There was news recently the New York Mets plan on inviting David Wright to Spring Training to work with Brett Baty and Mark Vientos. The Mets interest is obvious because they want the best third baseman in team history to teach two of their best prospects to maximize their potential.
In terms of the Mets, this is something they and every franchise do. They always love bringing back the team greats to work with their young players. Years ago, the Mets had Mike Piazza work with Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. If not for the World Baseball Classic, maybe Piazza could be there working with Francisco Álvarez and Kevin Parada.
For the Mets, we know they won’t stop at Wright. When looking at it, one Mets legend they should invite to Spring Training is R.A. Dickey because he can have an impact like no other former Mets player could.
We’re all very aware of the Dickey story. He was a former first round pick of the Texas Rangers who was discovered to be born without a UCL in his right arm who threw a forkball which was more akin to a knuckleball. This led him on a long and transient path to the majors and eventually the New York Mets.
With the Mets, he would be named the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner, and he would be the last Mets pitcher to win 20 games. He had taken the mantle from Tim Wakefield as the great knuckleball pitcher of his generation, but unfortunately, there has really been no one to take up that mantle since Dickey retired.
When looking at any farm system, the Mets included, there are pitchers who are never going to make it to the majors. There are various reasons including lack of velocity and/or control. For those prospects, and for the organization, the question is how long you play out the string with them until you change something about them or eventually cut them loose. It’s a sad reality of the minor leagues.
For the Mets, having Dickey in camp could permit him to teach those prospects not just the knuckleball but his knuckleballs. Remember, when Dickey was with the Mets he threw multiple ones which is what made him a unique and dominating pitcher.
R.A. Dickey's Knuckleballs (close up) 🦋 pic.twitter.com/pCi00TYw3U
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) December 26, 2022
To some degree, this is what we saw happen with Jacob deGrom and Johan Santana. When Santana taught deGrom his change, deGrom’s trajectory as a prospect went to the next level. Taking another ninth round pick and showing them the knuckleball could have a similar impact. Chances are, it won’t, but certainly, it is worth trying.
In the end, Dickey is just one of four Mets pitchers to win a Cy Young. He was a great Met for the short time he was here, and for that reason alone, he should be invited back for spring training. The fact he could help Mets prospects take their game to the next level makes inviting Dickey a must.
Before the season, there were 60 bold predictions made heading into the New York Mets 60th season. Here is a look back at how those bold predictions worked out:
1. The New York Mets will win the 2022 World Series.
While they won 101 games, they collapsed late in the season, and they would lose in three games to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card round.
2. Howie Rose will retire after the season. The Mets have already tabbed their replacement in Jake Eisenberg, and Rose could not pass up the opportunity to go out calling a Mets World Series victory.
Fortunately, Howie has not announced his retirement.
3. Rose will return in some limited fashion to SNY and will be a fill-in replacement in 2023 and beyond.
Lindor did have a huge second year, but a broken finger cost him any chance of winning the award.
5. Dominic Smith will force his way into the lineup. Yes, he’s battling with J.D. Davis and Robinson Cano for the DH spot, but like he did in 2019 and 2020, he’s going to force his way into the everyday lineup and not relinquish his spot.
As it turned out, Smith was not given a real shot to be the DH. Not only did he not force his way into the lineup, but he was demoted to Triple-A, and he was not called up even with the expanded rosters. He was non-tendered after the season.
6. Edwin Diaz will be an All-Star. Diaz has been an every other year pitcher in his career, and following that pattern, this is his year.
Diaz was an All-Star.
7. The Mets All-Stars this season will be Diaz, Lindor, and Max Scherzer.
Diaz was the only All-Star from this group. The other Mets All-Stars were Pete Alonso, Starling Marte, and Jeff McNeil.
It started that way, but deGrom wasn’t quite as sharp when he returned. He did not receive any votes.
9. Jeff McNeil will finish the season as the left fielder. That is an injury prone outfield, and McNeil will eventually be forced to move out there.
As it turned out, he finished the season as the right fielder, but he moved back to second when Marte returned from injury for the postseason.
10. Robinson Cano will reclaim a starting job. We forget that when Cano played he was actually good in the field. If the outfield is as injury prone as we think, we will eventually play almost every day at second or DH.
Wow, this one was way off the mark and couldn’t have been more wrong.
It was the opposite for Bassitt. He was strong all season until the very end.
12. Starling Marte is going to have a fast start and quickly become a fan favorite. When he’s snubbed at All-Star time, fans are going to be livid.
Marte was a fan favortite, and Mets fans would not let him be snubbed with their voting him in as a starter.
