As had been detailed here when the Mets fired Luis Rojas, Buck Showalter was never the right man to manage the New York Mets. When you’re looking to overall your organization top to bottom to be more analytically driven like the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Tampa Bay Rays, you can’t hire someone who never was willing to adapt his style of managing to suit the modern game.
Assuredly, there were people who loved him. He talked a good game. He kept the media in check even despite the Mets collapse of yesteryear. A lesser respected manager would have routinely mocked for the way he handled the Joe Musgrove glistening ear situation in the deciding game three.
Perhaps, that was also the result of low expectations and an unwillingness to recognize just how good and deep the 2022 Mets roster was. Certainly, that was a driving force behind his winning Manager of the Year.
As for this year, he and the Mets were a bit snake bit. Edwin Díaz was injured during the World Baseball Classic. José Quintana had a cancer scare and bone graft surgery. Starling Marte never fully healed from offseason surgery. Justin Verlander was injured to start the season.
There was the Mets inability to adapt to the new rules right away. Max Scherzer had difficulty adapting to the old rules. The list goes on and on with that article from The Athletic doing him no favors in terms of just how ill suited he was for the job this season.
That’s not to say Showalter is too old to adjust. That’s unfair and unwarranted. He still has a sharp mind, and he knows what he knows. The issue is he was taught to manage a certain way, and that worked wonders for decades. He has just been unwilling to change.
Part of the issue is his apparent loyalty and affinity for older players. In the case of Tommy Pham, the Mets were better for it as Pham had a good year, and it led to a great trade at the deadline. However, in the case of Daniel Vogelbach, it severely damaged the team in the short term and the long term.
Maybe the Mets were always going to hire David Stearns. Certainly, it didn’t seem like an accident Craig Counsell‘s contract was up the same time as Stearns’, and Counsell wasn’t looking to sign a contract extension with the Milwaukee Brewers.
To that end, it does seem like Showalter was hired for two years with a chance to force himself upon Stearns. Certainly, if Showalter was more like Dusty Baker in his willingness to balance his strengths while accepting the analytics more, perhaps we would have seen Showalter remain on the job.
However, for better or worse, Showalter wanted to manage this team like he wanted to manage. In the case of players like Francisco Lindor, they loved him for it. Perhaps, they would’ve loved him more if he changed even a little bit, and the Mets won the World Series.
All this said, Showalter does deserve respect for taking this job and not embarrassing the Mets organization in the process. He did come at a time when things were going sideways, and he did in fact restore some public credibility, and he did keep the media pressure off in ways Bobby Valentine and Willie Randolph (two better Mets managers) ever could.
He deserved the dignity of being able to end it publicly on his terms. He earned the respect of his players, and he does deserve some gratitude from the fans, especially with all the damage that had been done to the organization since Brodie Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway did, and the shadow it cast until Showalter’s hiring.
In all honesty, hopefully, we will see Showalter get one more crack at managing. Hopefully, like Baker, he will accept the game has changed, and we can see his strenghts carry him to that elusive World Series title. With that, he may eventually get into the Hall of Fame.
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.
The New York Mets recognized they were not going to win in 2023. As a result, they had a fire sale (even if they don’t want to call it one) trading away Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Dominic Leone, Tommy Pham, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander. That was then followed by reports the Mets are not going to try to win a World Series in 2024, but promised to put out a team which could contend for the Wild Card.
With that the rest of the 2023 season is about the future. To some degree, we have already seen that with Francisco Álvarez surpassing Omar Narváez as the Mets primary catcher, and Brett Baty continuing to work through a tough rookie season. The Mets took it a step further with Buck Showalter actually allowing Mark Vientos to DH against Zack Greinke instead of turning to Daniel Vogelbach.
With the trades, Starling Marte on the IL, and Brandon Nimmo having a quad issue during batting practice, we saw DJ Stewart, Danny Mendick, and Rafael Ortega in the lineup. Putting aside the Mets now trying to finish in the bottom six to preserve their draft position, those players being in the lineup, let alone on the roster, does not fortify the Mets plans to build for the future.
Seeing those players in the lineup and the Mets fire sale, it is now time to call up Ronny Mauricio.
Now, is Mauricio ready for the majors? Well, in all honesty, the answer is probably not. He still only has a 5.7 BB%, which is an improvement over what he posted in Doube-A Binghamton last season. His strikeout rate is down as well. Meanwhile, he is struggling to find a defensive home away from shortstop.
