The New York Mets did everything they could do to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Everything.
Steve Cohen flew his private jet to meet him in Japan. He hosted him in his home. He also offered him the largest ever contract for a starting pitcher.
12 years. $325 million. Opt out after five years.
Short of hypnosis, the Mets did all they could. They went above where even the New York Yankees were willing to go. They just couldn’t overcome Yamamoto wanting to join Shohei Ohtani.
The Los Angeles Dodgers matched the Mets offer, and now, Yamamoto chose the Dodgers. If the Dodgers didn’t match, or the Mets were given a chance to match, who knows how this ends?
While we can guess, in the end, Yamamoto is a Dodger. Worse yet, the Mets offseason was structured as Yamamoto or bust. The Mets busted.
If the Mets want everyone to forget about the failed Yamamoto pursuit, they could give Pete Alonso an extension. Other than that, the fans will be up in arms over this failed pursuit.
They can also do what they were going to do all along. Cohen waited years for David Stearns, and it’s now time to see what he can do.
Whatever he does, he will be doing it without Yamamoto. Maybe that’s a good thing considering that cost and complete and utter lack of MLB experience.
Yes, that’s sour grapes.
That doesn’t mean the Mets can’t contend. There are still players here. An 84 sim Arizona Diamondbacks team went to the World Series. Just get in, and anything is possible.
That all said, the Mets did all they could. Doesn’t matter. Yamamoto is a Dodger.
If there was anyone who knew what the job entailed, it was Buck Showalter. You are supposed to face the brunt on the criticisms even if they are not of your own doing. You also get credit for things whether or not you deserved it.
In 2022, Showalter was happy to get all of the credit as he won his fourth Manager of the Year Award. He won the award despite his team having an unprecedented late season collapse.
In 2023, things did not go as well. As we saw in the season review on The Athletic, Showalter certainly deserved his fair share of the blame. It painted Showalter as out of touch with a team who didn’t work hard enough and made far too many mental lapses. While that might’ve been the case in 2022, that typically has not been Showalter’s modus operandi throughout his career.
Then again, the Mets are strange. You can thrive with the New York Yankees, but as we saw with Curtis Granderson, it still took a year to adapt to being a Met. For some reason, this team, regardless of ownership, is just a different burden than any other Major League team. With that, we do see people acting out of character, or maybe, their real character coming to light.
Showalter knew things were bad during the season, and that’s why he made a plea to the reporters to help him keep his job. We did see reporters take up the call on multiple occasions, but in the end, they were unsuccessful. Reporters having Showalter’s back is no surprise as he has always had a good relationship with the media, which honestly, was one of the reasons why he was hired in the first place.
With the hiring of David Stearns, it was definitely the end for Showalter, and he would announce his Mets tenure was over before the last game of the season. As a result, we would see Showalter get a tribute from the team and fans.
The team was careful not to trash him either directly or through back channels. They let him end his Mets tenure with their gratitude for the past two years. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for Showalter.
There was the absurd charge from the media that the Mets mishandled the firing. Then, there were reports Pete Alonso wanted to go to Steve Cohen directly to voice his displeasure with the decision. That report was gilding the lily a bit as we know the players on this Mets team loved Showalter.
However, now, we are starting to get into the problematic areas. Mike Puma of the New York Post had an “unnamed source” who said Showalter disagreed with Billy Eppler over Eppler’s insistence that Showalter kept Daniel Vogelbach in the lineup. We know the source was Showalter or someone very close to him, and it is obvious why he used Vogelbach as he was a lightning rod with the fanbase this season.
Much of what was said doesn’t pass the smell test. The argument Showalter viewed DH as a partial rest position runs in opposition to his 22 year managerial career. Showalter always had a DH for most of his career. Just go ask Danny Tartabull, Rafael Palmeiro, Pedro Alvarez, and yes, Vogelbach.
It would also have us believe Showalter was the one who wanted to play the rookies instead of the veterans. Showalter has always been a manager who plays the veterans over the young players. This year is a classic example.
Put aside his starting Vogelbach over Mark Vientos most games. When Vientos was finally in the lineup against a left-handed starter, Showalter would quickly go to his bench to bring in Vogelbach when a right-handed reliever was in the game to face Vientos. Again, this is what Showalter always was.