13. Mark Vientos will have a thrilling MLB debut. Vientos’ bat is arguably Major League ready, and he’s going to get some run during some point of the season as a third baseman or DH. He may not relinquish a spot.
For whatever which reason, the Mets were reluctant all year to give him a shot. After the Darin Ruf trade disaster, he finally got a shot in a pennant race and was less then thrilling.
14. Brett Baty will be moved at the trade deadline. With the emergence of Vientos and the ground ball problems, the Mets feel comfortable moving him for that big piece at the trade deadline.
Baty was not moved, and he would be called up to be the team’s everyday third baseman until his own season ending injury.
15. The Mets everyday catcher is not on the Opening Day roster. At some point, the Mets will swing a deal or call up Francisco Alvarez to take over as the everyday catcher.
With his ankle injury, Álvarez was only called up to DH late in the season. Tomas Nido did supplant James McCann as the starter.
16. The Philadelphia Phillies will be the Mets main contenders. Last year, the Atlanta Braves were dead in the water until the Mets were too injured. The Mets won’t do that again this year, and the Phillies pitching and hitters will give people more of a run than we think.
Well, the Phillies won the pennant, so this was only true to that extent. However, the Mets missed their every chance to bury the Braves and would eventually collapse.
This was very true in June. It was not true at all after that.
18. Tylor Megill will last the entire season in the rotation. Now that he’s here, it is going to be difficult to remove him from the rotation. If need be, the Mets will go to a six man rotation to keep him in the majors.
Megill had a good run as a starter until he was injured. He returned late in the season and moved to the bullpen. He is likely in the mix for the rotation next season.
19. Carlos Carrasco will rebound and will pitch like he did with Cleveland, but he will not make more than 20 starts.
Shockingly, not only did Carrasco rebound, but he also made 29 starts.
20. Trevor Williams will become a huge part of the Mets bullpen as he becomes more of a fastball/slider pitcher.
Williams was a vital part of this team all season.
21. Steve Cohen will purchase SNY during the course as the 2022 season as the Wilpons are scared off by the increasing rights deals with streamers.
This did not happen.
22. The Mets will have multiple Gold Glove winners with Lindor and Marte.
The Mets did not have any winners with only Nido being a finalist. In terms of the voting, there were multiple Mets who were snubbed despite excellent defensive numbers.
23. Hefner will get interviews for managerial positions with other teams after this season.
His name has not surfaced as a managerial candidate.
24. So will Eric Chavez.
Neither has him.
25. The Mets will not have any player at DH for more than 40 games this season.
This was very close to being true. J.D. Davis was a DH in 41 games before the team mercifully got rid of him. After the trade deadline, Daniel Vogelbach was the DH in 46 games.
26. J.D. Davis will make multiple relief appearances for the Mets this season.
He did not.
While Rodriguez had his moments, he had an 87 ERA+ making his largely true.
28. None of the Mets outfielders will play over 135 games this season.
To our collective surprise, Brandon Nimmo played a career high 151 games. Mark Canha would play 140.
For a one week stretch, when Plummer hit that ninth inning homer against the Phillies, Mets fans did fall in love with him before he stopped hitting as a part time DH. No Mets fan paid any attention to Lee.
30. Mark Canha will play more games than any other Mets outfielder, but he will have the lowest WAR out of all the regular outfielders.
Canha played fewer games than Nimmo, but he did have the lowest WAR among outfielders.
31. There will be an issue over Marcus Stroman not receiving a video tribute when the Chicago Cubs visit the Mets in September.
There wasn’t any issues with Stroman during the season, and he did not pitch against the Mets this year.
32. Old Timers’ Day will have one team wearing the 1986 Mets jerseys and the other team wearing the black jerseys.
That did not happen.
Sadly, this was true.
34. The loudest ovation on Old Timers’ Day will go to Piazza. The second loudest will go to Nolan Ryan, who will be a surprise attendee.
It was difficult to ascertain who got the loudest ovation which was a great thing.
35. The defensive highlight of the season will come from Luis Guillorme.
This award probably goes to McNeil for robbing the Oneil Cruz homer, but Guillorme had more than his fair share of highlights.
36. Pete Alonso will take a step back defensively, and he will see more time at DH than initially expected.
Alonso took a big step back defensively, but the Mets hesitated to give him more time at DH even to give him rest late in the season.
37. A week or two into the season, we will hear some rumblings about Michael Conforto looking to return to the Mets. He won’t return, and likely, he will not sign with anyone until after the Major League draft.
There were some rumblings about Conforto, but he wasn’t tied with the Mets. He also did not sign with any team.
38. Some team will crack the frequency on the pitch calling device, and we will eventually know it is them because they will be the surprise team of the 2022 season. It won’t be the Mets.
We heard nothing on that front, but we should give this one time.