To a certain degree, we can argue Mauricio has gotten as far as he could in Triple-A. He is still very much the aggressive hitter now that he was to start the season. In fact, he’s very much the same player he was all of last season. At this point, it may just be that Mauricio needs to see Major League pitching to see what he needs to do to become a Major Leaguer.
Put another way, maybe it is time to let Mauricio fail. Let him go struggle against Major League pitching and see he needs to be more patient and/or more selective at the plate. Let him start to learn the lesson it took Jose Reyes nearly four seasons to learn. Get him on the right path and don’t let him go down the same path Amed Rosario did.
If the Mets were contenders, there is no room for learning on the job. However, they’re not contending. Quite the opposite.
For the moment, the Mets have to determine how to better use the final months of the season. Should they completely waste the playing time on players like Stewart, Mendick, and/or Ortega, or do they give Mauricio a shot? Do they let him learn what it takes to be a Major League player while getting the benefit of Major League coaching as he tries to continue to adapt as a hitter while learning new positions,.
The Mets are now looking to win in 2025, which means their young players need to start taking leaps in 2024. The best way to help that process is to get Mauricio learning how to be a Major Leaguer now. He’s done all he is going to do in Triple-A, and now, it is time for him to start learning what he can only learn in the majors.
Even by New York Mets standards, this June Swoon was miserable. 7-19. Didn’t win a series. Not a one.
Went from two games over to 10 games under. In the NL East fight being down 3.5 games. Now completely out of it down 18.5 games.
One game up in the Wild Card standings. Now, 10 games back. Already sold off Eduardo Escobar. Multiple press conferences, and who knows what else to come.
Fortunately, June is over. It’s July, and the Mets have their last chance to turn things around. Being a team in that position, Justin Verlander was a great choice to have on the mound.
Verlander’s slider was working. As a really, the San Francisco Giants’ bats were not.
The Giants couldn’t do anything against Verlander in the seventh, and they needed a Pete Alonso error to do it. The only run they scored was off a double play, and Verlander made sure that was it.
Offensively, the Mets did what they needed. It started with Francisco Álvarez homering in the third. Suddenly, it looks like his slump is over, and he will be an offensive force again.
The defense was improved as we saw with Luis Guillorme quick on the game ending double play. There was a lot to like, and it started with great starting pitching.
At this point, you can dwell on the negative all you want. There’s plenty there not to like. However, on a day like this, there’s a win and finally reason to be happy.
Who knows? Maybe, the Mets go on a run, and it all started with Verlander. Chances are it’s not, but stranger things have happened.
At this point, let’s enjoy this one. There was a lot to like. Maybe 50 years later, history will repeat itself again. As Tug McGraw said then, “Ya Gotta Believe!”
The New York Mets are a disaster at the moment. We have seen the return of the dreaded June Swoon with this team. They are 6-16 this month, and you can only see things getting worse.
The NL East is no longer within reach, and the same may be true for the Wild Card. The Mets are 16 games behind the Atlanta Braves. They are 8.5 games back in the Wild Card race. In the NL, only the St. Louis Cardinals, Colorado Rockies, and Washington Nationals have a worse record than the Mets. The Mets have lost a series to all three of those teams.
During this time, Buck Showalter has been a disaster.
The lineups are not analytically driven. Starling Marte has never been the option to bat second, and he’s even less of one when he is not healthy. Really, Showalter has flaunted his disdain for analytics by pointing out how he used them to tell Tommy Pham what they had to say about him.
Showalter is getting testy with reporters who are finally seeking accountability. When pressed as to why he didn’t use David Robertson in the eighth when the game was on the line, Showalter sounded dumbfounded as to how he would use his closer during the most important part of the game.
What made that worse was while Showalter was espousing Adam Ottavino was unavailable, Ottavino was saying he was good to pitch. Fast-forward to the next game, we see Showalter using Robertson, Ottavino, and Brooks Raley in a loss. It would be difficult to argue he wasn’t being passive aggressive.
At this point, you have to start to wonder if Showalter is trying to get fired. Steve Cohen pumped all this money into analytics only for the manager to ignore it. That’s all well and good when you’re winning, but at the moment, no one is playing worse baseball than the Mets.