However, this is all besides the point. Maybe, all of those non-analytically driven lineups were made by the front office and not Showalter. Maybe Showalter really was doing what was told despite it being in direction opposition to the millions of dollars Steve Cohen is pouring into the analytics program.
Perhaps, Eppler was the one to blame here and in other circumstances. That’s not difficult to believe. However, what is difficult to believe is Showalter and his camp would air their dirty laundry after his termination.
Showalter was happy taking credit when it was a 101 win team that garnered him awards. When it was time to take the blame, he asked for the media’s help, and now, he is telling everyone he wasn’t to blame. In retrospect, maybe this isn’t too surprising as Showalter once told Bill Pennington of the New York Times that George Steinbrenner attempted to rehire him right after the Yankees hired Joe Torre.
In the end, Showalter just wants us to know he was great, and nothing was his fault. It was the Mets, who threw him a lifeline back into the game, who were to blame. That same Mets organization has been careful to give him all the credit and none of the blame. In the end, that is what makes Showalter’s behavior all the more unprofessional.
While not specifically called as such, Will Sammon and Tim Britton of The Athletic wrote an autopsy of the 2023 New York Mets season. It was an excellent article with players being more open and honest than usual. It should be noted no one was attacking other players or throwing anyone under the bus.
Keeping that in mind, while reading the article, it became glaringly obvious Buck Showalter was the wrong manager for this 2023 Mets team.
The key quote out of the whole article was Tommy Pham saying, “Out of all the teams I played on, this is the least-hardest working group of position players I’ve ever played with.”
People will run a million different directions on this, but Francisco Lindor and Brandon Nimmo were at least receptive and took it to heart and improved. Notably, we have seen Lindor and Nimmo have big second halves. Putting player reaction aside, this is an indictment on Showalter.
This was the sort of theme with why the season failed. The players weren’t working hard enough. There were miscues. The play was sloppy. The team was doubting themselves. They had a manager who didn’t have the pulse of the team.
When the team was holding player meetings pushing better play and accountability, Showalter had a rah-rah meeting the following day. His players were too comfortable with some being too complacent. There were mistakes, miscues, and as we would see with Max Scherzer unnecessary suspensions.
As noted by one unnamed player in the article, this is the sort of thing that comes into question when you don’t win. However, the Mets didn’t win, which allows these issues to be investigated.
For sure, Showalter isn’t the only reason the season failed. There was blame on the World Baseball Classic not allowing the team to adapt to new rules, but that also wasn’t the reason for the losing. There were the injuries, which were a major reason for the losing early on, and based on Adam Ottavino‘s comments, we saw the Edwin Díaz injury damaged the Mets psyche more than we ever appreciated (again, this is on the manager).
Again, we can point to injuries, but Showalter’s managing was an issue all season. Currently, we are seeing Mark Vientos mashing, but we had to watch Daniel Vogelbach flounder all season long. He was hands-off and being a rah-rah guy when players are talking about needing more accountability from one another.
If you wanted the reasons to look in another direction (Craig Counsell), it was detailed in that article. Keep in mind, this article was not a hit job or even directed at Showalter. However, when you have all that evidence, it is hard to ignore.
Francisco Álavarez‘s presence at the meeting with Pham, Lindor, and Eduardo Escobar about how to turn around the season speaks volumes to how he is viewed by his teammates. We heard stuff like this when he was in the minors, but it was interesting to see him quickly become not just a part of the fabric of the team, but to be a part of these leadership moments.
Fans have long pushed for Pete Alonso to be named captain, but Lindor and Nimmo are the unquestioned leaders of this team.
Alonso really cares, and he puts pressure on himself to succeed. If anything, his going into Showalter’s office is another reason why the Mets should be pushing for an extension.
Pham was great for the Mets, It wasn’t just his production, but it was seeking to hold everyone across the board more accountable. The Mets will be better for years to come because of Pham’s time spent with the team.
It would see Showalter leaned heavily on having Mark Canha, Escobar, and Starling Marte last year on a team full of leaders. With Canha pushed down the depth chart, Escobar traded, and Marte injured all year, Showalter was missing something he needed to have the team run as smoothly as it did last year.
The injuries and struggling to adapt to the new rules was certainly a factor (albeit probably small) in the need to pivot and move to younger players.
It was interesting Pham specifically said he had respect for Lindor and Nimmo and their work ethic with the article immediately going to Jeff McNeil saying “everyone comes ready to play and does what they need to do.” Immediately after that Nimmo says, “Ultimately, a lot of this comes down to individuals and what they’re willing to do.”
