When Noah Syndergaard left the New York Mets, he thought things would go far different than it has. The further away he has gotten away from the Mets; the further he has gotten away from being Thor.
He thought he was going where he needed to come back from Tommy John when he spurned the Mets to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. His 106 ERA+ wasn’t what he wanted to be, but he was league average.
It led to a trade deadline deal to the eventual pennant winning Philadelphia Phillies. He wasn’t all that great and initially was in the bullpen in the postseason.
In the offseason, he did the smart thing by signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He didn’t perform well, and he spent much of the year dealing with blisters.
The Dodgers were all too happy to dump him on the Cleveland Guardians at the trade deadline. After six starts, the Guardians designated him for assignment.
Look, there’s nothing here to suggest Syndergaard will ever be what we once knew him to be. Going to Baseball Savant, there’s nothing to suggest he’s a good or even capable Major League pitcher now.
That brings us to the Mets.
Carlos Carrasco is making starts every five days (maybe for not much longer). The bullpen also has been a disaster with relievers shuttling back-and-forth from Queens to Syracuse.
You could argue Syndergaard couldn’t be worse than what the Mets have. It’s not an ironclad one (with the exception of Carrasco). Thinking he can resemble the Syndergaard of old is fool’s gold.
The Mets still are in a spot where they’re looking at options for the 2024 pitching staff. They’re also looking for reasons to get fans to the ballpark. Maybe Syndergaard could be an answer to both.
Most likely not.
At this point, the question really is why not? No one is kicking down Syndergaard’s door. The Mets don’t have better waiting. Sure, it’s sappy nostalgia, but that’s at least something.
At this point, just bring back Syndergaard. If nothing else, it’ll be better than watching Carrasco.
This has been about one of the most disappointing New York Mets seasons in a long time. Part of the reason for it was how unexpected the team’s failures have been.
This is the type of season we never expected under Steve Cohen. Unlike with the Wilpons, this really isn’t his fault, and we can expect him to learn from it.
The Wilpons never learned, and some careers were ruined. Two of those careers were Amed Rosario’s and Noah Syndergaard’s. We were reminded of that when the Los Angeles Dodgers traded Syndergaard to the Cleveland Guardians for Rosario.
These were once two young players who were supposed to be part of a young Mets core. The next great Mets run that never happened.
The Mets failings with Rosario have been detailed here previously. His bat wasn’t Major League ready as he never developed enough plate discipline, and it’s held him back his entire career (cautionary tale for Ronny Mauricio).
He was given a mentor in Jose Reyes who was more interested in taking Rosario’s playing time for himself. When his defense wasn’t up to par, they never switched him to another position where he could thrive (like CF).
After all the Mets did to ensure Rosario never reached his immense potential, it’s a minor miracle the Guardians saw enough value in Rosario to make him a significant part of the Francisco Lindor trade.
As for Syndergaard, much of his issues were related to Jeff Wilpon playing doctor. There was the 2017 incident where Syndergaard didn’t get an MRI before exacerbating his last injury.
We can’t know if that incident led to Syndergaard’s future injuries, but it assuredly couldn’t have helped. Of note, Syndergaard’s rehab was rushed to get him back on the mound for some “starts” (read gates) before the end of that season.
Something was wrong with Syndergaard at the end of the 2019 season. Part of it seemed like the Mets forcing Wilson Ramos on him. In reality, it was Syndergaard was hurt.
Syndergaard had a torn UCL, and it was discovered during spring training. Controversially, he’d have Tommy John surgery during the height of the pandemic. Right then and there, his being Thor was over.
The Wilpons were in power during Syndergaard’s Tommy Joh rehab. For some reason, Mets pitchers never handled that rehab well. Syndergaard would be Jeff Wilpon’s last victim.
Syndergaard is now just another pitcher. He’s mentally broken, and not even the Dodgers could resuscitate his career. In fact, the Dodgers traded the injured pitcher away.
Rosario and Syndergaard were supposed to be great Mets who led the team to multiple World Series titles. After the Wilpon led Mets were done with them, they were no more.
