Finally, Buck Showalter was asked why the New York Mets best (or second-best hitter) Francisco Álvarez was batting ninth. Showalter gave a rambling answer which grew increasingly out of touch.
Apparently, Álvarez is batting ninth because Taijuan Walker is a right-handed pitcher. Obviously, Showalter is just going to ignore Álvarez having a 174 wRC+ against right-handed pitching and a 33 wRC+ against left-handed pitching.
He said Álvarez needed to hit ninth because he has some personal issues. Obviously, none of us are in a position to question that. However, it is strange how these personal issues are not present when there’s a left-handed pitcher on the mound.
Apparently, Showalter is managing like it’s five years ago. That may not be a surprise given how his managerial approach is more akin to managing like it’s 30 years ago.
As if the above didn’t leave you dumbfounded enough, Showalter then said be views the ninth place hitter as important. He puts it of higher importance than most people.
Before Showalter was hired by the Mets, he only managed one other National League team – the Arizona Diamondbacks. When he managed the Diamondbacks, the pitcher hit ninth.
In the previous game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Tomás Nido batted ninth. Nido has been the Mets worst hitter all season. In fact, Nido has batted ninth 18 times and eighth just three times.
Showalter can try to sell is he suddenly believes ninth is more important than we all think. However, this only seems to be the case with him when Álvarez is in the lineup against a right-handed pitcher.
Examining the response, there is no charitable reading of Showalter’s explanations. All told, he’s showing he’s ignoring the data and continuing to try to hold back the rookies in favor of the underperforming veterans.
For some reason, Showalter has everyone fooled into thinking he’s better than them or anyone. As time increasingly passes, we see a game that has continued to pass him by. That’s all the more problematic when you consider that Showalter is a manager with one postseason series win in 22 years.
With the 2023 Major League Baseball season getting underway, it is time to make some predictions for the season. Last year, well, at least the predictions for the NL side of the ledger looked a lot better than the AL side, which is exactly bragging.
AL East – Toronto Blue Jays
Yes, the New York Yankees kept Aaron Judge, and Anthony Volpe will begin the year on the roster, but they already have Carlos Rodon, Luis Severino, and Frankie Montas on the IL. The Blue Jays are younger, healthier, and added some key pieces around their exciting young core. This is the year they finally break through and win the division.
AL Central – Minnesota Twins
The Chicago White Sox were disappointing last year and took a step backwards this offseason. The Guardians were a surprise, but all they did was add Josh Bell. The Twins kept Carlos Correa while doing well to add Christian Vázquez and Joey Gallo. All told, this division is bad, and the Twins are probably just less bad than the lot.
AL West – Houston Astros
Picking anyone else would be insane (don’t check my predictions for last year). The Seattle Mariners are on the cusp, and as we may be saying for the last time, the Los Angeles Angels have Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Still, the Astros are the strongest and best team in baseball.
AL Wild Card 1 – New York Yankees – Look, they still have Judge, Anthony Rizzo., and Giancarlo Stanton. How they keep everyone healthy is anyone’s guess, but there is enough talent there to be great when it is all there, which may not be for more than 50 games.
AL Wild Card 2 – Tampa Bay Rays – They’re the Rays. They’re the team where you throw them a million mismatched Lego pieces, and they build you the Taj Mahal. There’s also just the look in Randy Arozarena‘s eyes during the WBC.
AL Wild Card 3 – Los Angeles Angels – Yes, the Mariners are probably better right now. However, the Angels are absolutely hellbent on keeping Ohtani and will pull out all the stops this year to make it happen. We may also see Trout more motivated than ever, which is astonishing considering how great he is.
AL MVP & Cy Young – Shohei Ohtani – Maybe this is a complete overreaction to the WBC, but Ohtani going into a contract year is going to put on a show that may never be repeated in the history of baseball.
AL Rookie of the Year – Gunnar Henderson – He’s the top prospect in the game, and he impressed during his cup of coffee last season.
AL Manager of the Year – Phil Nevin – It’s a narrative award. If the Angels make the postseason when no one thought they would, he gets the award.
NL East – Atlanta Braves
The Braves were the top team in the division last year, and they improved with Sean Murphy. The New York Mets rotation depth took a hit already, and their bench looks ugly. The Philadelphia Phillies are stronger than last year and are best poised to make a run at the Braves.
NL Central – St. Louis Cardinals
NL West – San Diego Padres
The Los Angeles Dodgers lost too much. They not only lost Trea Turner, but they also lost his replacement in Gavin Lux. This is probably the thinnest their starting pitching has been. Meanwhile, the Padres just keep adding. At some point, they have to not have some implosion during the season. Keep an eye on the San Francisco Giants who had a smart under the radar Giants like offseason.
