Mark Canha

Buck Showalter Indirectly Makes Case For Michael Conforto Return

To the surprise of no one, Buck Showalter aced his introductory press conference. If you’re a New York Mets fan, you heard everything you wanted to hear.

Two of the things you heard him speak about were the ability to play in New York and the players needed to win here. Here are two relevant quotes:

  • “When you get it right, and there’s a lot of people living and dying what you do every day, so there is an accountability responsibility to it and it’s not for everybody. We’re going to try to find out who it’s for, who is in and who ain’t.”
  • “I think one of the mistakes people make is when they come into a situation and think everything there isn’t good and needs to be changed.”

When reading these two quotes, you can’t help but think about Michael Conforto.

Conforto is a free agent after spending seven years with the Mets. In his time, he’s at least been a top 20 position player in team history. If he stayed, he would rewrite much of the Mets record books.

With him, we’ve seen a player who can play in and handle New York. More than that, he has emerged as a true leader, and he’s been able to handle the most difficult of circumstances.

When things have been good, so has Conforto. We know he can play in the big games and deliver.

While he most likely wasn’t referring to Conforto in any way, shape, or form, Showalter’s words endorsed a Conforto return. Conforto is able to handle New York, and as Showalter said, the Mets shouldn’t be making the mistake of changing for changing sake.

Now, this is all well and good, but realistically speaking Conforto is as good as gone. That happened when the Mets signed Mark Canha and Starling Marte.

That said, if there’s an avenue to bring back Conforto, the Mets should do it. The Mets need players who can handle the gauntlet of New York, and he’s one of those players. In many ways, he’s a player Showalter proverbially wants.

Dominic Smith Should Be Mets 2022 First Baseman

With the signings of Mark Canha and Starling Marte, we can rest assured the days of Dominic Smith being an everyday left fielder are over. That is good for the team who needs better defense and for Smith who needs to return to being a first baseman.

Of course, the problem with that is Pete Alonso. By WAR, he was the best player on the Mets last season. That is partially because of his bat. He had a 134 OPS+ while hitting 37 homers. He has established himself as the best power hitter in Citi Field history, and he just might be the best power hitter ever produced by the Mets organization.

However, Alonso was more than just that. Alonso had a reputation as a bad fielder in the minors. He made significant strides to become just a poor fielding first baseman. In his first two seasons, he was a dreadful -5 OAA each year, and he combined for a terrible -4 DRS. By all measures,. he was a bad fielder at the position, albeit one who could stick due to his bat and ability to scoop balls.

That’s not Alonso anymore. He did the work to become a good first baseman. He had a 2 OAA and 5 DRS. He rated as a top 10 first baseman by OAA and top five by DRS. Anyway you look at it, he was a good first baseman, and he was an excellent hitter. However, that is only part of the equation.

After the current collective bargaining agreement negotiations, there is the expectation there will be a universal DH. If and when that comes, the Mets have to decide who should be the DH. There are some arguments for Robinson Cano, but who actually knows if he can hit without the PEDs and laying dormant for a season.

Notably, in 2020, the answer to that question was Alonso. It was not the initial plan, but for a myriad of reasons, it worked out that way. One of the biggest reasons why was Dominic Smith was just a better fielder at the position, and he was hitting.

Aside from his rookie season, he has put together good numbers at first. That includes his 2 DRS this season and 0 OAA. That was in a much shorter sample size than Alonso and with Smith spending time preparing to be the left fielder. For Smith, that’s part of the problem. Instead of honing his craft, he has been spending his time preparing to play out of position.

As we saw in 2020, when he is playing his natural position, he’s great. In that season, he was arguably the Mets best player. He hit, and he fielded. He was clutch and he did it in a very challenging time. The Mets need that player back.

At the moment, there is a discussion the Mets still need that bat. As we saw in 2020, Smith can very well be that bat. He just needs to be put in the best position to succeed. In left field, he was wasting energy trying to be good at a position he shouldn’t be playing. He also broke down cheating him of his ability to succeed at the plate.

That’s not to say Alonso should never play first. He needs to be kept up to speed. Injuries happen, and Smith could falter. However, when push comes to shove, in the event there is a universal DH, Smith should be the first baseman with Alonso at DH. In the end, if Smith is Smith, this will take the Mets to a whole new level, and it will help to further cement the Mets are true World Series contenders.