Now, they’re bit parts getting traded at the deadline. One, Rosario, becomes a utility player. The other, Syndergaard, was just moved to just get rid of him.
This is a cruel fate for both players. They both should’ve been more. We wanted it for them, they deserved it, and we deserved it. The Wilpons ruined them like everything they touch. It’s cruel.
Top of the ninth. Two outs. 3-2 count. New York Mets trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0. Andrew Chafin throws a good sinker on the outside part of the plate. Francisco Alvarez takes a huge cut, and . . .
FRANCISCO ÁLVAREZ STRIKES AGAIN!
A GAME-TYING HOMER IN THE NINTH! pic.twitter.com/NC2c0aDlFh
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 6, 2023
If you’re a Mets fan, that clutch opposite field homer is so reminiscent of Mets greats like Mike Piazza and David Wright. We’ve seen Alvarez been compared to Piazza, and Alvarez is actually wearing the number Wright always had wanted to wear.
We went through Generation K with Jason Isringhausen, Paul Wilson, and Bill Pulsipher breaking down. That uber rotation has whimpered. Jacob deGrom is with the Texas Rangers, and he needs a second Tommy John. Noah Syndergaard is with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he says he will give away his first born to be Thor again.
Zack Wheeler is with the Philadelphia Phillies, and Steven Matz‘s career is falling apart with the St. Lois Cardinals. Matt Harvey, who was supposed to be the best of them all, retired after the injuries and the off-the-field problems.
The Mets tales with the can’t miss prospect doesn’t typically end well. We need not look any further than Wright, whose path the to the Hall of Fame was derailed by spinal stenosis.
Despite the past, Alvarez feels different. In fact, he is different than just about any prospect. Seriously, you have to go all the way back to Johnny Bench to find a catcher who has been great on both sides of the ball the way Alvarez has been.
Right now, Alvarez is doing it all. Per Baseball Savant, he’s tied for sixth best in baseball in framing. He’s ninth in baseball in blocking balls in the dirt. Overall, he’s a terrific defensive catcher.
Francisco Alvarez with a nice catch! pic.twitter.com/6le6sD75F1
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) July 7, 2023
In addition to the defense is the bat, more specifically, the power. At the moment, he leads all major league catchers in homers. As we see with him, when they come, they come in bunches. In fact, he homered in all three games of the sweep of the Diamondbacks.
At the moment, he’s seventh among all major league catchers in fWAR (fourth in the NL). Since May 1, around the time when he took over being the everyday catcher, he ranks fifth overall.
However, in the end, it is not really about the award. Rather, with Alvarez, we see greatness. We see Gary Carter with more power, or Piazza with the ability to throw out base runners. At the moment, the sky is the limit for him.
Maybe this recent Mets run gets them back in the Wild Card race. It probably doesn’t. No matter what happens there, it is still not a lost season. The reason is because Alvarez is emerging as a real star in this league, and we see the next great Met emerging.
The New York Mets did what they did all season. They followed inexplicably dropping consecutive series to the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies by sweeping the Philadelphia Phillies at home. At this point, the unexpected has become the expected.
Putting the consistent inconsistency aside, we are starting to see some very positive signs emerge. More than anything, we should be focusing on that rather than the day-to-day results. After all, if certain things are working well for the Mets, the wins are going to come.
First and foremost, the rotation is starting to look like what we hoped it would be. Over his last four starts, Max Scherzer is 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA while striking out 28 and walking just four over 25 innings.
Kodai Senga has become unhittable at home. In his five Citi Field starts, he is 3-1 with a 1.20 ERA, 0.933 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, and an incredible 11.4 K/9. As we saw with Noah Syndergaard‘s rookie year, the home/road splits will eventually translate to Senga being able to be a great pitcher on the road. It just takes a little time.
With the exception of his Coors Field start and the start against the Tampa Bay Rays, Justin Verlander has largely been good. We also see José Quintana is on a path to get back on the mound. Overall, that’s four strong starters that becomes five with Carlos Carrasco pitching 6+ innings while allowing just one earned in each of his last two starts.