For some reason, Cohen is not acting. He is sitting idly by as all the money he has invested has been absolutely wasted. The analytics investments have been wasted by the manger. The money for payroll has been wasted by Billy Eppler who built a flawed roster. Moreover, the player development investment is being wasted.
We get back to Showalter here. Showalter would rather lose with veterans than try to win with rookies. He’s gone out of his way to marginalize the young players on this roster.
At some point, the focus needs to be on Cohen,. Why is he so content to allow his GM and manager to just waste hundreds of millions of dollars? Why is he not motivated to take action when the Mets are becoming laughingstocks again?
Yes, Eppler built a poor roster. Certainly, Showalter has gone out of his way to make things worse. However, in the end, Cohen has the ability to make changes, and he is not making them. Sooner or later, we need to hold him accountable for his inaction.
Right now, the New York Mets are 34-40. They’ve recently lost a home series to the St. Louis Cardinals. Good luck finding hope for this season.
The Mets are 13.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. They’re seven games back in the Wild Card.
Only the St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals, and Colorado Rockies have a worse record than the Mets. The Mets have lost a series to all three of those teams.
Mark Canha and Tommy Pham are playing well lately. They give a team a veteran bat and presence. Daniel Vogelbach is hot of late, so you can hope he can keep it going until another GM is dumb enough to trade for him.
Point is there are assets, and there could be teams looking to trade sooner rather than later. After all, teams like San Diego and Seattle are always desperate to make a trade.
For various reasons, the Mets just shouldn’t expect much in return. We’re not talking about game changing players, and Billy Eppler is the Mets GM. Maybe if Steve Cohen eats some money, they can maximize the returns.
In reality, you’re not doing this for the lottery ticket prospect. Mostly, you’re doing it for the prospects and young players who are here.
Mark Vientos should at least be the DH. Ronny Mauricio should now get the call-up to play whatever position he is going to play. You need them to get acclimated to the majors and be ready to take on a big role in 2024.
You need to let David Peterson finish the season in the rotation. It’s time to see if he can be a fifth starter, reliever, or look to cut bait. After all, they’re effectively doing that already with Tylor Megill (he’s really a reliever).
Maybe take a glance at Luke Ritter. Sure, he’s an older prospect with very little Triple-A experience, but he’s breaking out this season. After all, what do you have to lose? Games? They’re doing that already.
Mets have to find out about these young players. They need to make it beyond impossible for Buck Showalter to sit them.
Maybe they surprise you like the Cincinnati Reds are surprising everyone. Likely, they won’t, and the Mets will falter. However, it’s better to falter with young players getting experience than watching this.
It’s time to start selling.
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.
The danger with calling up Mark Vientos was that Buck Showalter was not going to play him. That is just Showalter’s instincts when it comes to young players. While veterans need not have to produce to keep a roster spot, young players have to go above and beyond to earn playing time.
When Brett Baty was first called up, he was immediately put into a platoon at third base with Eduardo Escobar. What was bizarre about that was Baty was called up to the majors specifically because of Escobar’s struggles. Baty has since played his way out of the platoon.
For two years running, the Mets said when Francisco Álvarez was called up to the majors, he was going to be the primary catcher. However, when Álvarez was called up after the Omar Narváez injury, Showalter first made Álvarez the back-up to Tomás Nido.
Eventually, Nido’s struggles and eye issues forced him to the IL, and now Álvarez is the primary catcher. However, even with Álvarez being the Mets best hitter for over a month now, he still bats ninth.
That brings us back to Vientos.
Vientos was called up because Daniel Vogelbach was not hitting for power, and he was slumping. Tommy Pham was not getting it done either from the DH spot. Mostly, the Mets needed more power in their lineup. Given the power display Vientos was exhibiting in Triple-A coupled with him dramatically cutting down on the strikeouts, the Mets were almost forced to call him up.
When he was first called up, it looked genius. Vientos would homer off of Ryan Thompson to tie the game and spark what would be the Mets best win of the season. Notably, Vientos was just one of four players over the past three seasons to homer off of Thompson’s slider:
Good thing they didn’t call up Mark Vientos sooner.
— Mike Mayer (@mikemayer22) May 18, 2023
Even with the homer, the Mets would not get him back into the lineup. He sat against the right-handed Taj Bradley. However, he would get into the lineup again against the right-handed Cal Quantrill. In that game, Vientos came up with the big base hit off Emmanuel Clase in the 10th to pull the Mets within a run.