NL Wild Card 2 – New York Mets – This team is still really good with Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander. It’s more than enough to win, and they will likely have the best roster to get a team through the postseason.
NL MVP – Jeff McNeil – With the shift ban, he could hit .400, and if he does that or makes a serious run, he will get the award.
NL Cy Young – Julio Urias – He has probably been the best pitcher in the NL over the past two years, and this could be the year he gets over the hump.
NL Rookie of the Year – Kodai Senga – It does not appear as if he has struggled with the new ball, and that ghost fork has looked lethal.
NL Manager of the Year – Rob Thompson – The Phillies are going to make a strong run at the division, and he will be partially rewarded for what he did when the took over the Phillies last season.
Wild Card Round
Angels over Twins
Yankees over Rays
Cardinals over Giants
Mets over Phillies
Astros over Angels
Blue Jays over Yankees
Padres over Cardinals
Mets over Braves
League Championship Series
Astros over Blue Jays
MVP – Yordan Alvarez
Mets over Padres
MVP – Francisco Lindor
Mets over Astros
MVP – Justin Verlander
One of the challenges the New York Mets have this offseason is rebuilding their rotation to match the one they had which carried them to 101 wins in 2021. That was going to be a challenge with the Mets needing to address four-fifths of the rotation; well, three-fifths after they picked up Carlos Carrasco‘s option.
The rotation was never really going to look the same, but it had to be as good. Arguably, it had to be better with the Mets losing in the Wild Card Series despite their top three starters lined up. The team did take a bit of a step back losing Jacob deGrom, but they responded quickly and perfectly by adding Justin Verlander.
Walker was a good and surprisingly durable pitcher for the Mets over the past two seasons. He showed flashes of being a top of the rotation starter, but he did have his struggles. Ultimately, he was a number three starter who pitched at the back end of the rotation. He was a very good Met, and the Mets will certainly miss him.
However, the team did rebound with Quintana. Keep in mind with the age of Max Scherzer, Verlander, and Carrasco, Quintana is “only” going to be 34 next season. He has pitched in the majors for 11 years, and the only time he did not make at least 22 starts was 2020 – 2021. One year was the pandemic (he did have an injury that season), and the other he dealt with shoulder issues.
Whatever concerns you may have after that two year stretch were abated when Quintana made 32 starts last season. The downside was he only pitched 165.2 innings meaning he averaged only five innings per start.
Part of that could be related to his coming back from two injury plagued years. He was in the bullpen in 2021, and he was moved back to the rotation. That does require some ease. Another issue is the Pirates are not very analytically advanced limiting their ability to get the most from their starters.
To a certain extent, we saw that play out when Quintana went to the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline. Yes, he only averaged five innings per start, but that was skewed by a few short outings. To be fair, those happened.
Putting all of that aside for a moment, that does not change the fact Quintana took the ball every fifth day. Much like he has the vast majority of his career, he promises to do the same next season. That gives the Mets some certainty with an older rotation as they also seek to manufacture pitching depth this offseason.
With respect to the stuff, well, Quintana doesn’t wow you in any sense. He doesn’t have velocity or great spin. What he does have is the ability to locate and generate weak contact. He also generates a high number of ground balls. Even without the shift, he should be aided by having Francisco Lindor and one of Jeff McNeil or Luis Guillorme up the middle.
In the end, Quintana’s skill-set is enhanced by the defense behind him. The Mets infielders will make him seem a better pitcher, and maybe then, he can go a little deeper into games. Even if he doesn’t, he is going to take the ball every fifth day and give the Mets five solid innings. There is immense value in that, especially for an older rotation, and the Mets will benefit greatly from having signed Quintana.
This offseason, the New York Mets need to add starting pitching. With their likely expensive budget, they can afford to get the best of the best.
Certainly, Carlos Rodón qualifies. Even with that said, he’s a pitcher they should avoid this offseason.
Give the San Francisco Giants credit, they’ve become exceptional at identifying under valued pitchers and making them ace level pitchers. Two years ago, it was Kevin Gausman, and this past year, it was Rodón.
Gausman backed it up showing what they do with pitchers isn’t temporary or limited to what the Giants do. Still, Rodón has his limitations.
First, the good. Rodón led the league with a 2.25 FIP and a 12.0 K/9. He finished sixth in Cy Younh voting and probably deserved better.
Beyond that, there are a number of red flags and issues related to Rodón. Primary of them is his lack of durability. That’s especially of concern for a Mets organization which promises to be thinner from a starting pitching depth perspective next year.