Offensively, Pete Alonso is chasing 60 and looks primed to be the first non-steroid National League player to hit that mark. Francisco Álvarez has been great at the plate and may be better defensively. Brandon Nimmo is having an All-Star caliber season (again).
Francisco Lindor is playing Gold Glove defense and has been hitting for power. We also have to remember with his struggles he’s a second half hitter. Jeff McNeil has struggled, but he too is at a point in the season where he usually takes off.
Where things are really promising is the older core from last season finding their games again. Since May 9, Starling Marte is hitting .288/.342/.356 and has stolen 16 bases this season. Since May 14, Mark Canha is hitting 333/.442/.556. Eduardo Escobar has thrived in a part-time role hitting .400/.442/.700 since April 20.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been any issues. Brett Baty is struggling at the plate hitting .200/.286/.400 since May 14, but he continues to play good defense with a 1 OAA. Since May 1, Daniel Vogelbach is hitting .170/.310/.254. With both to those players struggling, it is strange to see how infrequently Mark Vientos plays.
The bullpen doesn’t go that deep, but David Robertson has been a great anchor. You can rely on Drew Smith to be a bridge. However, Brooks Raley and Adam Ottavino are too important to be as shaky as they are.
That brings us to the Mets biggest issue – Buck Showalter. He’s managing like it’s 1988, and he does bizarre things like ignoring the numbers, batting Álvarez ninth, and shoe-horning Vogelbach into the lineup. He’s just never playing Vientos at this point treating him as a strict platoon player.
However, despite Buck (yes, despite him), the Mets are 30-27 just 3.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are 9-13 over their last 22 games. It’s allowed the Mets to get back into the NL East race.
The Mets are also currently the second Wild Card. They’re trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks/Los Angeles Dodgers by four games, but they have a one game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins, who are currently tied for the last Wild Card spot.
Of course, the standings right now don’t mean anything. We can just pinpoint the Mets last two seasons to illustrate that point. Rather, it just shows the Mets are in a great position to make a run. With the starting pitching emerging, their top hitters slugging, and the rest of the roster ready to break out, the Mets are poised to have a great summer, and hopefully, an even better October.
Perhaps, it should not have come as a surprise. After all, Matt Harvey wasn’t Matt Harvey anymore. There was a long suspension looming, and there was the stain of the Tyler Skaggs trial, but you just hoped there would be just one more act in Matt Harvey’s career.
Sadly, there will not be as Harvey announced his retirement on Instagram. With that ends a career which meant a lot to Mets fans.
People forget what it was like to be a Mets fan in 2012. The Wilpons were broke, and the last player they signed before they were officially tied up in the Madoff Scandal was Jason Bay.
Citi Field back then was a massive disappointment. There was no honoring Mets history. The depth of the outfield walls were a joke. It seemed like the Wilpons wanted it to be more Brooklyn Dodger than New York Mets. In fact, it was so bad they eliminated Dwight Gooden‘s improptu signature from inside the stadium.
Then, late in 2012, Harvey pitched in Arizona. He set a Mets record striking out 11 in his Major League debut. He gave us a glimpse of how good he could be. He started to give Mets fans hope.
Then, 2013 happened. It was a season that rarely comes along. From his first start of the season, you could tell this was going to be something special. While it didn’t culminate in a Cy Young, it was one of the more special seasons in Mets history.
There was the “Harvey’s Better!” chants when he pitched against Stephen Strasburg. He almost had the perfect game against the Chicago White Sox. There was the blood coming from his nose. The Cholula hot sauce meter with Harvey topping 100 MPH with his fastball.
Matt Harvey on the "Harvey's Better" chants from April 19, 2013:
"That day will forever stay in my dreams. I know I pitched well and we were on our way to a win, and as I'm sitting in the dugout, all I hear is the chants overtaking Citi Field…I never wanted it to end." pic.twitter.com/Skx6wMj6HU
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 5, 2023
He started the All-Star Game over Clayton Kershaw, who might’ve been at the peak of his abilities. The Mets were hosting the All-Star Game, and Harvey, our ace, was starting. This was almost unfathomable.
