Nov 27

Adding Machado, Harper Or Cano Won’t Be Enough To Lift The Mets

New York sports-radio is all for the Mets signing Manny Machado, but that would be one of the worst things the organization could do. Then again, New York sports-talk radio is for a lot of things that don’t make sense.

Signing both Machado and Bryce Harper would set the franchise back over a decade, by which time all those young, vaunted arms would likely be gone.

New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen vowed the Mets would be competitive this season, but adding Machado or Harper won’t make that happen because that expensive a power bat doesn’t begin to fill all the holes facing them.

There are numerous questions surrounding the rotation beginning with Jacob deGrom who is coming off a historic season. The thing about historic seasons is they usually happen once. While it is doubtful deGrom will duplicate his 1.70 ERA, but it would be great if he won more than 10 games even if it means having a higher ERA.

Zack Wheeler demonstrated breakout signs, but can he continue to progress? So far, Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard have been an uncashed check regarding their potential. Will it ever happen for either of them? The New York papers have been loaded with articles about the Mets shopping Syndergaard, but their asking price is exorbitant.

That leaves another rotation question: Who will be the fifth starter?

The bullpen needs to be completely rebuilt, which means at least six more questions.

The Mets’ best catcher last season regarding defense, game calling and controlling the running game was Devon Mesaraco, but there’s been no mention of bringing him back. There has been talk of trading for the Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto, but Miami wants a haul in return. Kevin Plawecki figures to come back but the odds are long for Travis d’Arnaud.

First base is another wide-open position as Dominick Smith hasn’t proven worthy of getting the position long-term. We know the Mets aren’t sold on Wilmer Flores. The Diamondbacks will listen to offers for Paul Goldschmidt. I’d rather have him than Realmuto, but he’s also going to cost plenty, both in terms of prospects and salary.

Seattle is actively trying to trade second baseman Robinson Cano, and in hope of finding a sucker reached out to the Mets. Cano is 36, coming off a PED suspension and with $120 million remaining on his contract through 2023. Cano also has a reputation from his years with the Yankees for not hustling. That hasn’t changed much from his years in Seattle. Do you want that kind of player on the Mets?

Trading for Cano would be a catastrophic deal of monumental proportions, especially since second base isn’t a priority. Personally, I’d rather have Jeff McNeil, who hustles and has a high on-base percentage.

Third base belongs to Todd Frazier unless the Mets can do better, and that doesn’t mean Machado, whose, ”I’m not Johnny Hustle,” quote during the playoffs has come back to haunt him. The only thing worse than saying something so stupid was his trying to walk it back. If you say something like that. at least own up to it.

The Mets are also open for a right-handed hitting outfielder with Yoenis Cespedes out until at least the All-Star break.

Cano at $120 million and Machado and Harper at a reported $300 million each represent a lot of money which can go a long way at answering all their questions, which I have at least 16 at last count.

If the Mets are going to sign anybody to a long-term mega contract, it will go to deGrom, and even that won’t help them. Competitive isn’t what the Mets are going to be in 2019. Not even close.

Nov 15

DeGrom Wins Cy Young Based On The Eye Test

In what was hardly a surprise, Jacob deGrom was the runaway winner in the National League Cy Young Award today.

In the end, deGrom’s Cy Young Award was less about analytics than it was about domination. The Mets’ ace dominated the voting like no game this season, collecting 29 of 30 first-place votes by the Baseball Writers Association of America – Washington’s Max Scherzer got the other – to become the sixth Cy Young Award winner in franchise history.

After a summer of debating over the value of wins and losses and pitching WAR, it all boiled down to nobody coming close to how easily deGrom handled hitters this season and in the process set a Major League record of closing the summer with 29 straight starts of giving up three runs or fewer runs.

Only once in 32 starts did he give up more than three runs. Once.

”I really do love competing, that is why we play this game, to go out there and compete,” deGrom said. ”Just every fifth day, it’s your day, and you want to stay out there as long as possible and try to put your team in a position to win. My thought process was, ‘Take the ball every fifth day and continue to try to put this team in a position to win and control what you can control.’ ”

What deGrom couldn’t control was the chatter about whether wins still matter in evaluating a pitcher’s effectiveness. Roger Clemens once told me a great pitcher will find a way of winning a game when things fall apart for his team. DeGrom finished at 10-9 with a major-league low 1.70 ERA (easily the most definitive statistic for a starter because it measures runs allowed which goes the furthest in determining whether a team wins or loses).

DeGrom’s ERA was the sixth lowest for a starter since 1969, when the mound was lowered as Major League Baseball tinkered to generate more offense.

There are other numbers that matter in evaluating a pitcher, such as 269 strikeouts in 217 innings pitched, and averaged 6.8 innings per start. DeGrom gave up a league-low ten homers, had one complete game, compared to Tom Seaver’s 18 complete games in his first of three Cy Young Award seasons. Dwight Gooden and R.A. Dickey are the other Mets to win baseball’s premier pitching award.

Despite his dominance, deGrom was frequently victimized by a porous bullpen and an offense that only gave him 3.5 runs a game, the worst support in the game for a starter. Overall, the Mets ranked 12th in the National League in scoring, and such paltry support was the genesis of the pro-analytic conversation after deGrom said winning the Cy Young Award was something that meant a lot to him.

At 30, deGrom is in his prime and will become a free agent after this season. He made $7.4 million this year and Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who was deGrom’s agent two weeks ago, has said it is a priority to re-sign him.