This was as interesting an juxtaposition as you can have, and you do have to wonder how purposeful the presentation was.
Mostly, it was injuries that hampered the Mets with the team not having the pitching depth it did in 2022. It will now be incumbent on Billy Eppler to work with David Stearns to make sure a season like 2023 does not happen again.
Earlier in the season, there was a debate amongst New York Mets fans on Mark Vientos. One camp said he’s done nothing in his 2-3 stints in the majors, and as a result, he probably isn’t going to be in the Mets future plans, and/or he’s not going to be a quality Major League player.
The other camp pointed to the sporadic playing time from Buck Showalter serving as an impediment to his being able to have success. At a minimum, the argument was he has to get an extended run to see what he could be. Well, with the Mets being out of it, and Showalter finally acquiescing, Vientos has gotten that extended look, and he has taken off:
Since August 29, Vientos is hitting .307/.349/.581 with a triple, five homers, and nine RBI. On the season, he is averaging an exit velocity of 93.6 MPH. Among players with 100 balls batted in play, Vientos leads the Mets, and he is fifth overall in the majors. (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).
Keep in mind, his strikeout rate has stabilized to a more manageable 27% over this stretch. As Vientos has shown throughout his professional career, he can lower that number with more experience and adjustments.
With Vientos hitting the ball this hard and with this much power, he is earning a spot on the Mets 2024 roster.
For sure, there are going to be some complications. Pete Alonso blocks him at first. The Mets may go get Shohei Ohtani, who could be their DH as they await his return to the mound post Tommy John surgery. That leaves third base for him.
Admittedly, Vientos is the weakest defensive option there, but he has shown progress this season. His -1 OAA is a step in the right direction even if it is a very small sample size. Of note, this is a team with Eric Chavez as a coach, which would have you think he has the perfect mentor to get him up to speed at the position.
Part of the challenge there is Brett Baty is better regarded, but he has done nothing this season to prove he is ready. Moreover, he has been outplayed by Vientos all year.
The next challenge is Ronny Mauricio. With Mauricio, he too is proving he should be part of the Mets 2024 Opening Day roster.
Mauricio has played 16 games, and he is hitting .300/.354/.400 with three doubles, a homer, and seven RBI. He is also a perfect 6/6 in stolen base attempts. Overall, he is showing he is ready for the majors, and he needs to play everyday next season.
Where he plays is up for some debate. He is blocked at short by Francisco Lindor. That leaves second and third. While Jeff McNeil has been the team’s second baseman, he has the versatility to move to the outfield to allow Mauricio to man second.
Of course, there is a thought Mauricio was always best suited for third. That said, Mauricio has looked quite good at second base since the promotion.
He combined with McNeil on a cut off to cut down Jazz Chisholm Jr.trying to stretch a single into a double. He would also impress Keith Hernandez by his standing his ground and releasing a strong throw to turn a double play.
To some degree, it is not so much a matter of preference for where you want Mauricio to play. It is more what is best for the Mets. If Mauricio is playing second well and hitting, they should allow third base to be open for one of Baty or Vientos to play there. At the moment, Vientos has won that job, and he has a whole offseason to improve there.
In the end, Vientos and Mauricio have gotten the opportunity they have pushed for all season. Both are thriving, and they are leading the Mets to play the role of spoilers. They need to be rewarded for it by being penciled in as 2024 Opening Day starters.
Even though it was something that needed to happen months ago, all four of the Baby Mets (there needs to be a better nickname than this) are finally on the roster. When looking at each player, it is difficult to grade them out partially because Buck Showalter hasn’t been too eager to play them, and for some reason, he thinks it is more important to play his older players against the teams fighting for the postseason.
With all the caveats and mind and with some injury issues, now is a good time to take a look at where the Baby Mets stand in their first real season in the Major Leagues:
Stats: .215/.292/.435, 9 2B, 22 HR, 51 RBI
When you look at Álvarez, you see a star in the making. Defensively, he has been phenomenal and has been one of the best framers in all of baseball. He’s been better than advertised, and you see the pitchers praise of him was not all team driven propogranda.
At the plate, he was a middle of the order hitter through July, but his production has completely fallen off. There are reasons for this. First and foremost, he’s never come close to playing these many games, and as a corollary to this, the Mets are playing him more sporadically to combat the fatigue that has set in.
