Dec 20

Just How Much Better Are The Mets?

New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen vowed the Mets would compete in 2019, and his early moves dictated his seriousness in following through with that promise. Trading for closer Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano, with whom the Mets will be on the hook for roughly $100 million remaining on the latter’s contract was indeed a big splash.

In addition, the Mets signed catcher Wilson Ramos to fill a significant void, outfielder Rajai Davis to a minor league contract to compete in center field, and brought back former closer Jeurys Familia to fill a set-up role. Combined, they are appreciably better than the team that finished 22 games under .500 last year, but not close enough to be the contender Van Wagenen hopes.

However, the three teams that finished ahead of them in the National League East last season also improved. Atlanta added third baseman Josh Donaldson and brought back catcher Brian McCann; Washington added lefty starter Patrick Corbin, but doesn’t appear to have a chance to bring back Bryce Harper; and Philadelphia added outfielder Andrew McCutcheon and second baseman Jean Segura, and will host Manny Machado today. They are also reportedly interested in Harper.

Should the Phillies land both Machado and Harper it would make them the odds-on favorites to win the East, ahead of the Braves and Nationals, with the Mets slated for fourth place regardless of what they do, and the Marlins last, despite whom they bring in for catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Ramos was a better signing then Realmuto because it enabled the Mets to keep prospects outfielder Brandon Nimmo and shortstop Amed Rosario, or possibly Noah Syndergaard. Dealing Syndergaard was never going to happen, but not surrendering players was essential to the Mets, who are thin in major league ready talent.

I wrote at the time of the Cano-Diaz trade, which enabled the Mets to shed the remaining $26 million left on Jay Bruce’s contract (that would amount to only one year of Cano’s deal). I didn’t like the trade – still don’t – but added we had to wait on the rest of Van Wagenen’s offseason to draw a full conclusion.

I’m not crazy about bringing back Familia, who will go into the set-up role. I would have preferred they make a serious run at Andrew Miller, which would fill the void of a left-handed reliever. Miller was off last year because of inflammation in his right knee which accounted for two stints on the disabled list, including one of 60 days.

Philadelphia is also a player for Miller, as are a half-dozen other teams. With the money earmarked for Cano and Familia, the Mets are on the outside looking in on Miller, who worked 96.2 innings over the past two seasons.

They still have a myriad of questions: Ramos has a long history of injuries; Peter Alfonso is untested at first base; Cano is 36 and on a downward slide; Rosario has offensive issues; Yoenis Cespedes will be out until at least the All-Star break; the bullpen is still thin despite Ruiz and Familia; and the rotation, outside of Jacob deGrom, is more potential than proven performance.

Van Wagenen has talked a good game so far and the Mets have been on their fair share of back pages but have won nothing, yet. The Mets seem more inclined to make lower profile deals than a blockbuster trade or sign a major free agent.

What the Mets have now is what they’ll likely go into spring training with and that isn’t good enough to contend, which we already knew.

Jun 30

Mets Waste Another DeGrom Start

The Mets began the season favored by many to make the playoffs. After an 11-1 start, the Mets are 16 games under .500 and currently in sole possession of last place in the NL East.

They just finished their worst ever month of June at 5-21 and just this week assistant general manager John Ricco officially putting up the “For Sale’’ sign outside Citi Field.

DE GROM: Another start wasted. (AP)

DE GROM: Another start wasted. (AP)

They are on pace to win just 65 games in manager Mickey Callaway’s first season. Callaway, who has already called a team meeting – something he said he didn’t want to do – said after today’s 5-2 loss to the Miami Marlins, who already waived a white flag before Opening Day, yelling at his players in public won’t do anything.

Maybe not, but it might feel good to let off a lot of steam.

Outside of stinking up the joint, the only thing the Mets have consistently done this season is waste sterling starts by Jacob deGrom. They are now 6-11 when deGrom starts. He is having an All-Star type season with a 1.80 ERA.

Today, the did every wrong thing imaginable.

The Marlins broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth when Wilmer Flores misplayed a dribbler up the first base line. Flores hesitated instead of aggressively charging the ball.  Of course, first base isn’t Flores’ natural position. Dominick Smith is a supposed the be a highly-touted first base prospect.

However, the lefty-swinging Smith didn’t start for the third straight game against a right-handed pitcher.

This begs the obvious question: If Smith doesn’t play against right-handed pitching, then why is he here?

Then, in the seventh, the Marlins broke the game open on J.T. Realmuto’s two-run double, which was set up by Amed Rosario’s error.

In the seventh, Jose Reyes, pinch-hit for deGrom and jogged to first. Callaway calmly confronted Reyes in the dugout, and the player everybody is wondering why he’s still here, lamely told the manager “he felt something’’ in his legs.

If you hung around long enough, you might have felt something in your gut.

With the Mets having eight games against Philadelphia and Washington prior to the All-Star break, it’s conceivable they could be more than 20 games under by then.