39. Mets fans will actually enjoy the Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts this season.
Nope, we didn’t, and it didn’t help that David Cone was saying Mets fans would complain about them not being GKR.
40. Showalter will be the 2022 NL Manager of the Year, and it might be unanimous.
41. Seth Lugo will return to his dominant form, but he will only be a one inning reliever. The multiple inning role will be assumed by Williams.
This one was actually true.
42. The Tom Seaver statue will be perfect.
This one should’ve been true. However, Paul Lukas of Uniwatch found the flaw.
Smith was well on his way until injury. May did not have a great year, but that was mostly due to injury. It should be noted he stepped up late in the season and in the postseason.
44. People will talk about how Scherzer isn’t what they thought he’d be and the contract was a mistake. Those people will be idiots.
With Scherzer dealing with an oblique injury and faltering against the Braves and Padres, this ultimately proved true.
45. The Mets are going to have a monster second half with them running away with the division.
The Mets did have a monster second half until they faltered against the weakest September schedule. Truth is they should have run away with the division.
46. With the Toronto Blue Jays winning the division, the Mets are going to make a push to get their unvaccinated players vaccinated to ensure their availability for the World Series.
The Blue Jays made the postseason. With them and the Mets losing in the Wild Card round, this was not remotely an issue.
47. Jeurys Familia will receive a tribute video when he returns to Citi Field, and there will be a mix of cheers and boos with probably more boos.
It was a chilly reception.
48. The Wild Card round will be a complete dud and fans will be clamoring for the return of the winner-take-all Wild Card Game.
So far, fans seems to be unhappy with the postseason changes.
49. We will see David Peterson bounced around between starting and relieving due to the injury issues with the Mets starting staff. He will struggle for it.
Peterson did quite well even if he had some struggles, and he stayed in the rotation for the most part.
Holderman emerged as a quality relief option, but he would be traded for Vogelbach. Szapucki was moved to the bullpen with Syracuse with an eye towards using him in that role. He too would be traded for a platoon DH option (Ruf). The Mets only added Mychael Givens at the deadline while espousing they liked what they had.
This proved true with Nido finally taking over full duties at the very end of the season.
52. No New York baseball player will sign an in-season extension. That includes deGrom and Nimmo, and it also includes Aaron Judge.
True, but Diaz was signed before the start of free agency.
53. There will be no negative articles written about Showalter this season even during a time in the season where the Mets slump (as even the best teams in baseball always do).
True even as his team collapsed.
54. Taijuan Walker will make the fewest starts of anyone in the Mets pitching rotation.
Walker tied for the second most starts. deGrom would actually make the fewest starts.
55. The Mets will have a no-hitter this season, but it will not be from a starting pitcher going all nine innings.
On April 29, the Co-No happened.
56. This will be the last Major League season with nine inning double headers. We will see the return of seven inning double headers in 2023.
This likely will not happen.
There was no such announcment, but there was the announcement of Willie Mays and Keith Hernandez having their numbers retired.
58. Mets fans will not care about the Apple TV game, but they will be absolutely livid about the game on Peacock. Of course, MLB will not care one iota about the blowback.
MLB did not care about the lack of quality with the games, and honestly, while there were complaints, Mets fans didn’t complain nearly as much about the streaming games as you’d anticipate.
59. Showalter is going to get Guillorme in a lot of games for late inning defense.
It actually proved to be more than just that. Showalter got Guillorme into the lineup due to his glove.
60. To reiterate, the Mets will win the World Series, and they will not have to wait another three decades for their next World Series.
To reiterate, I’m an idiot, and I’ll probably make the same prediction next year.
We still do or do not know if Shohei Ohtani will be traded this offseason. The Los Angeles Angels are up for sale, and with a sale process ongoing, we may not see the superstar traded.
As a franchise, now may be the time to trade him. He’s a year away from free agency. He’s voicing his discontent. Even with Ohtani and Mike Trout, this is a team nowhere close to contention. That goes double when you consider what the Houston Astros are doing and the Seattle Mariners young core.
If Ohtani were available for trade, it would behoove the Mets to do everything they can do to get him right now. No, they should not wait around and hope to flex Steve Cohen’s financial muscle in the ensuing offseason.
The biggest reason why is you don’t know if he will even be a free agent. Years ago, Mets fans were awaiting Cohen to purchase the team, and the prevailing “wisdom” was not to go out and get Mookie Betts. because the Mets could just sign him after the offseason. Well, Betts signed a massive extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
We did see Cohen act similarly. The Mets went out and traded for Francisco Lindor. Cohen then gave him the biggest contract for a shortstop in Major League history to ensure Lindor would not hit the open market. We can go back over 20 years ago when the Mets obtained Mike Piazza from the Florida Marlins and then gave him a record contract during their exclusive negotiating window before the start of free agency.