Sure, we were going overboard with the Tom Seaver comparisons, but could you blame us? We could tell greatness when we saw it, and Harvey was great. Sadly, he would be more Gooden than Seaver.
Because it’s the Mets, Harvey torn his UCL that magical 2013 season, and he was shut down until 2015. Little did we know then, but that 2015 season would effectively be the end of Harvey’s career.
Harvey started out great, and the Mets were trying to ease the workload because the team was better than they anticipated. Harvey hated the six man rotation, and Scott Boras hated the innings on Harvey’s arm. Harvey was caught in the middle.
The Mets definitively reneged on their promises. Mets created some theater with David Wright sitting down and talking to him all game long (because that’s how players really handle things – talking in the dugout and not in the clubhouse or away from the field). Harvey was a deer in the headlights who did mishandle things a bit.
In the end, Harvey pitched, and he would throw more innings post Tommy John than anyone before him. He won a pivotal Game 3 against the Dodgers in the NLDS. He was GREAT in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs setting the tone for the would be sweep.
It was the great Harvey game we don’t talk about as much. He really set a tone for a Mets team who was surging. Of course, we know why it was overlooked. It was overlooked because of Game 5 of the World Series.
While the Mets were down 3-1, you could still believe they had a chance. After all, momentum in baseball was your next day’s starting pitcher. For the Mets that was Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. First, there was Harvey, and he was everything the Mets needed him to be that night.
He shut out the Kansas City Royals over eight innings striking out nine. That’s where your head and your heart come into conflict. Your head said go to Jeurys Familia. Terry Collins followed his heart and sent Harvey back out there. After all, he was pitching like an ace, and he sent his ace to finish what he started.
It’s September 27th. Matt Harvey is through eight scoreless and begs Brandon Hyde to finish the game. Camden Yards erupts as he takes the mound. This time he gets it done. Orioles win 1-0 thanks to a Ryan Mountcastle homer. Baltimore takes 4th place pic.twitter.com/WH8EjoW9cP https://t.co/fzHdA4Ym7O
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) February 13, 2021
Citi Field was raucous after he took the mound. It’s about as loud as that ballpark ever got. We know it didn’t end well for him, and part of that was Collins not knowing when to pull him. Sadly, in many ways, that game was a microcosm of Harvey’s career.
Greatness was there for the taking for Harvey, but he could never complete it. There were rumblings back then, especially when Harvey didn’t show up for workouts. As we discovered, Harvey had a drug problem.
We finally knew that for sure with the Skaggs trial. It’s why the Mets had to begrudgingly designate him for assignment and trade him. It’s why he was bad with the Los Angeles Angels. It’s part of the reason his career is over.
That didn’t cause the TOS. In the end, the TOS was why he could never get it back. However, in the end, it was the looming suspension and the after effects of the trial that precipitated this retirement.
Fortunately, Harvey did have one last hurrah pitching for Italy int he World Baseball Classic. He was the ace for the surprise team of the tournament. He was the most pleasant surprise for sure. You had hoped it would lead to one last chance for him.
We now know it won’t come. He won’t have the redemption story Gooden and Darryl Strawberry had, at least not in the majors. However, that doesn’t change how great he was or his impact on the Mets.
Harvey is forever a part of Mets lore. He was an important figure who gave us hope when there was no reason to have any. He helped bring the Mets back to relevance. Mets fans know that and loved him for that, and that’s why he got a standing ovation the last time he pitched at Citi Field.
Hopefully, Harvey is at peace with his decision. Hopefully, there is more for him to do in baseball. Hopefully, he understands how much Mets fans will forever love him and how appreciative we are for what he did.
It’s a sad moment for Mets fans. The hope is that it’s not a sad moment for Harvey. The hope is that it’s a new beginning for him.
