbach.
With Baty at third, and Showalter’s predilection towards playing veterans like Vogelbach, there’s not enough at-bats to give Vientos. That’s not to say Vientos shouldn’t be in the everyday lineup. Rather, the reality is the manager won’t do it.
Now., if Baty is sent to Triple-A, there is suddenly more at-bats available for Vientos. We can see him a little more comfortable, and we can get a better look at what Vientos can do with some regular playing time. Keep in mind, while Vientos struggles defensively, the Mets can and should call up Luis Guillorme as a defensive replacement.
Freeing up this playing time for Vientos is a consequence of who is managing. That in and of iteslf is not the reason to demote Baty. The reason behind that is Baty has been struggling for a while now, and we are starting to see some troubling trends like a dip in his defense and an increase in his ground ball rate.
It appears Baty needs to go back to Triple-A to work things out. When he does, the Mets should look to call him right back up because when he is going well, he is the Mets best option at third.
The New York Mets rode with their veterans for as long as they could. To a certain extent, you could understand it with Mark Canha being an integral part of a 101 win team. However, even with that in the 8-7 extra inning win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Buck Showalter did what needed to be done, and he hit Brett Baty for Canha.
Given the fact Eduardo Escobar and Tommy Pham were already out of the game, that meant Baty was going to have to play left field. It also meant that was the first time we got to see Francisco Álvarez, Baty, and Mark Vientos in the field for the Mets at the same time.
In many ways, this was the dawn of a new era of Mets baseball. We knew that Álvarez was always going to be the catcher of the future. It seemed Baty surpassed Vientos as the third baseman of the future. The question was what was to happen with Vientos. DH seemed to be the spot, but perhaps, there’s a new roadmap in place.
We got a glimpse of what Álvarez can do. He’s already an excellent defensive catcher, which has been a very pleasant surprise. We also saw him channel his inner Mike Piazza to hit the game tying homer in the ninth.
The Kids Are Alright!
— MLB (@MLB) May 18, 2023
That was the second Mets homer of the game. The first came from Vientos. He was called up to the majors because of his power at the plate. We all suspected it was game changing power, and we saw that happen when he homered in the seventh to tie the game at 2-2. It took a Mets team that looked down and out and put a jolt into them,.
WELCOME BACK TO THE BIG LEAGUES MARK VIENTOS!!!!
THIS GAME IS TIED! pic.twitter.com/z8iegpI5pF
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 18, 2023
We also know Pete Alonso hit the walk-off homer in the tenth to give the Mets an unexpected and much needed win. Of course, Alonso homering there only highlights the problem the Mets have. With Alonso at first, the team cannot put Vientos at first to put Baty at third like they did in Syracuse.
No, Vientos either has to play third or DH. Asking a young player to DH is sometimes an issue, and it would be better for him to play third. Looking to the offseason, the Mets also want to keep DH open to try to entice Shohei Ohtani, but that is a discussion for another time.
The discussion for right now is how to get Baty and Vientos onto the field at the same time. Perhaps, Baty having to play left field in an emergency is the roadmap. Perhaps, the Mets could try putting Baty in left with Vientos at third.
For what it is worth, Baty looked good there in 250 innings in the minors. His 27.1 ft/sec sprint speed is quicker than Pham and is sufficient to play left. He’d be one of the slower left fielders, but with his quick reactions formed while training for third. There is also the fact the Mets were preparing for that eventuality when they initially agreed to terms with Carlos Correa.
Vientos is not a great third baseman. It’s one of the reasons he was usurped by Baty. We saw him make a great throw to get Jose Siri, but he also made a rough throw that cost the Mets a chance at a double play. However, he is vastly improved defensively, and he has a game changing bat.
The Mets can and should bring Luis Guillorme back up to fill in for late inning defense. Canha can be available for that as well. They can use Escobar to spell third on occasion. Using key veterans like Canha, Escboar, and Guillorme will help the Mets keep Baty and VIentos in games.
It will also help the Mets get the most out of their young players. It will help them make Álvarez, Baty, and Vientos the core of this team now and for the future.
It didn’t matter Canha has trouble with the slider and has been hitting .188/.229/.313 over the past two weeks and ..208/.268/.333 over the past month. What they know is that Guillorme isn’t better than Canha.
Actually, that’s not true. It’s a complete assumption predicated on the fact Guillorme does not hit for power. Since he does not hit for power, he is de facto bad. One blown call from the third base umpire, and those assumptions were then solidified as fact.
Here’s the thing. Guillorme has not been that good this season. We have not seen Gold Glove level ability in the field. Instead, Guillorme has a -3 OAA at second base. To be fair, if Guillorme is not fielding, it’s hard to find a spot for him to play.
However, the ability is still there. Despite the consternation from Mets fans, Guillorme got the start after failing to deliver with the bases loaded (Canha grounded into a double play with no outs and the bases loaded earlier in the game, but that didn’t matter as much). We saw Guillorme’s ability to field on display yet again:
A diving stop by Luis Guillorme! pic.twitter.com/N5jlqUWcXD
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 10, 2023
That was not the full extent of Guillorme’s contributions to the 2-1 win. He would start a two out rally with a double off Hunter Greene. He would come home to score the winning run on a Brandon Nimmo RBI single.