When a team trades for and obtains a superstar, they get a chance to put on the full court press to sign that player to an extension with zero competition. Cohen has already once used that tactic for his benefit, and given the right player, he can do that again. Make no mistake, Ohtani is that player.
Heading into the offseason, the Mets likely want a course correction on their DH situation. While Daniel Vogelbach performed, their right-handed platoon options faltered. That leaves the Mets looking to upgrade from Darin Ruf or looking to start anew. Ideally, they would look to start anew.
Certainly, the Mets could look to blow that situation up for the right player. Ohtani is the right player. Since his rookie season in 2018, Ohtani has a 137 wRC+. That is second only to Yordan Alvarez among designated hitters. Really, Ohtani has become the second best DH in all of baseball.
We also see the Mets need to address their starting pitching. Jacob deGrom is going to opt out. Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker have player options. The Mets need to make a decision on how to rebuild their rotation.
Since undergoing Tommy John, the 2022 season was Ohtani’s first real full season as a starter. For a bad Angels team, he was 15-7 with a 2.33 ERA, 1.027 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, and an 11.9 K/9. That K/9 figure lead the American League and was second in all of baseball. He also averaged nearly six innings per start.
Revisit the Mets situation for a second. They need to address their DH spot. Ohtani is the second best in the sport. They need to rebuild their rotation. Ohtani has pitched like a number two starter. Ohtani has a good relationship with Mets GM Billy Eppler, and Cohen has the financial might and will to sign Ohtani to an extension. Certainly, the marketing locally, nationally, and abroad makes him all the more enticing to the Mets.
The only thing standing in the Mets way will be the Angels asking price. If there is the opportunity to sign Ohtani to an extension, the Mets should meet whatever price the Angels are asking. Really, there are no untouchables in the Mets organization when it comes to Ohtani.
Sure, there may be a limit as to the package you may be willing to offer, but the Mets must keep in mind they are getting TWO players with Ohtani. They’re getting a star DH. They’re getting a top of the rotation caliber pitcher. They’re getting a superstar with immense likeability and marketability. He is going to make the Mets significantly better, and he is going to make them a ton of money.
Ohtani in a Mets uniform would be a dream come true for the Mets. He is everything they want and need. If he’s out there on the trade market, the Mets absolutely must do everything in their power to make him a Met for the rest of his career. That starts in 2022.
On August 2, 2022, the New York Mets traded J.D. Davis along with prospects Carson Seymour, Thomas Szapucki, and Nick Zwack. for then San Francisco Giants 1B/OF/DH Darin Ruf. It was a trade widely panned at the time due to the prospect overpay. However, this is the type of trade where if the Mets won the World Series no one would really care about the overpay.
The converse to this is naturally the overpay is highlighted when the player struggles. This is why teams typically will not admit a mistake and do everything they can to try to make the trade work. If they can get just one big hit or a small hitting streak, they can point to that to say they didn’t completely mess up. What most teams don’t realize is that player struggling mightily only makes the trade worse because the player not only struggles, but they also inhibit a team’s chances of winning.
Things with Ruf actually started great. In his first Mets plate appearance, he hit a pinch hit double. The problem is Ruf has done absolutely nothing after that. In 28 games, he is hitting .152/.216/.197 with three doubles and seven RBI. It is not hyperbole to say the Mets have gotten more from him as a pitcher (two scoreless innings in a blowout loss) than they have as a position player.
DARIN RUF HITS A TWO-RUN DOUBLE IN HIS METS DEBUT! pic.twitter.com/xsR9dvTGXS
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 6, 2022
Part of this was probably the Mets fault. They took a player who played semi-regularly, and they asked him to be a pure bench/platoon option. Unfortunately, Ruf was not suited for the role. Make no mistake, this was an unforced error and a complete gaffe by the Mets. They gave it a little less than two months before admitting defeat and investigating their other options.
Mets teams of old play and lose with Ruf. This Mets team doesn’t care about how their image and competency are adjudged. They know that will solely be defined by winning the World Series. The Mets saw Ruf would’ve hindered those chances. Instead, the Mets needed to pursue other options who would give them a better chance to win.
First, it was Mark Vientos. In Oakland, it did seem like he was figuring things out. We would even see him hit his first Major League homer. He was cutting down on the strikeouts and taking better at-bats. The thing is he had chances in his last game in big spots, and he didn’t deliver.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 24, 2022
We have seen enough from Vientos to see he is going to be a power hitter at the Major League level. In his minor league career, he has shown the ability to make adjustments and thrive at the plate. However, with the Mets waiting so long before calling him up to the majors, he might not have that time he needs to get comfortable, adjust, and thrive before playing in the postseason.