This past year was the only season in Rodón’s eight year career where he’s made 30 starts. Notable there is he’s never thrown 180 innings in a season.
In his career, Rodón has averaged 5.2 innings per start. Last season, where the Giants were able to keep him healthy, he averaged 5.2 innings. That’s not bad at all, but for the sake of comparison, Jacob deGrom averages 6.1 innings per start.
That’s important for two reasons. First and foremost, the Mets are rebuilding their entire bullpen, and they want as many innings from their starters as possible. That’s how their built.
Another reason is it’s likely deGrom or Rodón. Taking the full picture, it’s difficult to justify Rodón over deGrom if you’re the Mets (or any team).
With deGrom, you get the much more dominant starter who also pitches more innings. While Mets fans will lament deGrom’s recent health issues, historically, he’s more durable than Rodón.
If the Mets only have money for one, it should inarguably go to deGrom. If they have money for both, they should still tread lightly.
Rodón has a questionable injury history. We don’t know how he’ll handle New York. While he might have the highest upside, he could be the biggest potential bust with his history.
If the deal makes sense, the Mets should pounce like the Giants did. If it’s a bidding war, the Mets have plenty of other routes to go and can probably spread the money across multiple dependable starters like Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker.
There’s a scenario of two where Rodón makes sense. However, the way this offseason appears headed, they should be looking in another direction.
Before the season, there were 60 bold predictions made heading into the New York Mets 60th season. Here is a look back at how those bold predictions worked out:
1. The New York Mets will win the 2022 World Series.
While they won 101 games, they collapsed late in the season, and they would lose in three games to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card round.
2. Howie Rose will retire after the season. The Mets have already tabbed their replacement in Jake Eisenberg, and Rose could not pass up the opportunity to go out calling a Mets World Series victory.
Fortunately, Howie has not announced his retirement.
3. Rose will return in some limited fashion to SNY and will be a fill-in replacement in 2023 and beyond.
Lindor did have a huge second year, but a broken finger cost him any chance of winning the award.
5. Dominic Smith will force his way into the lineup. Yes, he’s battling with J.D. Davis and Robinson Cano for the DH spot, but like he did in 2019 and 2020, he’s going to force his way into the everyday lineup and not relinquish his spot.
As it turned out, Smith was not given a real shot to be the DH. Not only did he not force his way into the lineup, but he was demoted to Triple-A, and he was not called up even with the expanded rosters. He was non-tendered after the season.
6. Edwin Diaz will be an All-Star. Diaz has been an every other year pitcher in his career, and following that pattern, this is his year.
Diaz was an All-Star.
7. The Mets All-Stars this season will be Diaz, Lindor, and Max Scherzer.
Diaz was the only All-Star from this group. The other Mets All-Stars were Pete Alonso, Starling Marte, and Jeff McNeil.
It started that way, but deGrom wasn’t quite as sharp when he returned. He did not receive any votes.
9. Jeff McNeil will finish the season as the left fielder. That is an injury prone outfield, and McNeil will eventually be forced to move out there.
As it turned out, he finished the season as the right fielder, but he moved back to second when Marte returned from injury for the postseason.
10. Robinson Cano will reclaim a starting job. We forget that when Cano played he was actually good in the field. If the outfield is as injury prone as we think, we will eventually play almost every day at second or DH.
Wow, this one was way off the mark and couldn’t have been more wrong.
It was the opposite for Bassitt. He was strong all season until the very end.
12. Starling Marte is going to have a fast start and quickly become a fan favorite. When he’s snubbed at All-Star time, fans are going to be livid.
Marte was a fan favortite, and Mets fans would not let him be snubbed with their voting him in as a starter.
13. Mark Vientos will have a thrilling MLB debut. Vientos’ bat is arguably Major League ready, and he’s going to get some run during some point of the season as a third baseman or DH. He may not relinquish a spot.
For whatever which reason, the Mets were reluctant all year to give him a shot. After the Darin Ruf trade disaster, he finally got a shot in a pennant race and was less then thrilling.
14. Brett Baty will be moved at the trade deadline. With the emergence of Vientos and the ground ball problems, the Mets feel comfortable moving him for that big piece at the trade deadline.
Baty was not moved, and he would be called up to be the team’s everyday third baseman until his own season ending injury.
15. The Mets everyday catcher is not on the Opening Day roster. At some point, the Mets will swing a deal or call up Francisco Alvarez to take over as the everyday catcher.
With his ankle injury, Álvarez was only called up to DH late in the season. Tomas Nido did supplant James McCann as the starter.