In the end, he looks like a cornerstone player. Don’t let him limping to the end as he’s far surpassed his games played high fool you. We should see him as an All-Star and maybe even the MVP conversation as soon as next season.
Stats: 208/.279/.314. 11 2B, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 2 SB
The short answer is the Mets failed Baty. He should have been on the Opening Day roster. He was called up quickly, and in the beginning, he was terrific hitting ..319/.385/.511 over his first 15 games.
Then, disaster set in. Over his next 71 games, he hit .195/.270/.294. He regressed in every aspect of his game, including his defense where he went from a position OAA to a -4 OAA.
After waiting way too long to demote Baty, he went to Syracuse where he began hitting again. Over 17 games, he hit .246/.329/.493. After that he was promoted back to the majors, where he has hit .143/.172/.143 since the most recent call-up.
Behind the problems are a 27.9 K% and a 49.1 GB%. He’s hit the ball hard at times, but nowhere near at the rate he did in the minors. Moreover, he’s just not barreling the ball up.
Sooner rather than later, the Mets need to figure out the disconnect between the Mets and Syracuse. That applies to both offense and defense. More than that, they need to be less tied down to the notion Baty is the third baseman of the present and maybe even the future.
Stats: .313/.353/.375, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 4 SB
When looking at Mauricio, you have to question why the hell were the Mets keeping him in the minors for so long. The answer is complicated as there were issues with defense away from short, and Mauricio never did develop any plate discipline. There was also a minor ankle injury.
That said, Mauricio has been unfazed by the promotion. In fact, he’s doing what he did in Triple-A, albeit without the same power numbers . . . yet. Keep in mind, in his first at-bat with the Mets, he had the hardest hit ball in team history during the StatCast Era.
He’s looked awkward at second, but he does have a 1 OAA (small sample size alert). On the bases, while he’s sprint speed is rather pedestrian, he’s stealing bases and taking the extra base when he has the chance.
It’s way too soon to try to guess what he is as a player in the long or short term. The only thing we can say is he needed to put up here instead of the likes of Danny Mendick back when the Mets were trying to salvage this season.
Stats: .199/.245/.325, 5 2B, 3B, 4 HR, 13 RBI
Look, the Mets have gone out of their way time and again to let Vientos (and the fans) know how little they value him. In his first call-up, despite a hot start, he was sat because of the whims of Showalter and the need to get Daniel Vogelbach‘s non-producing bat into the lineup.
Like with many young players, he struggled with the limited playing time, and he was eventually sent back down. As a result, he has underperformed, and we still don’t quite know what he can be.
What we do know is he hits the ball very hard, and he shows power to the opposite field. He does have a high strikeout rate. He’s been better than advertised at third even if he’s not really all that good there. He has impressed in limited time at first, but Pete Alonso is there, so forget that.
In the end, one of the biggest mistakes the Mets made in this lost season was not using their time to figure out what Vientos could be. Part of that could be the injured wrist. Most of it was allowing their manager get in the way of what was best for the franchise in the short and long term.
The Mets can do a number of things this offseason, which will forever change the outlook of the roster and this group of young players. That all said, it’s clear Álvarez will be the Opening Day catcher.
At the moment, barring some precipitous drop-off, Mauricio will factor into the Opening Day roster as the team’s everyday second baseman. That will likely push Jeff McNeil to left field.
After that, if the Mets were being smart, it would be a third base competition between Baty and Vientos. If the Mets are being honest, Vientos should be ahead, but it seems they made their mind up two years ago that Baty was the guy. Perhaps, that will all change when the team finally hires a President of Baseball Operations.
The New York Mets delayed it longer than needed, but they eventually called up Ronny Mauricio. So far, he has been electrifying giving a jolt to the team and the fanbase. We saw that in his first at-bat when he hit an unreal 117 MPH double off of Seattle Mariners starter Logan Gilbert:
First career hit
Double for Mauricio pic.twitter.com/zfFV3qrS6f
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) September 1, 2023
That was the hardest hit ball by a Mets player in the Statcast Era. Yes, that was hit harder than anything off the bat of Pete Alonso, That’s how you know how special the power and bat could be for Mauricio. That’s why he’s been getting Alfonso Soriano comps from Keith Law.