With that in mind, the Mets called up Francisco Álvarez, the player Keith Law dropped a Mike Piazza comp on before the season. Certainly, with the 27 homers, Álvarez has backed that up. Mets fans have been waiting for this since Álvarez said in Spring Training his goal was to make it to the majors this season. He probably would’ve made it sooner if not for that ankle injury.
Francisco Álvarez against left-handed pitching this season:
— Michael Mayer (@michaelmayer22) September 30, 2022
Right now, it seems Álvarez is here to DH in one game and be available as a pinch hitting option. While Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer were complimentary of his work behind the plate, a team that is going to win and lose the World Series based on their pitching cannot sit James McCann and Tomas Nido, who are exceptional framers.
No, for now, this is a one shot deal. Álvarez is here to DH. He is here because Ruf couldn’t do the job. He is here because the Mets are still unsure if Vientos can do the job. Mostly, he is here because this Mets team will not be defined by their mistakes. Instead, they will be defined by winning.
For the 10th time in New York Mets history, the team is going to the postseason. This is truly a remarkable achievement, and it is a credit to Steve Cohen for his ability to quickly turnaround this franchise after the Wilpon disaster. Mostly, it is a credit to each and every one of the players on the field.
For a franchise who has double the amount of 90+ loss seasons than postseason appearances, this is a historic time in Mets history. It was worthy of celebration, and thankfully, the players were able to appreciate what they accomplished.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 20, 2022
Unfortunately, the work is not done. Not by a long shot. At the moment, the Mets are still a game up in the division and tied in the loss column with the Atlanta Braves. That leaves this Mets team in a position where they have to do what no Mets team has done before – beat the Braves.
Yes, the Mets have actually beat the Braves en route to a World Series. Back in 1969, in the inaugural NLCS, the Amazin’s swept the NL West Champion Braves who featured future Hall of Famers in Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda, and Phil Niekro. However, since the Wild Card format, which put the Braves in the NL East, the Mets have never been able to overcome the Braves as an obstacle.
It really first began in 1998. We talk about the collapse of 2007, but this one might have been worse. All the Mets had to do was just win one of their final five games to force a one game playoff for the Wild Card. The Braves swept them the final series of the season despite not having anything to play for.
In 1999, the Braves appeared to leave the Mets in the dust taking two out of three putting the Mets behind the Cincinnati Reds heading into the final series of the season. The Braves truly thought they left the Mets in the dust with Chipper Jones boasting that the Mets fans could now go into their closets and get their New York Yankees gear.
The Mets survived, and they fought back from an insurmountable 3-0 series deficit. John Olerud had the RBI single in the eighth inning in Game Four. Robin Ventura had the Grand Slam Single ending Game Five. In Game Six, Mike Piazza hit the game tying homer off John Smoltz in the seventh capping a comeback from 7-0.
After Melvin Mora singled home Benny Agbayani in the eighth, it looked like there was going to be a Game Seven. However, John Franco blew it in the eighth. After Todd Pratt‘s sacrifice fly in the 10th, again, it looked like a Game Seven before Armando Benitez blew the save (this was before we knew Benitez couldn’t handle these spots). Finally, in the 11th, Kenny Rogers just blew it.
In 2000, the Mets could not beat the Braves for the division title. They did win the pennant, but the Braves had already been taken out by the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 2001, the Mets seemed poised to do the impossible. They were a team who was playing out the string, but they appeared galvanized fighting for their city after 9/11. The dreams of the Mets returning to the postseason were dashed when again Benitez and Franco couldn’t get the job done. A Mets 5-1 ninth inning lead went by the wayside as Brian Jordan hit a walk-off grand slam.
From there, the Mets and Braves were never good again at the same time. Yes, the Mets would end the Braves tyranny atop the division in 2006, but the Braves were a distant third that season.
It would not be until 2021 until the Mets and Braves would clash for the division again. The Mets had spent 103 days in first place. The Braves charged, and they tied the Mets atop the division on August 6. The following day, they took control of the division and never relinquished it as the Mets went in MLB infamy for being the team with the most days in first place to finish the season with a losing record.
This Mets team has squandered a 10.5 game lead and a 3.0 game lead to start the month. Yes, the Braves have been playing incredible baseball. That certainly explains the lead shrinking by 6.5 games entering September. However, if the Mets had only taken care of business at the beginning of this month, they would be on firmer footing.
Right now, none of that matters. What matters is that there is the division. The Mets have 13 games remaining to prove they are the best team in the division. So long as they don’t get swept in Atlanta, they will own the tiebreakers. Really, all the Mets have to do is win games.