For the New York Mets 60th season, I made 60 bold predictions heading into the season. The concept is to really go for it instead of being meek and saying Francisco Lindor will play the most games at short, or Pete Alonso will lead the team in homers. It was to be daring. Some hit, and some did not. In any event, here are 61 for this year as this is the 61st season:
1. The New York Mets will win the 2023 World Series.
2. The Mets will be the third best team in the division during the regular season.
3. David Peterson will have more starts this season than any other Mets starter.
4. Kodai Senga will be an All-Star.
6. By the middle of June, Brett Baty will be called up, and he will overtake the Mets third base job for the next decade.
7. The Mets will have more blown saves by the All-Star Break than Edwin Díaz had all of last season.
8. The Mets are going to find a way to get Alexis Díaz this season. When they get him, Steve Cohen will speak about just how important family is and how that was a motivating factor in getting Díaz.
9. Part of the Díaz deal will be Joey Votto going to the Mets. The lifelong Red will be excited because he is getting a chance to win, and the Reds will be excited because it clears a massive chunk of payroll. Votto will take over as the Mets DH.
10. Ronny Mauricio is going to be moved this year as the big prospect to get a big piece or two at the trade deadline.
12. We will see Álvarez get called up multiple times, but he is not going to stick on the roster until September.
13. The Mets will not need a closer at the trade deadline, but they will need an outfielder. They will still get at least one reliever at the deadline.
16. The Mets will announce a date where they are going to retire Carlos Beltrán‘s number 15.
17. The pitch clock is going to be a hit with the fans, but we are going to see multiple issues early in the season where games are swung on its implementation leading to player and that fanbase’s frustration.
19. The Mets are going to have a tough first half with many wondering if the team was too old or if this is a reincarnation of the 1992 Worst Team Money Could Buy. The Mets will shut everyone up with a great second half.
20. The rule changes will rejuvenate Keith Hernandez, who will come to enjoy the modern game more than any particular fan.
21. Brandon Nimmo will be a first time All-Star. He will be joined there by Lindor, McNeil, Senga, and Verlander.
22. Pete Alonso returns to the Home Run Derby, and he wins it again.
24. Eduardo Escobar loses his starting third base job, but he will still serve as an important semi-regular on the roster.
25. Lindor will be the only Mets player to win a Gold Glove this season. Guillorme and McNeil will be finalists.
26. Starling Marte will play fewer than 100 games, but he will be healthy for the postseason and will be one of the best Mets in the postseason.
27. Dylan Bundy will be added to the Major League roster at some point during the season, and he will stick in the bullpen at some point.
28. McNeil and Lindor will each finish in the top five in MVP voting with McNeil winning the award.
29. J.D. Davis will get out to a good start leading for Mets fans to further complain about the Darin Ruf trade, but Davis will cool off considerably thereafter with no one saying much of anything past May.
30. This will be Eric Chávez‘s last season as a coach with the Mets as he will be the hot candidate for managerial jobs in the offseason.
31. Meet Joey Meneses, who will be the newest Mets killer.
32. Scherzer is going to have a better season than Verlander.
33. Verlander will have zero issues adjusting to New York.
34. Lindor is going to play in every single Mets game this season.
35. The Mets will aggressively pursue David Bednar and Bryan Reynolds, but the stingy Pittsburgh Pirates owner will not make a deal with Steve Cohen on principle based on this spending the last offseason.
36. When he returns from the IL, Mets fans are going to fall in love with Bryce Montes de Oca, and we will see him get at least a down ballot Rookie of the Year vote.
37. Shohei Ohtani will not be traded this year no matter how hard the Mets try to get him. Part of the reason will be the Los Angeles Angels contending for the last Wild Card spot.
38. Noah Syndergaard will actually start against the Mets when the Los Angeles Dodgers visit Citi Field in April. He will get a loud ovation as he takes the mound.
40. Alonso will appear in more games at DH than any other right-handed batter as Buck Showalter tries to keep him fresher than he did last season.
41. While there will be calls for a closer-by-committee approach, Showalter is going to go with David Robertson as the closer to begin the season, and he will carry the role at least through the All-Star Break.