On the weekend, his first weekend in the majors, he was 5-for-11 with that double and two strikeouts. He would score a run and would go 2/2 in stolen base attempts. All-in-all, it was better than you possibly could’ve imagined his debut to be.
The question for Mauricio is what is next?
Not to downplay his first few games, but he was characteristically over-aggressive at the plate. When he took a pitch, it appeared more like he was taking all the way rather than his showing any real plate discipline. He did not walk and only had one three ball count.
In the all too early tally, he whiffed on half of the breaking balls he saw. He destroyed the fastball. He hit the ball on the ground a lot.
Defensively, he didn’t look comfortable at second. Again, it’s too early, but per Baseball Savant, he’s a -1 OAA already. It should be noted here his defense was an issue in Syracuse. Already, Buck Showalter said Mauricio will get looks at third and left field.
Being excited as a fan, it looks like Mauricio is here to stay. Maybe, he is. However, we also thought that with Brett Baty, and that has not turned out well this season.
Mauricio is currently riding high after a strong weekend at the plate. That was all the more impressive considering the Mariners pitching staff leads the majors in FIP. Perhaps, he is going to take another leap forward as the Mets are set to play the Washington Nationals, who own the second worst FIP in the majors.
However, at some point, things will get more difficult. The Minnesota Twins (sixth in FIP), Miami Marlins (ninth in FIP), and Philadelphia Phillies (fifth in FIP) have strong pitching staffs. They will also have some video and data on Mauricio allowing them to adjust and pitch him tougher.
Put another way, the league is going to adjust, and we will get to see how Mauricio responds. If he holds his own, the Mets have an important piece of the puzzle for next season. If not, Mauricio is back in limbo. This will make September an important month for the Mets giving fans all the more reason to watch.
When discussing Joey Cora, we need to remember this was a coach who was terminated in-season by a last place Pittsburgh Pirates team. At the time of his firing, he was the worst third base coach in the game.
That really has been no different with the Mets. We’ve seen a number of occasions where Cora has made dumb sends and bad reads. However, you could live with it if Cora was helping the Mets in other areas.
With the demotion of Brett Baty to Triple-A, we see Cora has not been helping the Mets either as a third base or infield coach.
One of the reasons Baty was called up to the majors was his glove was significantly better than Eduardo Escobar‘s. When he first was called up, he was hitting and playing the field well. At one point, Baty was up to a 2 OAA at third.
However, after working with Cora nearly all season long, he dropped to a -6 OAA. Baty went from a very good defender to one of the three worst defensive third baseman in the majors. If this was just a Baty issue, we could move along. However, it goes far deeper than Baty.
When J.D. Davis was with the Mets, he was a horrendous defender with part of that being his outfield play. Cora worked with Davis, and he did not improve in the slightest. However, Davis went to the San Francisco Giants where he has been a very good defensive third baseman.
The year before Buck Showalter took over and brought along Cora, Pete Alonso had made terrific strides at first base. He went from a poor defender to an 8 OAA, which was outstanding growth. Since working with Cora, Alonso has been a -8 OAA.
We did seen Luis Guillorme and Jeff McNeil have very good defensive seasons in what was the last year of the shift. This year, both players have regressed defensively, which is one of many issues which has plagued the Mets this season.
What’s funny is with Baty now in Triple-A, it looks like the Mets aren’t even going to try with Mark Vientos. After Baty was demoted, Vientos was in the lineup as the DH with the Mets putting Danny Mendick at third.
Now, Vientos has long had a reputation as a poor defensive third baseman. The assumption is he will have to wind up at first or DH in the long run (partially because of the presence of Alonso). When Baty was up, it made sense to work on Vientos as a DH.
However, Baty struggled to the point where he had to be demoted in a lost season for the Mets. If we’re being honest, he at least puts into question whether he is truly the third baseman of the future, which should permit the Mets to look in different directions.
That could include Ronny Mauricio, who is stuck in the minors and drowning while he looks for a position other than short. However, that should also include Vientos. You would think having a coach with as much experience as Cora would lead the team to have the duo work very closely between now and the end of the season.
You’d much rather two options at third than potentially none.
Unfortunately, it seems the Mets don’t trust Vientos at third, which is understandable. A corollary to that is the Mets don’t trust Cora making Vientos into a capable third baseman. That, too, is understandable. It’s also another reason why the Mets need to get rid of Cora.