Put another way, this Mets team has to do what no other Mets team has done. They have to beat the Braves. If this happens, they will have accomplished what no Mets team has ever done. They will prove this team is different. They will show this team has what it takes to win the World Series.
For some reason, it just seems players need a year to get acclimated before taking off with the New York Mets. Just ask Carlos Beltran.
We’re again seeing it with Francisco Lindor.
Lindor’s first year with the Mets did not go well at all. He was booed, and there was controversy over the thumbs down bit.
Sure, the numbers weren’t bad. However, they weren’t quite Lindor. Not the future Hall of Famer who commanded the biggest contract ever handed out by the Mets or any shortstop in Major League history.
This season has been different. Even with the injures, Lindor has been as advertised. He’s playing near Gold Glove caliber defense, and he’s had a number of key hits.
That includes the grand slam against Taylor Rogers. Lindor just does so many things to help the Mets win.
The grand slam proved necessary. That’s not just because the Atlanta Braves won again, but it’s also because the Brewers would score again. Ultimately, the Mets won 7-5 and remain in first place.
For Lindor, he’s been exactly as advertised this season. He has a 13 OAA. That’s tied for second best among shortstops and the top seven (out of any position) in the majors.
At the plate, Lindor has a 129 wRC+, the second best of his career. That’s fourth among Major League shortstops.
What’s notable is Xander Bogaerts comes closest to Lindor with a 5 OAA, which is a wide disparity. The other two shortstops ahead of Lindor have a negative OAA.
Lindor is a truly unique player. He’s a power hitting shortstop who plays Gold Glove defense. He’s already the best shortstop the Mets have ever had, and he’s on his way to being among the best ever.
Mostly, when Lindor was acquired and extended, fans were promised things were different. The Mets had a superstar in the vein of a Beltran or Mike Piazza. Only this time, the Mets were not going to stop short of doing what was necessary to build a true World Series contender around their star player.
The Mets have shown the willingness to do all in their power to build a roster befitting their superstar. However, sometimes, it’s up to the superstar to be the difference maker, and once again, Lindor was just that.
James McCann is out with an injury, and we have no idea how long it will be. Chances are it may effectively be a season ending injury. That leaves the Mets with Tomás Nido. As we have seen with Nido, he does his job behind the plate, and as a result, the New York Mets have been comfortable using him as their main catcher.
The problem is they haven’t been as comfortable with Patrick Mazeika. That is understandable with Mazeika having a 41 wRC+. With him being an average framer, carrying that bat is a problem. Yes, it is a small sample size, but it’s essentially what Mazeika has been, i.e. a poor man’s version of Josh Thole.
When Mazeika is looked upon as a stopgap, he has been more than fine. However, the Mets need more than that now. After all, the Mets are looking for a catching tandem to take them through what is now a tight NL East race and potentially into the postseason.
Seeing what he did in Double-A, the natural impetus is to renew the calls for Francisco Álvarez. There are many, many good reasons to consider it.
Max Scherzer was impressed with his work behind the plate during his rehab start. There have been more and more people noting the significant improvement he has made. Arguably, the bat is already there, and many Mets fans are looking upon him as being able to have the same type of impact Michael Conforto had in 2015.
None of this should be dismissed outright. It is shouldn’t be dismissed he is right not viewed as the best prospect in the minor leagues. With him, everyone sees a future star, and we have already seen Keith Law of The Athletic drop a Mike Piazza comp on Álvarez with no one thinking it was ridiculous.
That all said, in Triple-A, you see some cause for patience. Over his first five games, he is hitting just .125/.286/.188 with a double and two RBI. He has struck out five times in 21 plate appearances (not bad at all) while drawing two walks.
Yes, this is an extremely small sample size to which no conclusions should be drawn. Rather, we need to use it for perspective.
Álvarez is a 20 year old catcher. He was the youngest player in the Eastern League, and he’s the youngest player in Triple-A. In fact, he’s 6.5 years younger than league average. That will be more pronounced at the Major League level.
That may be a factor why he is not hitting . . . yet. Ultimately, we know he will hit at this level. To that point, just wait for it. It could be a week, month, or in 2023. The Mets don’t know. Whatever the case, they don’t want to rush a player who is not quite hitting yet in Triple-A and then tell him to go out there and hit Major League pitching.
We’ve seen this mistake in the past. The Mets rushed Mike Pelfrey in 2006 because they needed pitching. He wasn’t ready, and you can argue, to a certain extent, it hampered Pelfrey’s development. He became a viable Major League pitcher but nothing more.
We saw the Chicago Cubs do it with Kyle Schwarber in 2015. They needed the bat, so they took him out from behind the plate. Schwarber has hit, but he went from horrendous LF to can’t play first to a DH.