”Jacob clearly established himself as the best pitcher in baseball for 2018,” said Van Wagenen. ”His consistency and competitiveness were unmatched. I’ve always been impressed with his professional and dedicated approach on and off the field in addition to being a tremendous teammate.”

DeGrom’s ten victories are the fewest ever by a Cy Young Award winner in a non-strike-shortened season.

”This was one of my goals,” deGrom said. ”The team didn’t end up where we wanted to be this past season, but you kind of set personal goals, and I think being able to accomplish something that has been a dream of yours is just something special. To be a Cy Young Award winner, you’re in great company, and it truly is an honor.”

And, deserving based on the eye test, not by any new wave thinking.

Aug 02

Matz Has Tight Forearm; Cespedes Goes Under Knife

The Mets knew Steven Matz had a tired arm when they sent him out to be drubbed for seven runs in the first inning in Tuesday’s historic 25-4 beatdown in Washington. Nonetheless, 15 games under .500 at the time and the competitive portion of their season long over, the Mets still started Matz when he should have been resting his arm.

After the game Matz never should have started, the Mets said he has discomfort in his forearm, which, you might recall is what started all of Matt Harvey’s arm ailments.

“He did mention after the game that he had a little tightness or discomfort in his forearm,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “I think we will get him checked out and go from there.”

By checking out, that means an MRI.

Matz has struggled since July 12 with his ERA going up from 3.31 to 4.35.

CESPEDES UPDATE: Yoenis Cespedes was scheduled to undergo surgery Thursday on his right heel to remove bone calcification. Dr. Robert Anderson performed the procedure in Green Bay, Wis.

Cespedes is expected to undergo the same procedure on his left heel in the next two to three months.

WAHL BROUGHT UP: Reliever Bobby Wahl, who came to the Mets from Oakland in the Jeurys Familia trade, was brought up. Wahl threw 7.2 innings in seven games with the A’s last season. The 26-year-old reliever has a 2.20 ERA in the Pacific Coast League this season between the Mets and A’s affiliates.

Wahl averages 14.6 strikeouts and 3.8 walks per nine innings.

Jul 06

Maybe The Real Issue Is When DeGrom Might Ask To Be Traded

As the Major League Baseball trade deadline nears, the speculation mounts as to whether the Mets will trade Jacob deGrom. As the Mets continue to waste his starts, the better question could be: Will deGrom ask for a trade?

DE GROM: Another no decision.. (AP)

DE GROM: Another no decision.. (AP)

After his last start, deGrom said he was tired of losing, and you can’t blame him for voicing his frustration. He hasn’t come out and said he wants out, but it could happen.

After eight innings tonight, deGrom’s ERA fell to major league-low 1.79 after giving up one run on four hits in eight innings. He’ll be a no-brainer to represent the Mets in the All-Star Game. Incredibly, he has given up more than three runs only once this season and has given up two runs or less in 13 of his 17 starts, but has just five victories to show for it.

He has eight no-decisions, which a hard-luck pitcher should get over a full season. After tonight, deGrom has gone 15 straight starts where he’s given up three runs or less. DeGrom came away empty tonight, but the Mets did not, winning 5-1 on Jose Bautista’s game-ending grand slam.

Given his production, and the Mets’ desire to sell tickets and be competitive in 2019, there is no reason why they should deal him. But, he’s 30-years old and if the Mets aren’t a contender next year, then when?

Realistically, deGrom could be 34 or 35 the next time the Mets sniff October. DeGrom has said all the right things, but eventually, he’ll have to think of himself, and if winning is what matters to him, it might not be in Flushing.

May 03

Callaway Tries To Stay Positive Despite Blowout Loss

Now is when Mickey Callaway will earn his money and show the Mets what kind of manager they hired. It won’t tell all, but it will tell a lot.

After the Mets were torched 11-0 by Atlanta today, the second time they’ve been shutout in as many games. The Mets were swept by the Braves today and were outscored 21-2 in the process. The Mets are no longer in first place, so Callaway can’t say, “we’re still in good shape.’’ He can’t because the Mets are no longer in good shape.

Things just aren’t clicking and the Mets have lost eight of their last 12 games. They aren’t hitting; nobody is hitting. Today, Jason Vargas and Matt Harvey have struggled, with the latter’s relief ERA up over 10. The bullpen hasn’t been good lately, and today Amed Rosario didn’t run out a popup.

From the pitching end, Jacob deGrom is nursing a sore elbow; Harvey was rocked for five runs today; and, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz have not pitched well and the latter is hurting,

“I don’t think our guys aren’t giving up or aren’t playing hard,’’ Callaway said. “They just aren’t playing well. It’s part of a long season. They need to take care and keep their routine. They still are playing the game the right way.’’

The biggest things to take out of today’s game is that Callaway remained positive and didn’t rip his team publicly. After only 29 games (they are 17-12) it would do little good to go ballistic this early in the season.

As far as Harvey goes, well, it’s pretty clear if Callaway won’t give the ball to him if deGrom can’t go Monday. It’s also clear Callaway is studying Harvey, and today gave more of an analysis then Terry Collins ever did.

“The first few outs were good, then he tried yanking the ball,’’ Callaway said. “He’s really stiff right now. The way his body is working he was really not throwing through the catcher. He’s got a way to go. The life wasn’t there. He lost his feel for the zone.’’

Callaway hasn’t given up on Harvey so Harvey can’t give up on himself. It’s too long a season and the once-streaking Mets are only 1.5 games behind Atlanta.