On the day, Guillorme was 2-for-3 with a run and a double. It was his second two hit game in as many starts. Since April 14, Guillorme is hitting .278/.395/.333. If he can field like Guillorme, that’s a very productive player.
Guillorme is not a superstar and is never going to be one. He is a guy who plays very good defense. He has good at-bats not striking out often and finding a way on base. As we saw last year, he is a winning type of player who makes your team better.
With the way Canha is struggling, it is difficult to play him over Guillorme. Guillorme has been much better over the past month, and he brings more to the team from a defensive standpoint. If given a playing time, he can again do what he did last year. If so, the Mets will begin winning games again.
Mostly, Guillorme can re-establish the type of player he is. He’s a strong defender who gets on base. When he’s that, the Mets are better, and when he’s playing like that, he will silence his critics (again). All he needs is a stretch of playing time. At this point, there is little doubt he should be getting it.
When Eduardo Escobar got off to a slow start to the season, the New York Mets did what they should have done to start the season. Brett Baty was called up to the majors to become the everyday third baseman with Escobar going to the bench.
Baty has been very good with a 154 wRC+ and a 1 OAA. He has claimed the Mets third base job for now and hopefully over the next decade. With him hitting his first homer against a left-handed pitcher, Buck Showalter is running out of excuses to sit him in favor of Escobar.
While Baty has been thriving, Escobar has been the consummate professional. He has helped Baty, and he also has been there to do whatever he can do to help this Mets team win.
What has gone unnoticed is he has been hitting well of late. Over his last six games played, Escobar is 6-for-19 with a double, triple, two homers, and five RBI. The obvious caveat there is the Mets have been playing him against left-handed pitching which he hits very well.
Still, the more Escobar hits, the more he is going to push his way into the lineup. Looking at Baty over at third, we know Escobar is losing his opportunities to play at third. Honestly, that is probably a good thing with Escobar having a -6 OAA at third last year and a -9 over the two previous seasons.
However, Escobar has been a good defender at second base. In 2021, he had a 3 OAA at second base. Keep in mind, with Escobar being on the bench, he is going to have to be versatile and be able to play more than just third. Fortunately, as we see here, second is probably his best position.
Escobar at second could help solve an issue for the Mets. At the moment, Mark Canha keeps regressing, and the Mets are running out of reasons to keep him in the everyday lineup. He has a 91 wRC+, and he is not hitting the ball hard.
Historically, Jeff McNeil is a better hitter when he plays left field. In his career, he has a .841 OPS as a left fielder against a .806 as a second baseman. That held true last year with McNeil having a .852 OPS at second as compared to a .863 OPS in left (and .896 in RF). Fact is, he’s a better hitter when he’s playing the outfield.
Getting him out there means Canha sits. Right now, the Mets can’t really sit Canha for Luis Guillorme. Guillorme only has an 80 wRC+, which is low even for him. Even more troubling is the -2 OAA at second. If he’s not fielding like he usually does, there really can’t be a spot for him in the everyday lineup.
The biggest takeaway here is the Mets have three players in Canha, Escobar, and Guillorme who are struggling. McNeil being better in left gives the Mets the ability to ride the hot hand between the three. Right now, Escobar is the hot hand. As a result, he needs to get the bulk of the playing time until he needs to come out of the lineup, and/or Canha or Guillorme get going again.
The New York Mets finished April with a 15-12 record three games behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East. Even for the Mets, there was a lot to digest:
2. Jacob deGrom‘s continued injuries are sad, and we should all want the best for him. However, no one should be using that as justification for the Mets letting him go to Texas when Justin Verlander has yet to throw a pitch for the Mets.
3. David Peterson pitched himself out of the rotation, and it’s not clear where the Mets go from here with him. He’s in Triple-A where he belongs for the time being. In the long term, the Mets need to figure out if he’s salvageable as a starter, needs to be their Trevor Williams, or perhaps their next Seth Lugo.
4. David Robertson has more than taken over for Edwin Díaz. The issue is the rest of the bullpen continues to fluctuate between injured, ineffective, and lights out. Really, game-to-game, the Mets have no consistency down there other than Robertson.
5. The youth movement has begun with Brett Baty, and we see Francisco Álvarez has been forcing the issue (surprisingly with his defense). At some point, the Mets are going to have to just give the DH job to Mark Vientos because he has been annihilating the baseball.
6. Buck Showalter seems content to stick with his veterans, and if that continues in the long run, it is going to be a problem. Given how young players were the key to his success in Baltimore, it is flat out crazy to see how he hasn’t involved from the instincts which doomed him with the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Texas Rangers.
7. Pete Alonso has been nearly everything you could ask from him to start this season. In fact, he’s even back to playing good defense at first base.
8. Brandon Nimmo has responded to signing that massive contract by arguably being the best player in baseball to start the season. This will be the first season he is an All-Star, and we should seem him get some MVP consideration should he stay healthy.