42. Buck Showalter will not be the NL Manager of the Year, and he will not finish in the top five in voting.
44. Jose Butto will be up-and-down a few times this season being designated at that prospect who comes up one week for a spot start and another week to hang out in the bullpen. He is going to struggle, and there will be more people calling him a non-prospect.
45. While it will be an exhausting story line, Verlander will win a World Series start, and he will be dominant.
46. Despite his World Baseball Classic success, no team will sign Matt Harvey this season with his pending suspension being part of the reason.
48. Pride Night is scheduled for June 16. The Mets will force Raley to wear whatever gear is mandated that day by Major League Baseball.
49. Lindor is and will continue to be the best shortstop in baseball. Yes, that means he will have a better season than Trea Turner.
50. We will see Mark Vientos at some point this season but only for a limited time as the Mets are going to struggle to find spots for him even with Vientos having a monster year with Syracuse.
51. This will be the last season the 1962 Mets have the record for most losses in a season. The bottom feeders of baseball are just that bad this season.
52. Nimmo wins his first Silver Slugger this season.
53. The Mets will have a day honoring the New York Rangers after the Rangers win the Stanley Cup with Mets fan Adam Fox throwing out the first pitch.
55. Kevin Parada will play in Double-A this season, and we will start to hear some wonder if it is him or Álvarez as the Mets catcher of the future.
56. Nimmo is going to steal 20+ bases this season.
57. Escobar will continue his streak of 20+ home run seasons.
58. One development from the pitch clock is Citi Field will begin to have all of their concession stands handle pre-order and pick up as fans are not going to have as many delays and will not want to miss game action.
59. There will be some celebration at Citi Field this season for the 40th anniversary of the 1973 pennant winning team. It will likely be tied into Old Timers’ Day.
60. The Mets will have multiple events throughout the year giving rewards to Mets fans for wearing their caps out in public as a continued attempt to get them more attention than the Yankees.
61. This will be the first time New York holds a Stanley Cup and World Series title since 1928.
Noah Syndergaard left the New York Mets for good reasons. Those reasons included whether he believed he could handle pitching in New York with diminished velocity.
The answer was he wasn’t anywhere close to being Syndergaard. Better yet, he wasn’t Thor. Nowhere close.
Syndergaard was once known for the ability to ramp it up to 100 MPH. Instead, post Tommy John, he was throwing 94 MPH with his slider velocity similarly diminished.
What’s interesting is he did have a slight dip in velocity from April through the 2022 season. That may be an indication he’s still working his way back physically. Perhaps, there’s a couple more MPH in his right arm.
With Syndergaard, that’s the intrigue. We’ve seen it from him previously. Whoever signs him is partially betting on the ability to get Syndergaard closer to the pitcher he was.
On that front, the Mets have Jeremy Hefner. Hefner has built his reputation as an excellent pitching coach. We’ve already seen how his ability to hone mechanics helped Edwin Díaz have a phenomenal season.
Maybe it’s a mechanical issue with Syndergaard. It’s possible he just needs to rebuild arm strength. Likely, it’s a combination of the two. Again, that’s why the Mets have Hefner.
It’s also possible this is who Syndergaard is now. If that is the case, Syndergaard is still intriguing.
Looking at the 2022 numbers, he struggles getting going in the first inning. He starts to lose his control the third time through the lineup. After 100 pitches, opposing batters start hitting him very hard.
This turned Syndergaard into a five and fly guy. The Philadelphia Phillies gave him a very short leash in the postseason. He was just another fifth starter to them.
In some ways, this makes him similar to what the Mets had with Carlos Carrasco. When he returned from injury in 2021, he struggled mightily, especially in that first inning.
In 2022, it was a different story. He was still at his worst in the first, but he was better able to navigate it. Even having the same limitations as Syndergaard, he still won 15 games with a respectable 3.53 FIP.
That’s what we’ve seen with Hefner as pitching coach. If there’s something there, he’s going to help that pitcher find it. With Syndergaard, there is something there.