16. The Philadelphia Phillies will be the Mets main contenders. Last year, the Atlanta Braves were dead in the water until the Mets were too injured. The Mets won’t do that again this year, and the Phillies pitching and hitters will give people more of a run than we think.
Well, the Phillies won the pennant, so this was only true to that extent. However, the Mets missed their every chance to bury the Braves and would eventually collapse.
This was very true in June. It was not true at all after that.
18. Tylor Megill will last the entire season in the rotation. Now that he’s here, it is going to be difficult to remove him from the rotation. If need be, the Mets will go to a six man rotation to keep him in the majors.
Megill had a good run as a starter until he was injured. He returned late in the season and moved to the bullpen. He is likely in the mix for the rotation next season.
19. Carlos Carrasco will rebound and will pitch like he did with Cleveland, but he will not make more than 20 starts.
Shockingly, not only did Carrasco rebound, but he also made 29 starts.
20. Trevor Williams will become a huge part of the Mets bullpen as he becomes more of a fastball/slider pitcher.
Williams was a vital part of this team all season.
21. Steve Cohen will purchase SNY during the course as the 2022 season as the Wilpons are scared off by the increasing rights deals with streamers.
This did not happen.
22. The Mets will have multiple Gold Glove winners with Lindor and Marte.
The Mets did not have any winners with only Nido being a finalist. In terms of the voting, there were multiple Mets who were snubbed despite excellent defensive numbers.
23. Hefner will get interviews for managerial positions with other teams after this season.
His name has not surfaced as a managerial candidate.
24. So will Eric Chavez.
Neither has him.
25. The Mets will not have any player at DH for more than 40 games this season.
This was very close to being true. J.D. Davis was a DH in 41 games before the team mercifully got rid of him. After the trade deadline, Daniel Vogelbach was the DH in 46 games.
26. J.D. Davis will make multiple relief appearances for the Mets this season.
He did not.
While Rodriguez had his moments, he had an 87 ERA+ making his largely true.
28. None of the Mets outfielders will play over 135 games this season.
To our collective surprise, Brandon Nimmo played a career high 151 games. Mark Canha would play 140.
For a one week stretch, when Plummer hit that ninth inning homer against the Phillies, Mets fans did fall in love with him before he stopped hitting as a part time DH. No Mets fan paid any attention to Lee.
30. Mark Canha will play more games than any other Mets outfielder, but he will have the lowest WAR out of all the regular outfielders.
Canha played fewer games than Nimmo, but he did have the lowest WAR among outfielders.
31. There will be an issue over Marcus Stroman not receiving a video tribute when the Chicago Cubs visit the Mets in September.
There wasn’t any issues with Stroman during the season, and he did not pitch against the Mets this year.
32. Old Timers’ Day will have one team wearing the 1986 Mets jerseys and the other team wearing the black jerseys.
That did not happen.
Sadly, this was true.
34. The loudest ovation on Old Timers’ Day will go to Piazza. The second loudest will go to Nolan Ryan, who will be a surprise attendee.
It was difficult to ascertain who got the loudest ovation which was a great thing.
35. The defensive highlight of the season will come from Luis Guillorme.
This award probably goes to McNeil for robbing the Oneil Cruz homer, but Guillorme had more than his fair share of highlights.
36. Pete Alonso will take a step back defensively, and he will see more time at DH than initially expected.
Alonso took a big step back defensively, but the Mets hesitated to give him more time at DH even to give him rest late in the season.
37. A week or two into the season, we will hear some rumblings about Michael Conforto looking to return to the Mets. He won’t return, and likely, he will not sign with anyone until after the Major League draft.
There were some rumblings about Conforto, but he wasn’t tied with the Mets. He also did not sign with any team.
38. Some team will crack the frequency on the pitch calling device, and we will eventually know it is them because they will be the surprise team of the 2022 season. It won’t be the Mets.
We heard nothing on that front, but we should give this one time.
39. Mets fans will actually enjoy the Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts this season.
Nope, we didn’t, and it didn’t help that David Cone was saying Mets fans would complain about them not being GKR.
40. Showalter will be the 2022 NL Manager of the Year, and it might be unanimous.
41. Seth Lugo will return to his dominant form, but he will only be a one inning reliever. The multiple inning role will be assumed by Williams.
This one was actually true.
42. The Tom Seaver statue will be perfect.
This one should’ve been true. However, Paul Lukas of Uniwatch found the flaw.
Smith was well on his way until injury. May did not have a great year, but that was mostly due to injury. It should be noted he stepped up late in the season and in the postseason.
44. People will talk about how Scherzer isn’t what they thought he’d be and the contract was a mistake. Those people will be idiots.