9. It’s been an uneasy start for Francisco Lindor, but he has been phenomenal defensively. Just remember with him, May is typically the month he breaks out in a season, so we should be in for a treat.
10. The way Daniel Vogelbach has started the season he is going to give the Mets reason to follow Daniel Murphy, who is off to a hot start with the Long Island Ducks. Better yet, we may see Vientos here sooner rather than later. Really, at some point, Vogelbach has to hit for some power.
11. Whatever the Mets thinking was on Tommy Pham, it was wrong. Moreover, it was wrong to build outfield depth with players 34 and older (aside from Nimmo). That goes double when you consider the Mets have zero Major League ready outfield depth in Syracuse.
12. Jeff McNeil surprisingly got off to a very slow start. However, he has been really strong the past two weeks, and he appears poised to have another very good season for the Mets.
13. McNeil needs to be more of a table setter. The Mets going with Starling Marte batting second just isn’t working. He’s making weak contact, and he’s just not getting on base enough. McNeil isn’t a five hitter. Again, Showalter needs to stop with the deference to veterans and start looking to win games.
14. Give Eduardo Escobar all the credit in the world. He lost his job, and he responded by being an amazing teammate and mentor. While his production may not be what the Mets wanted it to be when they signed him, the signing has paid off tenfold with his leadership and clubhouse presence.
15. Increasingly, Mark Canha looks done, at least as an everyday player. There needs to be a rotation with him and Luis Guillorme playing until the Mets figure out what they want to do with Ronny Mauricio. On Mauricio, so long as Showalter is loathe to play the young players, you simply cannot call him up.
16. There is an ace somewhere inside Kodai Senga. We saw it in Japan, and we have seen glimpses of it here. However, if he is going to continue to walk the ballpark, he is going to be a borderline MLB starter. That is a huge problem for the Mets with much of their success being tied into how good or bad he performs.
17. Every year, Drew Smith seems to be performing worse than what his actual numbers are. Part of that is his walk rate is too high.
18. Tomás Nido‘s defensive metrics are surprisingly poor. Part of that may be the difficulties in catching Senga. If not, the Mets are in trouble when their defensive specialist behind the plate isn’t performing.
19. The biggest takeaway from April is the Mets appear to be a postseason team with part of that being because it is an expanded postseason format. Keep in mind, while their record now may not be awe inspiring, they are still on a 90 win pace.
20. It needs to be repeated over and over again. The Mets need to go with their younger and more productive players. If Showalter is going to stand in the way of that, the Mets need to find someone who won’t. It’s just that simple.
The New York Mets have a number of offensive problems to start the season with nearly everyone struggling at one point. Singling out any single player is a big unfair, but like with what the Mets did with Eduardo Escobar, at some point, the team needs to know when to make a switch.
Right now, the Mets are getting into that position with Mark Canha.
Canha is a useful player on a Major League roster. He gives excellent at-bats, and he makes contact. He does find a way to get on base with a career 21.2% walk rate. He is a solid defender in left field, and he is a good base runner with some speed.
However, when you break it all down, we are seeing a 34 year old with diminishing skills. In some ways, he is the epitome of a Mets offense with has trouble generating power and scoring runs.
Per Baseball Savant, Canha is among the worst in generating hard contact at the plate, which is why his xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA are so low. He’s generating just 5.3% barrels per plate appearance. Keep in mind, that is not at all the worst on the Mets.
Last year, Canha got away with this same approach a bit for two reasons. First and foremost was his .309 BABIP. That was uncharacteristically high for him. He’s at .289 for his career, and with him at .262 this season, we are seeing a batter with a 96 wRC+ to begin the season.
Canha currently has a .690 OPS. Historically, he has a .741 over the first month of the season. Last season, he had a .792 OPS over the first month of the season. So far, he has not been the same hitter he was last season, which has been problematic.
Another reason Canha was so effective last season was the HBP. He’s been a pincushion his entire career, and he led the majors with 28 HBP last year. That was after leading the league with 27 the previous season. So far this year, he is “only” at two, which puts him on pace for roughly 12.
Now, the Mets could get away with this if Canha was an elite defender. He’s not. He was a -1 OAA last year. This season, he is at a 0 OAA while converting roughly the same percentage of plays he did last season.
Fact is, Jeff McNeil plays a better left field than Canha does right now. Looking at the roster, Luis Guillorme may hit for even less power than Canha, but he is a better defensive player (even if his -2 OAA at second is uncharacteristically low to start the year). The Mets also have the option of looking towards Ronny Mauricio at some point during the season.
Again, Canha has value. He can be the platoon option for Daniel Vogelbach. He can spell Pete Alonso at first. He can still play left field. The problem is he’s not hitting enough to remain as a regular in the lineup, and he doesn’t field well enough to carry a weaker bat.
By all accounts, the Mets can give him more time. Typically, May is really when he gets going in a season. He should get a couple of weeks at least, but at some point, if Canha still isn’t producing, he is going to have to sit for another player.