Buck Showalter Not Good Fit For Mets Job

October 4, 2016. Rogers Centre. American League Wild Card Game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays tie the score 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth. In the seventh inning, Buck Showalter used Donnie Hart to relieve Mychal Givens in the seventh. He went to Brad Brach in the eighth and ninth. When Brach was in trouble in the ninth, Showalter went to Darren O’Day. After using Brian Duensing to record an out in the 11th, Showalter went to Ubadlo Jimenez, who would lose the game.

The Orioles would be eliminated from the postseason, and it all happened while Zack Britton waited around for a save opportunity. That year, Britton was unequivocally the best reliever in baseball with a 0.54 ERA. He was awesome, but with elimination on the line, Showalter went with a number of different pitchers including Jimenez, a starter.

This was not an isolated instance in Showalter’s career. Go back to Game 5 of the ALDS. After pushing David Cone too far, the game was tied in the bottom of the eighth. Instead of going to John Wetteland, he opted for Jack McDowell, a starter. McDowell would lose the game in the 11th.

A lot changed in baseball from 1995 until 2016, and yet, Showalter hadn’t changed. Yes, there were instances he used a closer in a non-save situation on the road (Matt Mantei, Game 4 NLDS), but ultimately, this is who Showalter has been for better or for worse. He is not one to worry about leverage, stats, etc. He is going to manage by his guy more than anything else. As he puts it, he wants to use them to verify himself, not the other way around.

That’s not to say he hasn’t or won’t evolve. After all, his Orioles teams did implement shifting, and in an attempt to put his team in the best position to win, they tracked the results all season. However, when all is said and done, he’s going to do what he thinks is best. Again, this works at times and fails other times.

Here’s the big problem. He would be working for Sandy Alderson and Billy Eppler. Alderson notoriously wanted to minimize the manger role, and he wants constant input. It was something which beleaguered former Mets manager Luis Rojas, who had to strictly follow the scripts given to him.

Eppler was the Los Angeles Angels General Manager when Mike Scioscia “stepped down.” He then went with a more analytical and modern manager in Brad Ausmus, who was replaced after one season when the owner wanted Joe Maddon.

Another note here with Alderson and Eppler is the type of team they are building. They are clearly going heavy on older veterans in an attempt to win now. Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte, and Max Scherzer are all in their 30s and have played for several years. That has usually been a bad mix for Showalter.

As noted when he was fired by the Arizona Diamondbacks, their veteran laden roster needed less of a disciplinarian and more of a player’s manager. That’s been his career. He is exceptional with younger teams teaching them the right way to play. He gets the most out of them. After a while, his personality and style of managing tends to wear on players, and he’s out.

None of this is to say he’s not a good manager. Showalter is a very good manager. If this were the 2019 Mets, he was a perfect fit for that younger team learning how to win. This is not that team. This is a very veteran team who needs a manager better suited to getting top performances from top players. They need more of a collaborator with the front office who will demand it.

Who the Mets new manager should be remains a very good debate. If they do wind up hiring Showalter, they will certainly win games. However, at the end of the day, this is a poor fit with Showalter and the Mets being better suited to finding a different match.

Mets Sign Regressing Mark Canha

Sometimes, when a player comes to mind, we tend to think of the one breakout year and not the collective body of work. Mark Canha is one of those players.

In 2019, Canha was terrific. He hit .273/.396/.517 with 16 doubles, three triples, 26 homers, and 58 RBI. He had a 146 OPS+ and a 4.1 WAR.

Defensively, Canha was good posting a 2 OAA in left and right. This was as complete and under appreciated and ballplayer as they come.

Canha was this player in 2019 and 2019 only. In all the other years of his career, he’s fallen far short of the OPS+ and WAR numbers. The more we see him, the more we see 2019 as his outlier year.

In many ways, that’s a problem. Remember, 2019 was the last year things were normal, and we tend to remember it more. Moreover, that year featured a juiced ball, and Canha with his career best .244 ISO benefitted.

Since that 2019 season, Canha hasn’t been the same player. He’s really been hurt by the lack the the juiced ball and aging.

Since 2019, when Canha was 30, he’s hit .235/.366/.393. He was a 115 OPS+ and 4.0 WAR player over that 200 game stretch. That’s not the same player.

That’s shown more through the metrics. His exit velocities dropped two straight years. The same goes for his barrels and hard hit rates. Put another way, this is a player making far less quality contact, and he’s at an age where these stats don’t typically improve.

Canha received a two year $26.5 million deal. That’s starter money. More to the point, Canha isn’t signing this early to sit on the bench.

The Mets could’ve and should’ve done better than Canha. Remember, he’s not the player he was in 2019, and he’s been regressing as he nears his mid 30s. Overall, this wasn’t a great move.