With Scherzer dealing with an oblique injury and faltering against the Braves and Padres, this ultimately proved true.
45. The Mets are going to have a monster second half with them running away with the division.
The Mets did have a monster second half until they faltered against the weakest September schedule. Truth is they should have run away with the division.
46. With the Toronto Blue Jays winning the division, the Mets are going to make a push to get their unvaccinated players vaccinated to ensure their availability for the World Series.
The Blue Jays made the postseason. With them and the Mets losing in the Wild Card round, this was not remotely an issue.
47. Jeurys Familia will receive a tribute video when he returns to Citi Field, and there will be a mix of cheers and boos with probably more boos.
It was a chilly reception.
48. The Wild Card round will be a complete dud and fans will be clamoring for the return of the winner-take-all Wild Card Game.
So far, fans seems to be unhappy with the postseason changes.
49. We will see David Peterson bounced around between starting and relieving due to the injury issues with the Mets starting staff. He will struggle for it.
Peterson did quite well even if he had some struggles, and he stayed in the rotation for the most part.
Holderman emerged as a quality relief option, but he would be traded for Vogelbach. Szapucki was moved to the bullpen with Syracuse with an eye towards using him in that role. He too would be traded for a platoon DH option (Ruf). The Mets only added Mychael Givens at the deadline while espousing they liked what they had.
This proved true with Nido finally taking over full duties at the very end of the season.
52. No New York baseball player will sign an in-season extension. That includes deGrom and Nimmo, and it also includes Aaron Judge.
True, but Diaz was signed before the start of free agency.
53. There will be no negative articles written about Showalter this season even during a time in the season where the Mets slump (as even the best teams in baseball always do).
True even as his team collapsed.
54. Taijuan Walker will make the fewest starts of anyone in the Mets pitching rotation.
Walker tied for the second most starts. deGrom would actually make the fewest starts.
55. The Mets will have a no-hitter this season, but it will not be from a starting pitcher going all nine innings.
On April 29, the Co-No happened.
56. This will be the last Major League season with nine inning double headers. We will see the return of seven inning double headers in 2023.
This likely will not happen.
There was no such announcment, but there was the announcement of Willie Mays and Keith Hernandez having their numbers retired.
58. Mets fans will not care about the Apple TV game, but they will be absolutely livid about the game on Peacock. Of course, MLB will not care one iota about the blowback.
MLB did not care about the lack of quality with the games, and honestly, while there were complaints, Mets fans didn’t complain nearly as much about the streaming games as you’d anticipate.
59. Showalter is going to get Guillorme in a lot of games for late inning defense.
It actually proved to be more than just that. Showalter got Guillorme into the lineup due to his glove.
60. To reiterate, the Mets will win the World Series, and they will not have to wait another three decades for their next World Series.
To reiterate, I’m an idiot, and I’ll probably make the same prediction next year.
The New York Mets gave out qualifying offers to all of their top pending free agents. That is everyone except Taijuan Walker.
Behind not giving him a qualifying offer was the probable estimation he would accept the offer. For the Mets, that was probably the best case scenario.
After picking up Carlos Carrasco’s option, the Mets only gave two of their starters from last year under contract. Somehow, they need to add three more starters, or two, if they want a Tylor Megill/David Peterson Spring Training battle for the fifth starter spot.
Overpay or not, bringing Walker back for one year was a great situation. It gives Megill and Peterson another full year to get ready to take over a spot. It also gives more time to prospects like Matt Allan, Dominic Hamel, and Calvin Ziegler.
More than that, with Walker, the Mets were keeping a dependable starting pitcher. He’s in the top 40 in starts and innings pitched over the past two seasons. There’s incredible value in just being able to pitch every fifth day and give 5+ innings.
We can and should delve deeper than that. After all, the Mets have a lot of costly decisions to make this offseason. They really can’t just overpay. Well, Walker really isn’t an overpay.
The WAR/$ valuation model rebounded slightly last season with 1 WAR being equivalent to roughly $8.5 million. Last year, Walker had a 2.6 WAR meaning he was worth $22.1 million.
Remember, the qualifying offer is $19.65 million. Walker provided more value than that last year. He’s likely to do it again.
Walker was much stronger in the second half than he was in 2021. He’d shown himself to be healthy and durable in consecutive seasons. His splitter has increasingly become a weapon.
All that taken into account, Walker is worth a one year deal. The Mets would be better off if he accepts. They’d also be in great shape if he rejects it because they’d get compensation if he signed elsewhere.
Overall, there was nothing but upside on giving Walker the qualifying offer. Unfortunately, the Mets made an unforced effort and didn’t leaving us to at least be slightly concerned Billy Eppler is not the right person for this job.
