Back in 1998, Nelson Doubleday went down the hall and told Fred Wilpon the New York Mets were going to go out and get Mike Piazza. When Wilpon brought up the injured Todd Hundley (lost for most of that year), Doubleday said they were getting Piazza.
That was the way it was with Doubleday. He made sure the Mets went out and got the best players. He was in charge when they got Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. Sure, it led to disaster with Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman, Eddie Murray, and Bret Saberhagen, but the team was always trying to bring in the best players.
Being fair to the Wilpons here, they did learn their lesson after they let Mike Hampton walk in free agency, and the team refused to go out and get Alex Rodriguez. When that 2000 pennant winner blew up with those decisions, they went out and got Omar Minaya and pivoted.
When Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez were free agents, Minaya made sure they were Mets. Then, the Madoff scandal happened, and the Mets would not bet the Mets again until Steve Cohen took over the franchise.
When the Wilpons were faced with having to sell, they hired Brodie Van Wagenen to completely mortgage the future and try to win one last World Series before they had to hand the franchise to someone else. Their big move and big salary they took on was Robinson Cano.
That was partially because Cano wanted to come back to New York, and Van Wagenen was doing a favor to his former client. It also helped the Seattle Mariners were eating money on the contract regardless of whether or not Cano was eligible to play.
That same offseason, Bryce Harper was a free agent. Harper was a player who belonged on the biggest stage. Harper loved the Mets pitching and was highly complimentary of them during the 2018 All-Star Game:
For a player that wanted to win, the Mets would have been in the conversation if the team pursued him. Instead, the Mets were set with Cano, and then they tried to sell us having no $30 million players is the same thing as having two.
With that, Harper went to the Philadelphia Phillies with him really having no other realistic suitors. Since that time, he has won the 2021 NL MVP and 2022 NLCS MVP. He has completely altered the trajectory of the Phillies franchise who is in consecutive NLCSs.
Helping Harper and the Phillies get there is Zack Wheeler. Van Wagenen tried to sell us they replaced Wheeler in the rotation with Marcus Stroman despite both pitching in the same rotation in 2019. He then went on to tell everyone Wheeler was only good for two halves of his entire career despite his being the best free agent starter on the market.
Wheeler asked the Mets to stay after he was almost traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. He asked to stay for less when he hit free agency. He didn’t want to uproot his New Jersey family making it between the Mets and Phillies for him. The Mets didn’t want him. Instead, we got Rick Porcello.
Wheeler has been a Cy Young caliber pitcher with the Phillies. He has been a postseason ace. With Harper, he has the Phillies back in the NLCS.
This never should have happened. This was Wilpon and Van Wagenen incompetence. Fortunately now, the Mets have an owner that is not going to let this type of nonsense happen again.
What matters is the Mets needed to get at least one of them, and they did that. They signed the future Hall of Famer and reigning American League Cy Young winner.
An interest note here is there are three pitchers in Major League history to win the Rookie of the Year and two Cy Youngs – Tom Seaver, deGrom, and Velander. Seaver and Verlander have three Cy Youngs, and deGrom won the award in consecutive seasons.
All three are Mets.
The fact the Mets followed deGrom by giving Verlander the highest AAV for a player is something that didn’t happen here. The fact it came the year after the Mets did the same with Max Scherzer never would’ve been contemplated.
The only objective is winning, and the Mets will now spend to do it. Verlander epitomizes who the franchise is now.
Verlander returned from Tommy John and was Verlander. He led the AL in wins, ERA, WHIP, ERA+, and hits per nine. That’s why he won a Cy Young.
Yes, the strikeouts were down and was the velocity. However, the spin is still there, and he’s still limiting hard contact and barrels.
In some ways, that answers the question we always had about Verlander. What would he be when his velocity dipped? The answer is the best pitcher in the AL.
The next questions doesn’t have an easy answer. How will he handle the 2022 workload? Also, how will he be in his age 40 season?
Looking at Scherzer, he was great, but he was also more injury prone. To some degree, that might’ve cost him and the Mets the World Series.
Then again, just having Scherzer made the Mets a great team who won 101 games. Verlander promises to do the same for this team in 2023. That goes double with the Mets having Scherzer and Verlander.
As an interesting aside, Scherzer and Verlander were in the same rotation for the Detroit Tigers from 2010 – 2014. They Ron the division four straight years winning a pennant.
This is in play for the Mets. They have co-aces who can help the Mets take the next step. Last year, it was the Wild Card Series. Next year, we will see how far they can go.