The Mets won’t play Álvarez in the outfield, but rushing him before he is absolutely ready to catch Major League pitching can have negative consequences on a catcher’s career. After all, look at Gary Sanchez‘s career. He went from future superstar to traded to the Minnesota Twins for a Twins salary dump just so Sanchez can be a bad DH.
That’s the Mets current problem. They have a phenom everyone thinks will be an All-Star or more. They see a player who fits a need RIGHT NOW for a team capable of winning a World Series. Yes, if Álvarez is ready, he puts this team over the top, but when he’s not hitting in Triple-A, the risk is too great.
No, the Mets have to hold out for now. At a minimum, let Álvarez get hot in Triple-A, and then, lets have that conversation. Unfortunately, we just cant’ have it right now.
One of the best things Steve Cohen has done in terms of fan engagement is Old Timers’ Day. The New York Mets now have their own history, and we now get the opportunity to celebrate it. Apparently, fans aren’t the only ones eager to celebrate it.
We have seen a number of players eager to return. Already on the docket are a who’s who of Mets greats including Mike Piazza, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Howard Johnson, John Franco, Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Daniel Murphy, Mookie Wilson, and many, many more. Really, Mets players are coming out of the woodwork to try to attend this event.
With every name came more excitement and more fond memories. Then, the Mets announced Jose Reyes was returning.
While the Mets were blowing Game 4 of the 2015 World Series, Reyes was in Hawaii grabbing his wife by the neck and throwing her into glass doors. The altercation was so violent, the hotel would need to call the police, and his wife would need to be taken by ambulance to a local hospital to be treated for her injuries.
The Colorado Rockies (who also had Trevor Story ready) were so appalled they released Reyes. There was a debate whether Reyes would ever play a game again. After all, who in the world would want someone like that on their team? It’s one thing to deal with someone on your roster. It is a whole other to proactively go out and sign that player (or acquire him if you are the New York Yankees and Aroldis Chapman).
Well, frankly, the Mets were cheap morons, and their third base plan for 2016 was David Wright. That lasted until May 27. After that, the Mets were trying to figure it out on the fly. Instead of looking to make a trade, they opted to do the whole dog-and-pony show of trying to rehabilitate Reyes’ image.
Reyes was decent enough, and he had a big homer against the Philadelphia Phillies. The media acquiesced with the Mets demands and wrote the necessary articles (yes, they are 100% complicit) to support the Mets bold move to cheap out and take bad a wife beater. Everyone was so happy the Mets brought Reyes back.
Well, third base wasn’t good enough anymore for Reyes. With Asdrubal Cabrera‘s thumb injury, Reyes pushed his way to short. It was a bad year for Reyes, and it was apparent to the Mets, they needed to pivot. Amed Rosario was called up at the end of the year to be the shortstop of the future, and in the offeseason, they had to sign Todd Frazier to play the third base Reyes no longer wanted to play.
Reyes agreed to be the utility player. Anything to help the team. Again, just talk.
Reyes didn’t really put the time in to succeed in the outfield. He was terrible, and he stopped playing there. Then, the sham of the narrative he was going to mentor Rosario was exposed when he whined to the media about it. This came at a time when the baseball world was wondering if he was done and would soon be ticketed for being designated for assignment. Instead, he was rewarded with more playing time.
Despite the beating of his wife and acting bigger than the organization, he was given a big send-off as part of the Wright festivities. He got to retire as the Mets leadoff hitter and shortstop. He deserved none of this.
After he beat his wife, the Mets had kept throwing him olive branch after olive branch. None were good enough for him. He showed a complete lack of gratitude to this organization. And now, he’s going to be rewarded by being brought back for Old Timers’ Day like he didn’t beat his wife and wasn’t a completely selfish jerk on his way out?
Seriously? This is Wilpon level garbage and has no place in the Steve Cohen era. In reality, Reyes has no business being at Citi Field for Old Timers Day even if he bought his own ticket.
It is readily apparent from a position player standpoint Pete Alonso is Mets fans favorite player. After all, he’s been talked about as a future captain and MVP even if those monikers never really quite fit. It doesn’t matter because he’s adored.
And for very good reason. Alonso has set records, started the LFGM thing, had epic Home Run Derby performances, and has donated portions of his winnings to charities helping veterans. All of the love thrown his way has been more than warranted.
The thing is we’re really about to find out how much Mets fans truly love Alonso.
There was a time being a star or superstar on the Mets meant you were starting the All-Star Game. That was the case in the 1980s with Darryl Strawberry. We saw it again with Mike Piazza and then with Carlos Beltran. Keep in mind, with Beltran, he wasn’t all that beloved, and yet, he was voted a starter in 2005 even when he had his worst year in Flushing leading to the booing.
