If you tune into WFAN (why would you do that yourself), you will hear the narrative being pushed that the Steve Cohen tenure as New York Mets owner has not been successful. If you hear someone espouse that, please ignore them because they are just espousing ignorance.
That’s not to say there haven’t been missteps. Of course, there have been missteps.
Since purchasing the Mets, Cohen has had difficulty building the front office he envisioned. A very large part of that is the fact Cohen wanted the best of the best for the role, and David Stearns was not available until this year. When Stearns became available, Cohen pounced.
What is important with the rocky GM history is Cohen’s response to each of them. With Jared Porter, his alleged improprieties cost him his job. The same for Zack Scott. This led to the hiring of Billy Eppler, which was a mixed bag.
What was interesting during Scott’s tenure is he traded Pete Crow-Armstrong for Javier Baez and Trevor Williams. At the time, the Mets were in first place and the only team in the division over .500. At the time, no one knew injuries would dismantle that team, and the thumbs down drama would ensue.
What Cohen did learn from that is not to double down on a flawed team. We saw that at the trade deadline this past season as the Mets moved David Robertson, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Tommy Pham, and Dominic Leone. Having learned lessons, the Mets completely revamped their minor league system.
Looking back on that 2021 season, Luis Rojas was foisted upon Porter and Scott. With Stearns being hired, he was permitted to fire Buck Showalter even though he was a popular figure with the media and players. Again, Cohen learned a lesson.
People will want to harp on and mock the signings of Scherzer and Verlander. However, that purposefully ignores the 101 win season. You can’t mock the signings while ignoring where it was successful.
We can opt to hold the Mets payroll and failures against them in 2023. It was definitively a failure. However, it was a failure borne out of an owner attempting to win and build off of a successful season. When it didn’t work, Cohen changed course.
Keep in mind, this wasn’t the Mets 2017 sell-off to save money and collect right-handed relief prospect after right-handed relief prospect. No, Cohen continued to use his financial might to fortify the farm system.
Cohen is now entering his fourth year of ownership. Let’s take stock of where the Mets are now.
They have Stearns as the POBO. They have a future Hall of Famer in Francisco Lindor. They kept Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil over the long term. Top prospects like Francisco Alvarez and Mark Vientos have had successes to build upon for 2024. Kodai Senga was phenomenal, and Edwin Diaz is coming back healthy next year.
The Mets are in great shape to build a competitor in 2024, and they have what they need to make the Mets contenders year-in and year-out. If you don’t think this has been a success, you’re a fool.
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.
Just when you got good vibes going with the New York Mets winning six in a row to open July, they enter the All Star Break losing two in a row. The Saturday loss wasn’t that bad as you knew it was going to be a tough game.
The Mets started David Peterson, who battled and kept the Mets in the game. They had Pete Alonso and Francisco Alvarez up as the tying run in the ninth, but Josh Hader was better. You tip your cap and move onto the next game.
The next game was the real problem.
After what seemed like a resurgence, Max Scherzer again wasn’t good. The struggling Manny Machado tagged him with a three run homer in the first inning. This wouldn’t prove to be one of those get the ace early because he’ll shut you down moments because Machado would hit a two run homer against Scherzer in the fifth.
The Mets offense sputtered, and this time Joe Musgrove didn’t need an oil slick on his ears to do it.
Tommy Pham went down with an injury. Buck Showalter made sure to bat one of his old Baltimore Orioles, DJ Stewart, above Alvarez and Brett Baty. Really, no one was particularly good on the day, and Brandon Nimmo continues to be mired in an 0-for-20 stretch. He’s also 3-for-30 in July.
To a certain extent, these last two games might have caused fans needless hand-wringing. We did get a little excited with the winning streak, especially with it coming against good teams. We thought there might be a glimmer of hope that the Mets were getting back into the race. With the way the starting pitching was going, there was good reason for it.
As it stands now, the Mets are 18.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves. They are also seven games back in the Wild Card. They trail five teams for that last Wild Card spot including the San Diego Padres who leaped ahead of the Mets after this series.