As anticipated, New York Mets starter Taijuan Walker opted out of his contract. Unlike the last time, more teams than just the Mets will come calling.
Walker opting out puts the Mets in an extremely difficult position. At times, he’s pitched like a number two. Other times, he’s pitched like a bullpen arm. No matter how you cut it, he has value.
Over the past two years, he’s 19-16 with a 3.98 ERA, 1.189 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, and a 7.9 K/9. He accumulated a 3.1 WAR, 99 ERA+, and a 4.11 FIP.
He was an All-Star in 2021, and you could make the argument he could’ve been one in 2022. His first halves have been great, and the second halves lacking.
Taking the total picture into account, Walker ranks 39th among pitchers who have pitched over 300 innings the past two seasons. He’s also thrown the 39th most innings while making the 32nd most starts.
With starting pitching, availability is of paramount importance. Despite his past history, Walker showed an ability to take the ball every fifth day. We also saw a stronger pitcher in the second half of 2022 than he was in 2021.
This is where things get dicey for the Mets.
The Mets could reasonably believe Tylor Megill or David Peterson could replicate what Walker has provided while also believing each provides more upside. If they believe that, perhaps, they should let Walker go.
However, we do not know Megill’s durability and ability to be a starter for a full season. Peterson has shown durability and appears to be building strength to last a full season in the rotation.
Another factor with both was they entered Spring Training as pitching depth. If either or both are in the 2023 rotation that depth takes a hit, especially with Jose Butto likely being the sole upper level minors pitcher the Mets feel confidence in calling up.
The Mets need to balance that against just how much they can actually spend. Edwin Díaz just signed a record deal for a reliever. The Mets also have free agents in Chris Bassitt, Jacob deGrom, Seth Lugo, and Brandon Nimmo.
The Mets entered the offseason needing to rebuild an entire pitching staff – rotation and bullpen. That is going to cost a ton of money, and even with Steve Cohen, you have to imagine at some point, the Mets will need to save money here and there.
If the Mets lock in Walker, they’re keeping a good starter who may still yet have upside. It’s a move towards maintaining depth. It’s more certainty than upside, which is never a bad thing.
In the end, the Mets best decision might be to offer Walker the qualifying offer. If he accepts, great. If not, the Mets get a compensatory pick allowing them to pursue players like Trea Turner.
Overall, this is a good “problem” for the Mets to have. They either keep a good pitcher, or they get an asset to help them sign other players and/or build for the future.
This is a “problem” because Walker has been good and deserves a long term deal. The Mets have been better for having him, and no matter what happens fans and the organization should appreciate him and wish him well.
We still do or do not know if Shohei Ohtani will be traded this offseason. The Los Angeles Angels are up for sale, and with a sale process ongoing, we may not see the superstar traded.
As a franchise, now may be the time to trade him. He’s a year away from free agency. He’s voicing his discontent. Even with Ohtani and Mike Trout, this is a team nowhere close to contention. That goes double when you consider what the Houston Astros are doing and the Seattle Mariners young core.
If Ohtani were available for trade, it would behoove the Mets to do everything they can do to get him right now. No, they should not wait around and hope to flex Steve Cohen’s financial muscle in the ensuing offseason.
The biggest reason why is you don’t know if he will even be a free agent. Years ago, Mets fans were awaiting Cohen to purchase the team, and the prevailing “wisdom” was not to go out and get Mookie Betts. because the Mets could just sign him after the offseason. Well, Betts signed a massive extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
We did see Cohen act similarly. The Mets went out and traded for Francisco Lindor. Cohen then gave him the biggest contract for a shortstop in Major League history to ensure Lindor would not hit the open market. We can go back over 20 years ago when the Mets obtained Mike Piazza from the Florida Marlins and then gave him a record contract during their exclusive negotiating window before the start of free agency.
When a team trades for and obtains a superstar, they get a chance to put on the full court press to sign that player to an extension with zero competition. Cohen has already once used that tactic for his benefit, and given the right player, he can do that again. Make no mistake, Ohtani is that player.
Heading into the offseason, the Mets likely want a course correction on their DH situation. While Daniel Vogelbach performed, their right-handed platoon options faltered. That leaves the Mets looking to upgrade from Darin Ruf or looking to start anew. Ideally, they would look to start anew.
Certainly, the Mets could look to blow that situation up for the right player. Ohtani is the right player. Since his rookie season in 2018, Ohtani has a 137 wRC+. That is second only to Yordan Alvarez among designated hitters. Really, Ohtani has become the second best DH in all of baseball.
