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.
When Pete Alonso cursed on the field, it did bother some people. Sure, it was after 10:00 and worse things are said in the stands, but it is going to bother some people. That’s fine and to each their own.
However, most of the people who were upset or offended are not the manager of the New York Mets. Yes, Buck Showalter was not happy with the comments. That’s fine. Whether it was actually the language or how his team is perceived, he has every right to be upset.
He can and should address it with Alonso. He can and should speak with the team about how they represent the Mets. He should never have publicly aired his grievance publicly with one of his New York Yankee buddies:
Michael Kay: “Did it bother you when Pete (Alonso) cursed on the field?”
Buck Showalter: “Of course it did.”
— Metsmerized Online (@Metsmerized) May 23, 2023
On the Michael Kay Show, Showalter brought up the topic on his own. He wasn’t asked about it. However, he felt compelled to bring it up. He then went on to criticize Alonso for cursing and talked about how he addressed it with Alonso so it’ll never happen again.
This is disloyalty to the Mets best player this season.
You can see why other fanbases dislike Alonso. He is who he is, and he is unapologetic about it. He’s a rah-rah guy. However, he is not a bad guy. Not even close.
When Alonso won the Home Run Derby, he donated the proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project and Tunnel to Towers. He’s been available for every interview, and he does everything he can to promote the Mets and the sport.
The LFGM was a thing between him and the fans, and he got carried away after a great win. For some reason, that moment irked Showalter so much he complained about it about a week later to his old buddy Michael Kay.
If Alonso were to criticize a teammate publicly, Showalter would be the first to say that needs to stay in-house, but those rules apparently don’t apply to Showalter. Extrapolating further, the Mets have a radio deal with WCBS, a sister station of WFAN. He went on with Kay to voice that displeasure.
There are beat writers who cover the Mets. Showalter didn’t give them that story despite them carrying water for him for over a year now. He didn’t give the story to SNY who covers the team. No, he gave the story to Kay.
Worse yet, Showalter brought it up so it could be discussed. This is not remotely acceptable. This is not how a manager comports himself, especially over a very minor off the field issue if you could even call it that.
Alonso deserved to be treated better by his manager. Showalter needs to keep things in-house unless he wants Alonso and the team publicly chastising him for overplaying Tommy Pham, running to pinch hit Daniel Vogelbach for Mark Vientos, and his general disdain for playing the Mets young players.
The Mets players won’t do that because they’re professionals. Needless to say, if that ever did happen, you can bet Showalter would appear on YES to tell everyone his problems with it.
The New York Mets are making the right move calling up Gary Sánchez. We know Sánchez has the ability to have a game changing type of bat, and he has the type of power the Mets are trying to add to the roster.
Sánchez had an opt out date fast approaching. It could be a mix of small sample sizes, good luck, and some adjustments, but Sánchez has been raking in Triple-A Syracuse. The Mets should get a look at Sánchez at the Major League level before letting another team benefit from the risk and work the Mets took on signing Sánchez to a minor league deal.
While a smart decision, it comes with serious risk given who is in charge of the Mets.
Buck Showalter has already given Mets fans reason to be leery on his handling with young players. Mark Vientos hit a big home run, and he sat the next day in favor of Tommy Pham and Daniel Vogelbach, two players whose failures necessitated Vientos’ promotion to the majors.
Based on Showalter’s comments, it seems he may be leaning towards a third base platoon between Vientos and Brett Baty. Baty just escaped one with Eduardo Escobar, but because Showalter is reticent to use his young players over his veterans, it appears two players who should be together in the starting lineup are now going to battle for one spot.
That brings us back to Francisco Álvarez.
When Omar Narváez went down with injury, Álvarez was called up to the majors. Prior to this moment, the Mets always said once Álvarez is called up, he is going to be the primary catcher. Instead, Showalter declared Tomás Nido would start over Álvarez.
It literally took Nido developing an eye issue causing his ineffectiveness for Álvarez to get the starting job he should have had. That was the organizational plan, but on his own volition, Showalter abandoned it.
Looking at Álvarez now, he is an excellent defensive catcher. He just hit a huge homer. Over the past 21 games, he has hit four homers, an .807 OPS, and a 128 wRC+. That would make him one of the Mets best hitters over this stretch, so naturally, he can’t bat anything other than ninth in this lineup.
Now, Álvarez sitting in the series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays was overblown. He’s a catcher. Day games after night games always means your catcher sits. Showalter didn’t need the nicked up excuse. Álvarez is a catcher. Catchers are always nicked up.
From what we’ve seen, the Mets can’t take Álvarez out of the everyday lineup. If the Mets want to play Sánchez, fine, He can DH. He can catch the second end of the doubleheader or the day game after the night game. That’s the job of the backup catcher which Sánchez should undoubtedly be.
Make no mistake, Álvarez is better than Sánchez. Whereas Sánchez struggles defensively, Álvarez is very good behind the plate. Whereas Sánchez never fulfilled his offensive potential, Álvarez is giving us very real glimpses into what he can be.
In the end, the Mets were smart to call up Sánchez. If utilized properly, he can be a real weapon for the Mets. However, if he usurps Álvarez this will be a disaster, and it will the latest in Showalter trying to put a stop to the Mets youth movement. The Mets simply cannot let that happen.