It’s conceivable they could be as many as 40 games under when this miserable season ends.

“I’m tired of losing, to be honest with you,” said a glum deGrom.

As we all are.

Jun 28

Mets Place Fire Sale Sign Out In Flushing

The Mets are on record saying they will be sellers at the deadline for the second straight summer. For a team 14 games below .500, two games from the NL East basement and this comes as no surprise.

And, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the same thing happens next season.

“Obviously, the trade deadline is coming up [July 31]. And, that’s a big pressure point in which to better your club,’’ said John Ricco, who, along with Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi, are teaming to take over for Sandy Alderson. “Certainly, we’re going to take advantage of that and look to be active.’’

Ricco said he’ll listen to calls about everybody, including Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. Personally, I’m open for the Mets trading anybody right now except deGrom, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. Anybody else, they can do want they want.

I would keep those three because the Mets do have to field a team next year.

First on the block should be Jeurys Familia, who as a closer should bring something in return. Plenty of teams can use a closer. Next would be Asdrubal Cabrera. The Boston Red Sox, with Dustin Pedroia ailing and in a tight race with the Yankees, need a second baseman. Brandon Phillips might not be enough.

Third would be veterans such as Jose Bautista, who is playing well; Jose Reyes, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier. They probably wouldn’t get much for any of the four, but lower-ranked prospects aren’t out of the question, especially if put in a package.

I wouldn’t be against dealing Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz. Those three would likely bring back the most in terms of prospects or young major-league ready talent.

The Mets don’t have much talent in the minor leagues but do have major league prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, both I wouldn’t mind see dealt.

Jun 19

Alderson In No-Win Situation

Jacob deGrom isn’t my all-time favorite Met, but he’s close. I don’t want the Mets to trade him, but if GM Sandy Alderson pulls the trigger on a deal, I would understand the reasoning. I just don’t have faith he’d get it right. I don’t have faith he’d get it right with Noah Syndergaard, either.

ALDERSON: In no win situation. (AP)

ALDERSON: In no-win situation. (AP)

There’s no doubt the Mets could get something substantial for either one, but just how much? Both are highly regarded, but to put either one – or both – on the block is sending a signal the Mets won’t be competitive for at least four years.

The Mets are an old team, and by that time it is likely Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Jeurys Familia, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes and probably the bullpen would be gone. Under the Alderson regime, the bullpen turns over nearly every year.

And although Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz have pitched well over the path month, that’s such a small sample size to assume they become certified aces over the next four years.

The present roster has only two prospects – Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo – I’m confident will pan out. I don’t include Amed Rosario, but there’s always hope.

Given that, if Alderson keeps both deGrom and Syndergaard, there’s little to believe the Mets will have the necessary pieces to build a contender. With their history, it’s safe to believe they will not do any significant spending, and their farm system is barren, so they won’t build that way, either.

The last three games, including deGrom’s gem last night, have been fun to watch, but it’s not enough to think they’ve turned the corner, as even the 1962 Mets won three in a row.

So, whether or not deGrom is traded, will it even matter?

May 04

Numbers Say Mets Not “Playing Game The Right Way”

There was praise yesterday for manager Mickey Callaway for being positive while the Mets’ world seemed to be crumbling. However, there’s only so much that positivity can bring to a team that has lost eight of its last 12 games.

Callaway said the Mets “are playing the game the right way,’’ which is a positive, yet inaccurate, concept.

When a struggling Amed Rosario doesn’t run out a pop-up, that’s not playing the game the right way, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the ball landing in foul territory. The ball was only a few feet foul.

And, it’s not just the first time that has happened.

Yoenis Cespedes is another who only hustles when the mood strikes.

As far as Cespedes is concerned, yes, he’s talented, but he’s also on pace to strike out over 250 times. That’s obscene.

The Mets will never sit Cespedes for Brandon Nimmo, who has a much higher on-base percentage and always hustles. What the Mets will do eventually is regret signing Cespedes, who, despite his physical gifts, has several holes in his game that will prevent him from being a truly great player.

Conversely, I don’t believe the Mets will ever regret giving Nimmo more playing time.

As a team, the Mets have struck out 263 times compared to only 116 walks, slightly more than a 2-to-1 ratio. The Mets are ranked 26th with a .231 average and 26th with a .688 OPS. They are also a dismal 20th with 129 runs scored.

The Mets have only one regular, Asdrubal Cabrera, who is hitting over .300 (.327). Nimmo, by the way, is hitting .294 with a .478 on-base percentage. The only other regular hitting over .250 in Todd Frazier at .255.

The strikeouts-to-walks ratios for some of the starters are deplorable. Consider: Cespedes (46-9), Rosario (25-4) and the catching duo of Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido a combined 23-8.

The pitching, which got off to a good start, has fizzled with a 4.14 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. They are also ranked in the middle in hits, runs and homers given up.

You can make statistics read anything you’d like, but some of the more significant ones are screaming the Mets have some serious problems.