This is possible because the Mets pivoted after losing deGrom to sign Verlander. They replaced one future Hall of Famer with another. They showed they will continue to do what is necessary to win.
The Mets needed Verlander and signed him. It’s a great day to be a Mets fan.
The Philadelphia Phillies won Game 1 of the NLCS against the San Diego Padres. They’re now three games away from the World Series.
This is as unexpected a run as you could imagine. First and foremost, one year ago, the Phillies would not be in the postseason. However, with the expansion of the postseason under the new CBA, the Phillies made it, and they’ve made the most of their opportunity.
They also took full advantage of the opportunities presented to them by Brodie Van Wagenen’s ineptitude.
When Van Wagenen was hired by the Mets, Bryce Harper was hitting free agency. Due to a multitude of factors, his market wasn’t as bullish as it nearly should’ve been.
Harper was always complimentary of the Mets pitching staff. He was a player who wanted a large market, and he liked what the Mets had. He could have been a missing piece which took them to another level.
Instead, Van Wagenen opted to trade for his former client Robinson Canó. He fulfilled his client’s wishes and brought him back to New York.
Cano came with a $24 million AAV. For the Mets, that was $20.25 million. Harper signed with the Phillies for a $25 million AAV. In terms of overall AAV, Harper was only making one million more per season.
Now, Harper wasn’t a guarantee for the Mets, especially with the Wilpons. However, this illustrates how the Mets opted to allocate their money.
Cano had a second PED suspension last year while Harper was the NL MVP. This year, Harper was an all-star while Cano was playing his way out of the league. Harper homered in Game 1 of the NLCS giving Zack Wheeler all the run support he needed.
He thought Wheeler only had two good halves with the Mets. His player valuation model which said to get Cano determined Wheeler was going to be overpaid.
Wheeler turned down more lucrative offers to stay local. He wanted to be a Met. He settled on the Phillies at a discount. The Mets just walked away from Wheeler to purposefully get worse.
Since that time, Wheeler was a Cy Young runner up last season, and he was in the top 12 a year before that. He was a first time all-star.
He also won Game 1 of the NLCS pitching seven shutout innings. He has a 1.40 ERA this postseason. He’s doing it all for the Phillies because Van Wagenen didn’t want him.
Harper and Wheeler led the Phillies to the postseason, and they led them to a Game 1 victory. Both are Phillies because Van Wagenen didn’t want them. That goes double for Wheeler
The Mets loss is the Phillies gain. The good news is the Mets have Steve Cohen now instead of the Wilpons and Van Wagenen. This situation will not happen again, and even if it were to happen, the Mets would have a lot more than Porcello and Wacha to show for it.
Look, the New York Mets still have work to do this offseason. That’s a result not just of how terrible Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon were, but it’s also representative of where the Mets aspirations are.
To that end, instead of looking at a rotation of Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco, and eventually Noah Syndergaard buttressed by impressive depth, fans see a team in need of another starter. To be fair, the Mets organization does as well.
In light of that, the Mets pursued James Paxton, and they’ve pursued other starters as well. Except, the Mets didn’t get Paxton. He would return to the Seattle Mariners for a little more money to pitch at a place where he’s had success to rebuild his value.
Remember, Paxton has an injury history, and he’s coming off an injury. Would Paxton have made the Mets better? Sure. However, what he provides is fungible as compared to the free agent market.
If the idea is to add a starter for depth, wouldn’t it be better to add the guy you can count on to be healthy? With that being the case, Paxton and Odorizzi aren’t the answer. Walker and Porcello are.
Regardless, missing out on Paxton is not remotely a big deal when you have these other options.
The same can be said about the Mets missing out on Justin Wilson.
Undoubtedly, with Seth Lugo‘s injury, there is an increased need for the Mets to bring in another reliever. Losing Lugo turns a bullpen which was looking like a strength and turning it into a question mark.
Yes, Wilson was quite good with the Mets, and he’s likely to be quite good next year. To that point, it makes the Aaron Loup signing all the more curious. Wilson would’ve likely been far superior for that role, but for some reason, the organization thought Loup was the better fit.
Even with that, there still remains quality options available. There’s Trevor Rosenthal who seemed to put the injuries behind him to return to his dominant form. David Robertson is coming off Tommy John, and he’s been a dominant late inning reliever in his career. There are other interesting names like MVP vote getter Ryan Tepera.
If the Mets want a strictly left-handed reliever, Oliver Perez is available. Put the old nonsense aside, Perez has been a quality reliever. There’s also Tony Watson, who can provide every bit what Wilson could’ve provided.