On June 28, Steve Cohen had a press conference to address the New York Mets disappointing season. He let everyone know that while the fans (and some of the media) believed Billy Eppler and Buck Showalter should have been fired for their part in the season, Cohen assured us that is not the way he planned on running the Mets as a business. The money quote was:
I’m a patient guy. Everyone says, “Fire this person, fire that person.” But I don’t see that as a way to operate.
If you want to attract good people to this organization, the worst thing you can do is be impulsive and win the headline for the day. Overall, over time, you’re not going to attract the best talent. You’re not going to want to work for somebody who has a short fuse. Listen, I know fans, they want something to happen. I get it. But sometimes, you can’t do it because you have long-term objectives.
The gist of what Cohen was saying is no one wants to come work for you if you’re going to be impulsive in how you do business. He literally said this is not the best way to attract the best talent to your organization. Now, we’re only led to believe this applied to the GM and manager but not the players.
Justin Verlander started the season on the IL. In his first seven starts with the Mets, he was not great to say the least. He was 2-3 with a 4.85 ERA. He had allowed six runs to the Tampa Bay Rays and Colorado Rockies. Certainly, given his age, you did start to wonder if he was ever going to be anything resembling Verlander.
However, he turned it on and has looked every bit the future Hall of Famer he is. Over his last nine starts, he is 4-2 with a 1.95 ERA. He was flat out dominant over his last three starts allowing two earned over 19 1/3 innings.
While this season was a massive disappointment for the team, Verlander was looking like the ace the Mets hoped they were getting. With that ace in place, the Mets were well positioned to have a contending team in 2024. However, instead, the Mets decided to tear it all down, ad part of that was sending Verlander back to the Astros. They may not want to call it a rebuild or fire sale, but they’re acting like it is.
In fact, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Max Scherzer was informed by Cohen and Eppler the team was now going to focus on contending in 2025 or 2026. Ironically, one of the decision makers for that process was Eppler who failed to build the type of bullpen depth that was needed in 2023 or even in 2022.
Of note, Cohen was fully behind Eppler, the same GM who could not win with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. On Ohtani, Scherzer (as well as the moves this trade deadline) all but confirmed the Met would not be players for perhaps the best free agent to ever hit the market.
Cohen speaks of wanting to attract the best talent, but he’s sending it out the door while keeping the mediocre at best talent at the helm to make franchise altering decisions. Remember, Scherzer and Verlander have won. Eppler never has, and you can start to argue he never will.
We can all have a real conversation about whether this was the right path for the Mets as an organization. Certainly, with the influx of top 100 talent, you could see these moves have the potential to pay dividends ten-fold. After all, the R.A. Dickey was a great trade which helped the Mets, but then again, we also remember Alex Ochoa.
Overall, Cohen is gambling on Eppler getting a lot right when he’s batting below the Mendoza Line for his career as a GM. Cohen has opted to back Epper and Showalter who have never won a thing while sending out the guys who have won and know what it takes to win.
Cohen sold us a vision for organizational stability as a path to getting the people here needed not only to win a World Series, but also to have sustained success. A little over a month later the stability is gone with the future Hall of Famers walking about the door with players like Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo publicly questioning what the direction of the franchise will be.
Cohen has all the money in the world to make the Mets contenders. He did that in 2022, and with some luck, that might’ve been the case in 2023. Certainly, he could’ve and should’ve done that in 2024. Instead, we get Eppler’s vision which failed with the Angels and failed this year.
At the moment, no one should be making a big deal out of beating the New York Yankees. They are without Aaron Judge, and they’re reeling.
Since the Citi Field iteration of the Subway Series, they’re 14-18 dropping to last place in the AL East. Of course, that makes them a much better team than the New York Mets.
Speaking of the Mets, they’ve been nearly unwatchable. There is just so much wrong you don’t even know where to begin. However, on a night where the Mets walloped the Yankees 9-3, you begin to dream again.
In that 9-3 win, you saw exactly what you expected this Mets season to be. It started with Justin Verlander, who was dominant over six shutout innings.
Alonso is red hot at the plate after struggling once he came off the IL. He’s not the only Met heating up with Jeff McNeil’s bat coming to life.
McNeil had a two hit night. He now has a four game hitting streak and has a hit in six of his last eight games. He’s getting closer to being what he would be all this season.
It wasn’t perfect from an offensive standpoint, but there was a lot to like from the offense. That includes scoring two runs off the best bullpen in baseball.