It’s too much to say this series ended the season. After all, their putrid June probably did that. Rather, this might’ve just been another nail in the coffin. No, it’s not over, and we have seen stranger things happen (1973, 2016). However, it is a series like this that should have us temper our expectations until further notice.
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.
Everywhere you look, the sky is falling for the New York Mets. They lost seven in a row before winning a game, and then they promptly lost again making them losers in seven of eight.
They’ve lost 11 series this season after losing 11 all of last season. They are four games under .500. Pete Alonso is on the IL. Who knows what to believe with Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander anymore. Buck Showalter has been bad and completely out of touch.
Guess what? Despite all of that, the Mets are only three games out in the Wild Card race. That’s not remotely insurmountable for this team. While we’re understandably focused on the negatives, there are plenty of positives happening with the team right now.
Mark Canha has completely turned his season around. Since May 14, he is hitting .300/.400/.467 with four doubles, two homers, and 11 RBI.
Tommy Pham has done the same. Since May 17 he is hitting .333/.392/.711 with six doubles, one triple, three homers, and 13 RBI.
Eduardo Escobar‘s resurgence has been oft discussed. Since May 12, he is hitting .378/.425/.487 with a double, homer, and five RBI.
Of course, all of this pales in comparison to what Francisco Álvarez is doing. He’s playing like an All-Star and Rookie of the Year candidate. On the season, he has a 128 wRC+. He’s sixth among all rookies in fWAR, and he is a top five catcher in all of baseball.
Francisco Lindor is a second-half player, and he seems primed to be just that for the Mets again this season. Since June 4, he is hitting .250/.357/.542 with a double, two homers, and three RBI while playing Gold Glove defense.
The Mets are in this race even with them faltering of late. They have an owner able to take on payroll to make a run. Mostly, you can argue, the Mets have everything right where they want them seeing how the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies were in similar situations in recent years only to make a charge to the World Series.
The Mets dreams of winning a World Series isn’t over. They are very much alive and in postseason contention. They just need to hang in there.
There is just so much to talk about with the New York Mets at the moment. On the good, we have Pete Alonso on pace for 60 home runs, and Francisco Álvarez increasingly looks like a lock for the National League Rookie of the Year.
Buck Showalter can’t seem to help himself. He threw Mark Vientos into a platoon for no good reason. Daniel Vogelbach looks done, and Tommy Pham may just be pushing past Vogelbach as the player to keep.
While the focus is everywhere and anywhere, we all seem to overlook just how good of a season Brandon Nimmo is having. Nimmo was out there in the last game to remind us how good and important he is:
Another phenomenal play from Brandon Nimmo in CF. pic.twitter.com/Nx83lPEDtB
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) May 31, 2023
Nimmo made yet another great defensive play in center. That play was important too because his robbing Nick Castellanos of a home run kept the game tied at zero in what would eventually be a 2-0 Mets win. Considering it was a deep dive to left for Castellanos, we probably also avoided something horrible happening.
Defensively, Nimmo has been very good for a few seasons now. This year, Nimmo has a 2 OAA which ranks sixth in the National League. Since the start of last season, Nimmo has a 6 OAA which rates him as the sixth best in the National League.
Offensively, Nimmo has a 134 wRC+. That rates as the 33rd best in all of baseball. Among center fielders, Nimmo behind just Aaron Judge and Mike Trout. Of course, Nimmo rates ahead of both of them defensively. He’s also much closer to them as an overall player as you may think.
Nimmo’s 2.0 fWAR trails Judge’s 2.9, but it is ahead of Trout’s 1.9. Like with wRC+, they are the top three center fielders in the game. Overall, Nimmo’s 2.0 fWAR is tied for 14th overall. That rates him as the fourth best NL outfielder. That should mean he’s an All-Star, but every year, he just seems to get overlooked.
In terms of bWAR, Nimmo’s 1.7 is second on the New York Mets only to Alonso. It rates him as 34th overall and 15th among outfielders. He’s eighth among center fielders and third among NL center fielders.
Overall, Nimmo is having another great year, and he should be an All-Star for the first time in his career. Of course, he may not be as people tend to overlook all the great things he does. After all, with everything going on with the Mets, we tend to have our focus in other directions even if we need to take time to acknowledge Nimmo.
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.