In total, there’s still plenty of quality arms on the free agent market who can easily provide what Paxton and Wilson would’ve. In fact, there are pitchers available who are in fact better. Because of this, there is absolutely zero reason to get upset over missing those two or other similarly skilled pitchers.
Really, the only time to get upset is in the event the Mets don’t add another starter or reliever. That said, based on all we’ve seen this offseason, it’s hard to believe that’ll happen.
I had the privilege of appearing on the Simply Amazin’ podcast with the great Tim Ryder. During the podcast, names discussed include but are not limited to Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco, Rick Porcello, Francisco Lindor, J.D. Davis, Carlos Beltran, Bobby Valentine, David Wright, Bobby Thompson, Ralph Branca, Alex Cora, Luis Guillorme, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Jonathan Villar, James McCann, J.T. Realmuto, James Paxton, Trevor Rosenthal, Aaron Loup, Mike Piazza, Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Jose Martinez, Alex Gonzalez, James Loney, Moises Alou, John Olerud, Davey Johnson, Pete Alonso, Wilson Ramos, David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Corey Oswalt, Luis Rojas, Jeremy Hefner, Jim Eisenreich, Alex Fernandez, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Darryl Strawberry, Albert Almora, and more
Please take a listen.
— Simply Amazin' (@SimplyAmazinPod) February 15, 2021
Brach grew up a Mets fan. In fact, he loved the Mets so much he went to Game 3 of the World Series as a fan despite being a member of the Baltimore Orioles at the time. Brach would say seeing David Wright homering in that game was one of his favorite moments.
"When David Wright hit that home run…it was probably one of the best baseball moments I've had"
Brad Brach is a huge Mets fan and was at Game 3 of the 2015 World Series pic.twitter.com/utq57MBFfS
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 9, 2019
Speaking of Wright, he was also a huge Mets fan growing up. Like Brach, he’s also not a part of the organization. While Wright was a part of the front office with the Wilpons, he’s not right now as his contract with the team expired.
As if that’s not bad enough, it appears his number 5 was given to Albert Almora. You’d have to assume this was a mistake, and yet, there it is. Not only is his role gone but apparently so is his number. On the former, the door could be open for Wright to have a role with the team in 2021.
The same can not be said for Wright’s former teammate Steven Matz. The Long Island native grew up a Mets fan. What was once a fairy tale with his grandfather literally jumping for joy ended with him being traded for the Toronto Blue Jays.
It could be worse. Rick Porcello grew up a Mets fan, and when he hit free agency for the first time, he actually took less money to fulfill his childhood dream to pitch for the Mets. What ensued was a career worst season.
Now, he’s a free agent, and at the moment, it seems like no one has any interest in him. That puts him in the same situation as Brach.
Two lifelong Mets fans who dreamed of pitching for the Mets only for it to all go wrong. Now, they’re looking for a new place to play because the place they wanted to play more than anywhere doesn’t want them.
All told, that just sums up just how bad of an offseason for a player to be a Mets fan. If you grew up a Mets fan, there just doesn’t seem to be a spot for you with the Mets in 2021 or beyond.
Before the sale of the New York Mets to Steve Cohen, you could almost be assured the team would have had heavy interest in Jake Arrieta. Really, this was a play out of their playbook. It was a big name, and they could tout adding a Cy Young winner to the rotation.
We saw it just last offseason. They let Zack Wheeler go to the Philadelphia Phillies unchallenged and chastised him as having two half seasons. They would then promote adding former Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and former NLCS MVP Michael Wacha. It didn’t matter neither pitcher was still in that form, they were names the Mets could tout, and so they did.
Looking at Arrieta, it is hard to argue he is anything more than just a name at this point in his career. Like with Porcello and Wacha, he is far removed from the form he once was.
Since signing with the Phillies, Arrieta has seen his ERA rise in each of the last three seasons while seeing his ERA+ drop to a 90. His WHIP has gotten successively worse while seeing his H/9 and K/BB worsen each season. During his time in Philadelphia, he had a 4.36 ERA, 99 ERA+, and a 4.55 FIP. Based upon what we’ve seen of the soon to be 35 year old pitcher, that is only going to get worse.
Over at Baseball Savant, we see Arrieta has ceased getting swing and misses, and the contact against him has gotten increasingly harder. Batters are having an easier time squaring him up, and his velocity is down. When he was throwing 95 MPH with the Chicago Cubs, he was a true ace. At 92, he’s been a fifth starter on the verge of being a pitcher who may be forced into retirement.