The bullpen wasn’t exactly great. It was one off night for Brooks Raley in an otherwise good season. David Robertson got the Mets out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth, and Adam Ottavino handled the ninth with no problems.
This was the Mets team we expected all season. This had the look of a Mets team who you think could make a miracle run.
After the game, Velander was saying he didn’t want to go anywhere. As a team, the Mets are talking like a team who doesn’t believe their season is over, and Robertson has been rankled by questions over him moving at the deadline.
So, for a night, you can believe the Mets have what it takes to make a miracle run. However, it’s just one night. The Mets have effectively run out of time to make a run before the trade deadline.
It will be interesting to see what the Washington Nationals series brings before the deadline. It’ll be interesting to see what the Mets do. Mostly, whatever team is left, let’s see what the Mets do with an August schedule conducive to making a run.
You knew it was coming. After two good games where Mark Vientos was 3-for-6, he was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
In the top of the eighth, the New York Mets were trailing 6-1 with two on and two out. A big swing would get the Mets back into it.
Naturally, Buck Showalter turned to Daniel Vogelbach with his .361 SLG and all of six homers on the season. To his credit, Vogelbach battled (cue Art Howe) in an 11 pitch at-bat, but ultimately, he struck out like we all expected he would.
Therein lies the problem for the Mets this season, and it’s something that needs to be addressed for now and as the Mets look towards 2024.
Before Vientos was first called up, Vogelbach was hitting .250/.376/.369 with four doubles, two homers, and 13 RBI. This was one of the reasons the Mets felt compelled to call up Vientos.
From May 17 – June 18, both Vientos and Vogelbach were on the roster with Vogelbach getting the majority of the playing tone. Over that stretch, Vogelbach hit .122/.280/.220 with a double, homer, and two RBI. This time frame included the one week stretch where Vogelbach sat for a week to mentally reset and get going again.
Despite Vogelbach regressing, the Mets decided Vientos should go down with Vogelbach “resuming” the primary DH duties. He certainly didn’t improve despite Showalter continuing to lean on him.
In the time Vientos was back in Triple-A, Vogelbach hit .259/.298/.409 with two doubles, two homers, and 11 RBI. As we can see with the declining OBP, Vogelbach has not only stopped hitting, but he has also stopped walking.
All told, Vogelbach is hitting .224/.330/.361 with seven doubles, six homers, and 28 RBI. He has a -0.2 WAR, 93 OPS+, and a 98 wRC+.
For a position where your only job is hitting, Vogelbach isn’t. He’s below average. This season, Major League DHs have a combined 106 wRC+. Vogelbach is behind that mark while simultaneously driving it down.
The same can be said for the Mets. Even with Vogelbach getting the vast majority of starts at DH, the team has been at league average with a 106 wRC+. That means the Mets other options have greatly outperformed Vogelbach.
The caveat is Vientos hasn’t been one of those players outperforming Vogelbach. In his limited and disjointed playing time, he has truly struggled as evidenced by his 41 wRC+ this season.
However, Vientos has been hitting in Triple-A with regular playing time. With Syracuse, he has a 141 wRC+ displaying power only Pete Alonso can match (from a Mets organizational standpoint).
At the moment, the Mets are 46-53. They’re 18.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves and 7.5 games back of the last Wild Card. They’re at a point where they’re looking to sell.
When you look at trade pieces, no one wants Vogelbach. There’s zero reason why the Mets would try to showcase him. It’s over and done, and it’s time to move forward.
That said, there is reason to try to showcase Vientos. He’s blocked at first by Alonso and at third by Brett Baty. That leaves the DH spot for him as the Mets head to an offseason where they plan on heavily pursuing Shohei Ohtani.
If the Mets get Ohtani, that puts them in a spot where they need to start looking to trade Vientos. If Vientos goes on a tear, his trade value increases.
If they don’t get Ohtani, it would look like Vientos is one of the options they should look towards for 2024. Getting him more up to speed with a longer look would give then more of a sense as to whether Vientos should get the job next year.
All told, Vogelbach has hurt the team this year and will not be in the Mets plans next year. The Mets 2024 plans at DH at least partially hinge on Vientos or what the Mets want to do with him.
The team is past the point where they need to make the switch. They need to take Vogelbach away from Showalter and start Vientos at DH the rest of the season.