Per Baseball Savant, Syndergaard still limited hard contact. He also had good control with a low walk rate. Part of the reason for that is Syndergaard’s extension.
We saw Syndergaard slower to the plate this year and taking more time between pitches. Perhaps, that was a confidence issue. Maybe, he was just trying to figure it out. Whatever the case, the pitch clock promises to get him working quicker pushing him towards being more of himself.
Another thing of note is Syndergaard generated a number of ground balls with his sinker/slider combination. He’d benefit from having Francisco Lindor up the middle. A better defense can make a better pitcher.
All told, there’s enough there to talk you into Syndergaard. That’s even before following Zack Wheeler’s rocky return from Tommy John where he threw 94.8 MPH in 2017 and 96.8 two years later.
The 100 MPH may be forever gone, but in all likelihood, there’s another tick or two in that fastball (and slider). Thor is still deep down somewhere in there.
There’s definite risk with Syndergaard, but it’s probably not going to be cost prohibitive to take that risk. That’s a factor for the Mets who are looking to bring back Jacob deGrom and Brandon Nimmo while rebuilding an entire pitching staff.
For the Mets, maybe Syndergaard is worth the gamble. Maybe Hefner is that good. Maybe Syndergaard as a fifth starter can help manufacture pitching depth by forcing Tylor Megill and David Peterson to Syracuse to start the year.
In all likelihood, this probably won’t happen, and certainly, the Mets should pursue other angles first. Syndergaard may not want to return, and the Mets may have no interest in bringing him back. That said, things get weird in the offseason, and at some point, it could make sense for the two to reunite.
In the end, there may be something there with Syndergaard, and the Mets finally have the type of organization which can unlock it. We will see if that will happen.
The minute Jacob deGrom exercised his opt out was the exact minute anything could happen. At some point, a team could unexpectedly swoop in and offer him a deal to steal him right out from under the New York Mets.
Case-in-point: no one expected the Los Angeles Angels to sign Noah Syndergaard after the Mets offered him a qualifying offer. However, it happened, and Syndergaard is gone. There are some who expect the same will happen with deGrom.
From Jon Heyman, "Folks who have spoken to the Mets lately opine that they believe deGrom seems pretty likely to leave."
— Metsmerized Online (@Metsmerized) November 8, 2022
There are some who expect him to go to the Texas Rangers. There are some believing the San Diego Padres may be suitors. You can never count out the Los Angeles Dodgers or Boston Red Sox. There are reports the Atlanta Braves want to make a run (this doesn’t pass the smell test after they let Freddie Freeman go for less than deGrom will cost).
When you look around, there aren’t many people who expect deGrom to return to the Mets. Well, that is except for the people who know deGrom best. We have heard Chris Bassitt, Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler say they expect deGrom to say. They say he’s happy with the Mets and only wants a fair market deal.
When deGrom signed his initial extension, he spoke about how he wanted to be a Met for life like his friend David Wright. We have heard exactly nothing that would have us believe deGrom has changed his mind on that. Really, all we have is conjecture from people that they believe deGrom might go.
If it comes down to money, well, the Mets have Steve Cohen.
Cohen was the same man who gave Francisco Lindor $1 million more than Fernando Tatis Jr. to get him to sign a contract extension. He have Edwin Diaz the largest ever deal for a reliever to get him to stay. He handed out the largest average annual value to Max Scherzer to get him to come to the Mets. Now, all of a sudden, he’s going to let deGrom walk over money?
If Cohen has shown us anything, he’s not going to necessarily let money stand in the way. He knows great players need to get paid, and that great players deserve more than their “value.” Mostly, Cohen understands deGrom is Mets royalty, and Cohen respects Mets history.
Cohen brought back Old Timers’ Day. Keith Hernandez and Willie Mays had their numbers retired. Former players like Ray Knight talk about how they loved the Mets, hated, the Wilpons, and now, feel more welcomed to return to the ballpark.