For Vientos, that was two games played with two big hits producing an RBI. Despite that, he would not appear in the lineup until two games later. Being fair here, one of the games he missed the first half of a doubleheader. Still, after two big hits, Showalter’s inclination was to sit Vientos for two straight games.
Vientos struggled against Shane Bieber, who was excellent over eight innings. Then again, the Mets lineup only produced two runs on seven hits for the day.
Vientos would start at DH in the first game of the series against the Chicago Cubs with Drew Smyly taking the mound. After going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts, Showalter pinch hit Vogelbach for Vientos when the right-handed Jeremiah Estrada relieved Smyly.
When Showalter pinch hit for Vientos, there were runners on first and second with one out. Vogelbach flied out with Francisco Lindor and Alonso moving up. You’ll note when Starling Marte, the Mets worst hitter this season, came to the plate, Showalter did not use Jeff McNeil to pinch hit for him. Instead, he left Marte in to ground out killing the Mets chances of getting back into that game.
With Marcus Stroman taking the hill, Vientos was again on the bench in favor of Vogelbach. Vogelbach was 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Again, Vogelbach had the type of performance which led to Vientos getting called up.
Taking all into account, here is where we are. Vientos was impactful the first two games but has not been since. He is struggling with sporadic playing time going 2-for-13 at the plate with a homer and two RBI (65 wRC+).
Vientos is not producing enough at the moment. He has also been taken out the rhythm he was in Triple-A with the sporadic playing time he has had. Put the blame where you want it, but the end result is Vientos not playing frequently and not producing the way he did even when he was first called-up.
One thing that has been abundantly clear is the New York Mets lineup isn’t working. Even going back to last season, Buck Showalter never truly maximized his lineup. That should change now, especially since Showalter can’t justify many of his decisions.
That’s not to say Showalter has been completely inflexible. To be fair, he did drop down Starling Marte in the lineup due to his early season struggles. On that point, Marte never should have been batting second. As we have seen, from a Sabermetric/analytical standpoint, your best hitter should bat second.
Instead, Showalter treated it like a second lead-off hitter. That never really worked last season, and it is time to see Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, or Brandon Nimmo bat second. If players like Aaron Judge and Mike Trout bat second, the Mets can put their top hitter there.
Since the start of last season, those are the Mets top three hitters. Alonso has a 141 wRC+. McNeil is behind him with a 136, and Nimmo has a 132. The Mets could easily justify batting anyone one of them second in their lineup.
Before getting to that point, the Mets do have to wrestle with who leads off. Part of the issue there is while Nimmo seems like the obvious candidate, the waters do get muddied a bit when looking at the numbers.
In his career, McNeil has been at his best batting lead-off (131 wRC+), his four games in the clean-up spot (144 wRC+), or towards the bottom of the lineup. He has been his weakest batting second (115 wRC+) and fifth (104 wRC+). While we can and should look towards analytics, we should also take into account where players thrive and meld the two.
On that front, Francisco Lindor has been at his best when batting lead-off (123 wRC+) or fifth in the lineup (183 wRC+) in his career. The caveat there is he’s hit fifth only once, so that should really be disregarded. Really, Lindor has spent his career in the top third of the lineup, and it is clear he’s a much better hitter when leading off.
For his part, Nimmo has a 135 wRC+ as a leadoff hitter. He’s got better numbers in other spots in the lineup, but there’s nothing close to an appreciable sample size to derive anything of it. This is where the Mets conundrum is. They have three players who thrive batting leadoff, but only one of them can fill that spot.
Going back to Alonso for a moment, he has a 135 wRC+ batting clean-up. However, he has a 149 wRC+ batting second and a 151 wRC+ batting fifth. He’s very good batting third hitting third.
So going through the numbers, here is what we know. Nimmo has the best wRC+ as a lead-off hitter, but Lindor has the biggest drop-off from the lead-off to other spots in the lineup. Alonso can hit basically anywhere. Going deeper, over the past month, Álvarez has been the Mets best hitter with a 162 wRC+. Put another way, he’s arrived.