Really, when you look at Arrieta, you have to wonder why the Mets would have interest. Arrieta hasn’t been all that good the past two seasons, and he has been trending downward since that Cy Young season in 2015. Of course, with all of these reasons, you could also understand the Mets may pursue him because they feel like they could build on something.
On that note, Arrieta’ GB/FB rate was back to the levels it was when he won the Cy Young in 2015. He was also unlucky last year with a .333 BABIP. Certainly, if you are the Mets, you can look at the addition of Francisco Lindor and their attempts to build an infield in 2021, and you could certainly talk yourself into it working.
If nothing else, it is a plan which would allow David Peterson to begin the year in Triple-A Syracuse. It allows the team to have to only look to rely on one of Joey Lucchesi or Jordan Yamamoto in the rotation. It is a bridge to when Noah Syndergaard is ready. Based on the likely commitment required to sign him, it is entirely possible it will be easy to cut bait with him should he falter.
On those grounds, you can certainly understand the Mets line of thinking. That said, when there are better and higher upside options available like James Paxton, you do wonder why the Mets would push for Arrieta right now. If the team was still operated by Jeff Wilpon, you would understand, and you could see this coming a mile away.
However, now, this move at this time seems odd. Perhaps, the Mets won’t go this route until the rest of the free agent starting pitching market shakes out. Maybe, they know something we don’t. At this point, it is anyone’s guess. We can only hope they know better and their hedging their bets here will pay off in a way it typically didn’t under Jeff Wilpon.
After needlessly trading Steven Matz to the Toronto Blue Jays an missing out on Trevor Bauer, the Mets are left looking for a depth starting pitcher. Ideally, they want a pitcher who can both allow them to have David Peterson start the year in Triple-A and push Joey Lucchesi when Noah Syndergaard is ready to return to the rotation.
There are still a few options available. There is James Paxton who is coming back from injury and seems eternally injury prone. There is also Taijuan Walker who has had poor velocity and spin on his pitches. The Mets are also talking with Jake Arrieta who has not been the same since leaving the Chicago Cubs.
Seeing the lengths to which the Mets are going to find that one extra starter, you do wonder how long it will take before they consider bringing back Rick Porcello. While it may not be a popular decision, it would be a decision that would make a lot of sense for the Mets.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way – Porcello was bad in 2020. In 12 starts, Porcello was 1-7 with a 5.64 ERA and a 1.508 WHIP. He had a career worst 75 ERA+, and he allowed a 11.3 hits per nine. By nearly every measure, this was the worst season of Porcello’s career, and for many, this happening with Porcello being 31 was an indication he was effectively done being a Major League caliber starting pitcher.
Before addressing that, we should consider his August 5 start. In that game, Porcello earned his one and only win as a member of the Mets. Over seven innings, he would allow one earned on five hits while walking none and striking out four. Aside from his winning that game, there was something else unique and important about that game. In that game, the Mets had Luis Guillorme and Andres Gimenez up the middle, and they were flashing the leather.
That game was an important reminder Porcello is a sinkerball pitcher who pitches to contact. Really, he wasn’t a different pitcher in that game as he was in most of the season. The real difference was the defense behind him.
Again, the Mets defense was terrible in most of 2020. In fact, their -22 DRS was the fifth worst in the majors. That’s one of the reasons why Mets pitchers had a .316 BABIP which was the fourth worst in the majors. All told, the Mets defense was horrible, and it severely impacted not just their pitching, but it really derailed their season. It’s at this point we should revisit Porcello’s 2020 season.
Despite the poor results, Porcello had a 3.33 FIP which is indicative of him pitching SIGNIFICANTLY better than his final 2020 results indicated. Over at Baseball Savant, Porcello posted very good exit velocity numbers and was middle of the pack in terms of hard hit rate. Despite that, he yielded an absurdly high .373 BABIP, which was not just the worst of his career by a preposterous margin, but it was also well above his .308 career mark.
Keep in mind, Porcello generated the weakest contact he ever has in his career, and he did that in what was a Mets schedule facing a number of very good offensive teams. He also had the best HR/9 and HR/FB rate of his career. All told, there was absolutely no reason why Porcello should have had a poor year. He induced weak contact, and he was keeping the ball in the ballpark.
Well, no reason except for the atrocious Mets defense. Keep in mind most of the batted balls against him went to the left side of the Mets infield. As we know, that defense has been significantly improved with the addition of Francisco Lindor‘s Gold Glove caliber defense at shortstop, and it will be further improve by having literally anyone other than J.D. Davis at third base.