Things changed a little after that. David Wright never really got the same benefit. In fact, back in 2012, Pablo Sandoval was voted the All-Star Game starter over Wright. Yes, Wright was a deserving All-Star that year, but he would not start.
In fact, Wright only started five All-Star Games, The last one in 2013 took a massive push to get Wright elected in the year Citi Field hosted the All-Star Game. This was at a time when Wright was a superstar playing in the largest market in the world.
There are different reasons why Wright didn’t get the same benefit other Mets did. For starters, the internet ballots changed nearly everything. It really negated the advantage larger markets had in having fans flood the park and voting for their favorites.
Another important factor is the Wilpons and the Madoff Scandal was a massive blow to Mets fans. There was a general depression among the Mets fans, and the earliest dimensions of Citi Field did not help. Getting excited for anything Mets was very difficult to do until Matt Harvey‘s Major League debut. Yes, that had a large part of Wright’s boost in the voting that year.
Keep in mind, Mets fans adored Wright. We did see that in his starting five games, but he should’ve started more. Really, in another day and time, Wright would’ve started more. To a large extent, blame the Wilpons for that.
However, now, we have Steve Cohen. We have an owner who will actually do all he can to make the Mets the best they can be. In many ways, this is like when Nelson Doubleday purchased the Mets in 1980. There is a trust in ownership and palpable excitment among the fanbase.
That should translate to All-Star voting.
Yes, Paul Goldschmidt is having a better year. You can say the same for Freddie Freeman in Los Angeles. Seeing that, you can argue Alonso may need the push from Mets fans to be named the deserving All-Star he is. He should be voted as a starter by this fanbase.
Failing to do so wouldn’t be a failure of the fans at all. Rather, it is just be a dose of reality that Mets fans don’t carry the power they once did. There are many reasons for that, but it would seem like they love of Alonso is there for this fanbase to flex their muscles (while also using them to vote Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo) as starters.
Steve Cohen has brought the Mets back to where they should be. Mets fans now need to be back to who they are. They need to make Alonso the starting first baseman for the All-Star Game.
With the injuries to Jacob deGrom, Tylor Megill, and Max Scherzer, people are understandably taking an all-too early look at the starting pitching trade market. Some of it is an overreaction, but it is understandable when you lose starting pitchers of this caliber, and the Mets are in a position where their next best option is Trevor Williams.
That said, at this time of they year you’re not making blockbuster trades. The one exception is the 1998 Miami Marlins trading Mike Piazza after the Los Angeles Dodgers did something very stupid. So, of course, you call around, but you’re not making huge deals.
All that said, this is a very good time of the year to begin assessing what areas the Mets need to address at the trade deadline. Looking at the roster, it is difficult to come up with any other conclusion than third base is the biggest need the team needs to address.
Part and parcel of the problem is the Mets did not address it in the offseason. Yes, they signed Eduardo Escobar, but he was never a third baseman. We are seeing the impact of that so far this season.
Put the May dry spell aside. Escobar always fades in May only to break out again in June. At the plate. Escobar will be fine in the long run. However, with Escobar the issue has been and will always remain his defense.
Entering this season, Escobar was a -4 OAA at third since 2017. Most of that poor play came last year where he was a -3 OAA. If the belief was more time at third would help Escobar improve, so far, the operating theory has proven false. In fact, Escobar has a -5 OAA. That ranks as the third worst in all of baseball.
Simply put, the Mets need better at third. The problem for this franchise is where exactly are they going to get that better defensive play?
J.D. Davis is actually worse than Escobar in the field, and that’s before you consider he’s not hitting. Luis Guillorme has earned an everyday spot in the lineup, but historically, he’s struggled at third with a -2 OAA. However, it should be noted that since 2020, he’s actually a 1 OAA. That said, having him at third does limit his ability to play second where he’s a wizard.
Jeff McNeil remains the team’s best third baseman; however, the team continues to refuse to play him there. By and large, this is still probably a complete overreaction to his struggles in the pandemic 2020 season which lasted all of nine games. Of course, you could make the argument keeping him at second helps with the agility needed to shift to left field when needed.
Whatever the case, the Mets have built quite the versatile team. The only problem is much of that versatility does not involve having a good defensive third baseman. So far, it hasn’t really cost the Mets, but sooner or later, it will. As a result, the team needs to address this definciency by looking for either a starter or a late inning defensive replacement.
Pitchers will heal. Relievers will continue to emerge. However, the Mets will not just conjure a good defensive third baseman or someone capable of playing it everyday. That is a player the organization needs to proactively seek out at the trade deadline.