We also see the Mets need to address their starting pitching. Jacob deGrom is going to opt out. Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker have player options. The Mets need to make a decision on how to rebuild their rotation.
Since undergoing Tommy John, the 2022 season was Ohtani’s first real full season as a starter. For a bad Angels team, he was 15-7 with a 2.33 ERA, 1.027 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, and an 11.9 K/9. That K/9 figure lead the American League and was second in all of baseball. He also averaged nearly six innings per start.
Revisit the Mets situation for a second. They need to address their DH spot. Ohtani is the second best in the sport. They need to rebuild their rotation. Ohtani has pitched like a number two starter. Ohtani has a good relationship with Mets GM Billy Eppler, and Cohen has the financial might and will to sign Ohtani to an extension. Certainly, the marketing locally, nationally, and abroad makes him all the more enticing to the Mets.
The only thing standing in the Mets way will be the Angels asking price. If there is the opportunity to sign Ohtani to an extension, the Mets should meet whatever price the Angels are asking. Really, there are no untouchables in the Mets organization when it comes to Ohtani.
Sure, there may be a limit as to the package you may be willing to offer, but the Mets must keep in mind they are getting TWO players with Ohtani. They’re getting a star DH. They’re getting a top of the rotation caliber pitcher. They’re getting a superstar with immense likeability and marketability. He is going to make the Mets significantly better, and he is going to make them a ton of money.
Ohtani in a Mets uniform would be a dream come true for the Mets. He is everything they want and need. If he’s out there on the trade market, the Mets absolutely must do everything in their power to make him a Met for the rest of his career. That starts in 2022.
Before getting all undone about the Gold Glove Award snubs, we need to take note of the fact Juan Soto was a finalist for right field. Soto was literally the worst right fielder in 2022 with a -15 OAA. In fact, he was the second worst fielder in all of baseball.
That is according to OAA. Despite OAA being developed and becoming more trusted, it is not actually a part of the Gold Glove methodology. Per Rawlings, Gold Glove winners and finalists are a mix of coaches votes and SDI. Here’s the problem. Soto was also terrible according to that index. In fact, he was the second worst right fielder.
That brings us to the Mets. Before proceeding, it should be noted despite Luis Guillorme being top three in SDI for second baseman, he did not have enough innings to quality. That was even with Guillorme having a 6 OAA making him one of the best fielders in all of baseball. Again, there is an innings requirement, so we move along.
Francisco Lindor was the seventh best fielder in the NL by OAA and the the second best shortstop in all of baseball. However, SDI had him sixth, and apparently, the coaches didn’t love him. Lindor and Mets fans shouldn’t be too upset because Nico Hoerner led in SDI and was third in OAA, and he still was not nominated.
Jeff McNeil was the second best second baseman in the NL by OAA. He was fifth in SDI. He wasn’t a finalist. He spent time in both outfield spots as well, but he was one of the best fielders. To be fair, McNeil should not have won over Tommy Edman or Daulton Varsho. However, he was signicantly better than Brendan Donovan.
There was also Brandon Nimmo. He had a 6 OAA in center tying him for fourth in the NL. With Varsho being deemed a utility player, Nimmo was tied for third. SDI didn’t love him ranking him ninth. Coaches apparently don’t love his defense, so he didn’t get consideration for the Gold Glove.
As we see, while Rawlings may incorporate SDI and say offense doesn’t count, that’s not entirely true. After all, Soto, a truly terrible outfielder, got a nomination. This wasn’t as bad as Rafael Palmeiro, but this one does rank up there.
These snubs aren’t anything new for the Mets. Bartolo Colon led the league in DRS in 2016 and did not win. Last year, Taijuan Walker was the best defensive pitcher, but he didn’t win because he didn’t have enough innings at the right time of the season even if he would have enough at the end of the season to qualify. Lindor was the best shortstop in all of baseball last year per OAA, and he didn’t win.
On the bright side, Tomas Nido was nominated, and it was well deserved too. He may be the first Mets catcher to ever win the Gold Glove. Considering this franchise had Jerry Grote and Gary Carter, that would certainly be a huge accomplishment.
In the end, the Gold Glove was symbolic of this Mets season. The effort and results were there, but in the end, they aren’t going to be taking the trophy home. Hopefully, things will be better next year, both for the Mets and whomever is deciding who should be a Gold Glove finalist.
When seasons don’t end the way you want or expect, people look for a reason or a scapegoat. To wit, the New York Mets announced both Billy Eppler and Buck Showalter were returning next season. On the one hand, it would seem obvious that was the case, but there was a collapse, so it was best to state it outright.