Suddenly, not matter who is on the mound, those soft balls hit on the left side of the infield will be the sure outs they should have been. Also, those 50/50 balls will suddenly turn in the Mets favor. Maybe, just maybe, they will start getting to some of those balls few teams could ever turn into outs. Put another way, this is now a Mets team built to allow Porcello to be a successful starter.
Keeping in mind Porcello grew up a Mets fan and would be driven for redemption, a reunion could make a lot of sense. This is a Mets team built for him defensively, and this is a rotation in need of just one more starter to sure it up. All told, the Mets should now be looking towards Porcello instead of considering the likes of Arrieta.
This wasn’t the best week for the New New York Mets regime. Jared Porter’s text messages surfaced, and he had to be fired.
George Springer signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. Brad Hand signed with the Washington Nationals. The New York Yankees obtained Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates without having to part with a huge prospect cost.
Believe it or not, these has actually caused some anxiety and consternation amongst Mets fans.
Brutal…Mets needed to sign him https://t.co/oRIsNtgBZV
— Evan Roberts (@EvanRobertsWFAN) January 25, 2021
Seeing Mets fans beginning to lose their minds, it’s clear they’re forgetting just how vastly improved this Mets team is.
After all, the Mets obtained Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. With that, in one fell swoop the Mets got the best player and pitcher any team will obtain this offseason.
Keep in mind, many thought the 2020 Mets were a postseason team, and this team has made major upgrades:
- SP Rick Porcello -> Carlos Carrasco
- SP Michael Wacha -> Marcus Stroman
- RP Jared Hughes -> Trevor May
- C Wilson Ramos -> James McCann
- Andres Gimenez/Amed Rosario -> Francisco Lindor
Also, for the all the claims the Mets aren’t spending, people are ignoring just how much the Mets have already invested in the 2021 team. To date, the Mets have already added $61.3 million to the payroll.
Are people going to claim the Mets are being cheap when they’ve added what amounts to the Tampa Bay Rays entire payroll already? Consider that’s before the Mets are even done.
At the time no one say the Lindor trade happening. It went from rumored to confirmed in about an hour. Who knows what else is on the horizon.
Before jumping the gun and lambasting this front office like it’s one which has been run by the Wilpons, look at what they’re already done. Take time to realize they’re not done building this team.
There may come a time to criticize them, but it’s not today. It’s not when the Blue Jays gave Springer a way over the top contract, the Nationals had a closer job to offer the Mets didn’t, and the Yankees rolled the dice on a pitcher who has had two Tommy John surgeries.
Things have already improved immensely under Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson, and they will continue to get better.
We can all reasonably debate whether Marcus Stroman or Trevor Bauer is better. There are arguments to be made for either pitcher, and on that front, we should all be able to agree to disagree while waiting for the next few years to play out.
However, one area where Mets fans should be unanimous is extending Stroman before he hits the free agent market.
Looking at the Mets 2021 rotation, only Jacob deGrom is a sure thing. After him, David Peterson earned a spot. From there, your guess is as good as anyone, especially with the Mets having to make a critical decision on Steven Matz.
That’s 2-3/5 of a rotation to fill. Beyond Stroman and Bauer, the market has a lot of question marks. It’s one thing to take a shot on Rick Porcello again or signing a Kevin Gausman. It’s a whole other thing to sign both and count on them leading you back to the postseason.
No, if you’re the Mets, you need another top flight starter to pair with deGrom. We know Stroman has been that in his career. We also know he can handle New York.
Getting Stroman signed now allows the Mets to have less uncertainty entering the postseason. It ensures a strong rotation for the 2021 season. It allows them to focus on other areas of their team which needs upgrades and improvements. It’s also gives the Mets a chance to be a little creative.
The problem is with Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers winning last night, they’re one game away from winning the World Series. As it stands, the World Series either ends tomorrow or Wednesday. Five days after that, free agency begins.
This gives the Mets a little less than a week to extend Stroman much in the way the Mets once did with Mike Piazza. That’s not to say Stroman is a future Hall of Famer like Piazza. Rather, it illustrates if you give a player what they want in a deal, they’ll happily agree to stay.
Certainly, Stroman is a native New Yorker who has enjoyed pitching in New York. It’s now time to take advantage of that and Steve Cohen’s deep pockets and keep him in New York.
If they don’t, the Mets rotation in 2021 could look even worse than it did this year. Certainly, that’s not how anyone wants the Cohen era to begin. With that being the case, get to work and sign Stroman.