Cohen was also a Mets fan when Tom Seaver was traded. While not on the same level, deGrom is this generation’s Seaver. Arguably, deGrom is the second greatest Met of all-time. He could be their next Hall of Famer (depending on what happens with Carlos Beltran), and he could have his number retired by the Mets one day.
Does Cohen want to be the owner who let deGrom leave over money? Does he want to see deGrom leave on his watch? The answers should likely be no.
Another thing here is Cohen has cited the Los Angeles Dodgers as the model he wants to follow. Well, time and again, even with the injuries, the Dodgers have found a way to keep Clayton Kershaw, even with all of his injuries.
The Dodgers have understood for true franchise greats and Hall of Famers the typical rules don’t apply. You take care of those players because they’re a part of the fabric of your organization. Another important factor is when the Dodgers deal with Kershaw the entire baseball world is watching.
It’s the same with the Mets. Everyone wants to see how the Mets handle their first homegrown future Hall of Famer to hit free agency.
How he’s treated impacts whether other players want to play for the Mets or stay with the team. It’ll impact agents handling extensions. Again, there is a real impact.
Through all of it, we’re left with the simple fact Jacob deGrom wants to be a Met for life, and Steve Cohen has the ability to make it happen. If this is all truly the case, there are no excuses for not getting a deal done.
This was not the Noah Syndergaard New York Mets fans had come to know and love. Since the postseason started, and we really got to see Syndergaard again, this is not the man we once knew as Thor.
There are some reasons for that. For starters, after his Tommy John surgery, Syndergaard is throwing 95 MPH and under instead of his 100 MPH fastballs. He’s mixing up his pitchers more instead of using his sheer brawn and will to dominate opposing batters. To a certain extent, he seems far more mellow.
This isn’t the pitcher who announced himself to the world by buzzing Alcides Escobar and telling all of baseball he’s 60’6″ away. He’s also not the guy who tried to deliver a message (not really) to Chase Utley to protect Ruben Tejada who was long gone. Instead, now, he’s become a version of Ronald McDonald with his love letter to Utley.
Instead, now, Syndergaard says he wanted to catch the first pitch thrown by Utley at the World Series. As he would tell Tim Healey of Newsday, “I’ve always admired the way he’s played the game. He’s a tremendous talent and I’m glad to be able to put on the same uniform as him.” Again, this is not the Syndergaard we knew from his seven years with the Mets.
He’s not out there trolling the Phillie Phanatic. He’s not being bombastic in any way. His Twitter is much quieter than it used to be. He doesn’t quite have the same arm. Overall, this is a completely different person.
Perhaps, part of the reason why is we never really knew Syndergaard. In August, Syndergaard admitted he personally struggled with the “New York energy” saying, “That energy that can make New York so great and positive can also bite you in the butt a little bit, especially with what I’m going through right now, a dip in velocity. I’m still trying to rely on location, mixing things up. I felt like if I was doing that playing here, everything would just be highlighted.” (Zach Braziller, New York Post).
On that, Syndergaard isn’t really wrong. When he missed two starts against the Mets, fans noticed and mocked him. Maybe it was injury. Maybe he just couldn’t handle facing the team and former teammates he loved. We don’t know, and as we have seen over the past year with Syndergaard, we never really knew him like we thought we did. Then again, we never really know any of these professional athletes.
Certainly, we did not know the Syndergaard from Game 5 of the World Series. He pitched at a diminished velocity and took the loss after allowing two earned over 3+ innings. Again, this was not the guy who was great in the 2015 postseason and out-pitched Madison Bumgarner over seven innings in the 2016 Wild Card Game.
This is now a humble person with diminished velocity. The man who loved the big stage admits he wasn’t keen on returning to it. That said, he’s still out there pitching in a big market.
Who knows where Syndergaard goes from here? Maybe it is back with the Mets even though his leaving was messy. Maybe he regains his velocity. Perhaps, he finds his way to the bullpen. Whatever the case, we are seeing a different pitcher and person than the one we once knew, or better yet, thought we knew. In the end, all we can do is wish him luck and happiness as he tries to reclaim part of what once made him a great pitcher with the Mets.
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.