Certainly, both Eppler and Showalter have their fair share of the blame for what happened. However, it is much deeper and much more layered than that.
The seminal moment most Mets fans point to is Starling Marte‘s hand injury in the September 6 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ask a Mets fans, and they staunchly believe the Mets win the division if Marte doesn’t get hurt. To a certain extent, there is truth to that.
After all, it meant more Tyler Naquin, who was terrible in September batting .185/.232/.308. He was so poor he was left off the postseason roster despite his terrific numbers against Yu Darvish, a pitcher the Mets never hit.
Looking at Naquin, that should have us revisit the Eppler point. There was a post hoc analysis of the Mets trade deadline moves (which were debated in real time). Prior to the Daniel Vogelbach trade, Mets DHs had a 79 wRC+. From Vogelbach’s firsts game with the Mets to the end of the season, that mark improved to a 102 wRC+.
However, that was mostly Vogelbach. Against left-handed pitching. Darin Ruf had a 20 OPS+ with the Mets. Mark Vientos and Francisco Álvarez were throw into pennant races and struggled. Notably, Gary Cohen was highly critical of the Mets decision making process noting how the Mets didn’t call them up when there was a chance during the season and put too much on them.
To that point, the Atlanta Braves called up Michael Harris and Vaughn Grissom well in advance of September games, and they got much better production. As an aside, the Braves are again extending their young core while the Mets aren’t, but that’s a separate discussion for another day.
All of the above is a worthwhile discussion, however, it is still not getting to the root cause. The Mets collapse began at Citi Field against the Washington Nationals. The Mets would lose two out of three games. It was part of the Mets worst stretch of the season.
From September 3 to September 14, the Mets were 5-6 against the Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins, and Chicago Cubs. During that stretch, the Mets three game lead shrunk to a half game. Over a stretch where the Mets could put the division away, they put the division back in play allowing the Braves to sweep the Mets forcing the Mets to the Wild Card.
Fast-forward for a second to the Atlanta Braves series. There were a number of problems in that series. Chief among them was the starting pitching failed. Figuring out how to prevent this from happening again requires diagnosing how that happened. The answer may be unsatisfying to some, but it is as simple as fatigue.
Carlos Carrasco pitched a combined 121 2/3 innings over the previous two seasons. He would pitch 152 this season. At the 64 inning mark this season, Carrasco had a 3.52 ERA and was averaging 5 2/3 innings per start. After that, he had a 4.30 ERA averaging under five innings per start.
He had one of the Mets bad losses in September. On September 27, he allowed four runs to the Marlins over three innings. That was one of many games the Mets wanted back.
Taijuan Walker again had a poor second half, but he did salvage it a bit in September. Still, he faltered against the Pirates, and he took the loss against the Milwaukee Brewers. Both were big spots, and he and the Mets wish they had those games back.
Of course, neither Carrasco nor Walker were the biggest culprits, the ultimate blame seems to be directed at Chris Bassitt. Last year, Bassitt pitched 157 1/3 innings, and he had only thrown over 100 innings one other time in his career.
After his September 7 start, he hit the 161 1/3 inning mark. At that point, he had a 3.24 ERA while averaging a little over six innings per start. After that, Bassitt fell apart against the Cubs and Braves. He was very good against bad teams in the Pirates and Oakland Athletics.
Max Scherzer dealt with oblique issues. Jacob deGrom had a blister issue. Neither would ever admit it impacted their performances, but essentially, they were compromised pitchers. When you build a team on starting pitching, you can’t have all five starters limping to the finish line. That is exactly what the Mets had.
Unfortunately, they did not have the hitting to overcome this. That was apparent in Atlanta when they scored all of seven runs. Over the final month of the season, in their losses, they averaged 2.5 runs per game. Part of this was the Mets approach at the plate.
The Mets hit 171 homers this season ranked 15th in the majors. Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor accounted for 38.6% of the Mets home run production. The next highest was Eduardo Escobar with 20, and he hit almost half of them in September. Essentially, for most of the season, if Alonso and Lindor weren’t hitting it out of the park, no one was.
Combine that with very questionable managing from Buck Showalter in Atlanta and the postseason, and you have a 101 Mets team who fails to win the division. You have a Mets team who gets one hit in an elimination game.
With the Mets, it was no one thing. It was exhausted starting pitching who faltered. It was an offense overly reliant on two players. It was a manager who struggled in bad games making poor decisions in big games. And yes, it was a front office who failed to fully address the teams deeper issues at the trade deadline.
When all was said and done, this was a team built to sustain the rigors of the regular season. However, it was not prepared and built to last deep into the season and go deep into October. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it is difficult to overlook now.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally published on MMO