Basically, there’s a lot going on with the Mets lineup, but one thing we know is Álvarez batting last is something that needs to change immediately. We also know base stealing is easier with the closer base paths, and Lindor is their best base stealer out of their top hitters. Taking everything into account, perhaps the Mets can roll with something like this:
- Lindor, SS
- Alonso, 1B
- McNeil, 2B
- Álvarez, C
- Nimmo, CF
- Vientos, 3B
- Baty, LF
- Marte, RF
- Vogelbach/Escobar/Canha DH
Another interesting look is:
- McNeil, 2B
- Nimmo, CF
- Alonso, 1B
- Lindor, SS
- Álvarez, C
- Baty, LF
- Vientos, 3B
- Vogelbach/Escobar/Canha, DH
- Marte, RF
If that is too radical, the other option the Mets have in play is:
- Nimmo, CF
- Lindor, SS
- McNeil, LF
- Alonso, 1B
- Baty, 3B
- Vientos, DH
- Escobar, 2B
- Marte, RF
The second is the more likely scenario given the manager. However, it is still a major change. The biggest is acknowledging Álvarez is one of the Mets top hitters and needs to be recognized as such.
The other interesting part of the lineup is Marte ninth. This is a page out of Bobby Valentine‘s playbook when he would bat Roger Cedeño ninth in interleague games to give the Mets a leadoff hitter at the bottom of the lineup.
In the end, this is a balancing of what the players are comfortable doing with optimizing the lineup analytically. The Mets seem to be doing better with their top four batters rearranged, and if that is the case, the Mets can roll with that. However, the lower five needs radical reconstruction starting with batting Álvarez fifth.
That last part should be the easy part. Time will tell if Showalter sees it that way.
Right now, the New York Mets are 17-18. They’re under .500. As Bill Parcells has been credited with saying, “You are what your record says you are.” Well, that means the Mets are not a good team.
There are caveats we can throw out there, and to be fair, they should be noted.
Losing four starters like that takes a toll on your rotation and team. Of course, that is a complication of having the oldest rotation in the majors. As oft noted this offseason, rotations this old usually do not make it to the postseason.
The bullpen was thrown a bit into chaos with the unexpected season ending injury to Edwin Díaz. To be fair, the Mets were prepared for that with the addition of David Robertson. The problem is no one outside Robertson and Drew Smith have been very good in the bullpen.
Of course, that is a function of the rotation not going deep into games. That is going to tax the bullpen. However, it is also a function of Billy Eppler not building a complete bullpen over the winter. The bullpen needed 1-2 more arms, and he never got them. He also never replaced Trevor Williams as the long man, which only exacerbates the starting pitching being unable to go deep into games.
Maybe the Mets could weather this storm with more offense, but the offense was left unaddressed in the offseason. The world knew the Mets needed more power in the lineup, and their only attempt was the failed Carlos Correa signing. As a result, the Mets went right back to the lineup which failed against the Atlanta Braves in September and then failed again in the NL Wild Card Series.
The Mets did call up Brett Baty, and he has been good. Francisco Álvarez was put on ice after the Omar Narváez injury, and he has started hitting pretty well. Over the past 13 games, he is hitting .286/.342/.429. These are competent bats right now that are not yet lighting the world on fire.
Of course, that also means they’re some of the Mets more productive bats. You wouldn’t know that because Buck Showalter thinks they belong in the bottom half to bottom third of the lineup. Starling Marte and his 68 wRC+ is permanently entrenched in the second spot in the lineup (the most important spot in the lineup) because he’s fast and a veteran.
Mark Canha has a 91 wRC+, and he mostly bats fifth or sixth because, well, he’s a veteran. Therein lies the problem. Showalter is making decisions based upon 1980s decision making and deference to veterans. It’s not about what best suits the team now.
Sure, not all that ails the Mets is going to be solved by lineup construction. However, when your pitching is struggling this much, and there are so many unproductive bats, you need to get as much of a competitive advantage as you possibly can.
Right now, the Mets aren’t. As a result, they’re an under .500 team. They’re just not a good team, and the manager isn’t really doing what is needed to be done to get some wins right now.
Sure, the Mets can turn things around and still make the postseason. That said, they’re seven games behind the Atlanta Braves and tied with the Miami Marlins for second in the division. The more they don’t do anything the more the division is out of reach leaving them back in that dreaded best-of-three series.
Now is the time for the Mets to focus on their productive players. Let the young players play and thrive. If not, the Mets could be in serious trouble.