Posts Tagged ‘Mets Rivals’

By Steven Inman

Sandy

Photo from NY Times

The Mets 2017 season, that started with so much promise, has been completely derailed by injuries to key players. The pitching staff that finished 2016 with the 3rd best ERA in MLB, has been the WORST in the majors with a 5.01 ERA. The pitchers that the front office believed could lead them back to the World Series have all dealt with injuries (Or in Matt Harvey’s case off the field troubles and regression) this season except for Jacob deGrom, who has been decent, but far from the elite arm he’s been the last few seasons. It must make fans wonder if Sandy Alderson and his team creating the blueprint around young pitchers was the right choice.

When Sandy Alderson came to New York, he had the plan of tearing everything down and following the San Francisco Giants mindset, which was to construct a team around one offensive star (Buster Posey for SF, Yoenis Cespedes for NYM) and pretty much all other offensive players were interchangeable, while building around superior pitching. The trio of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner were as formidable as any rotation in baseball for not one or two, but three championships. That model created a borderline dynasty, but it was short lived. Cain never had an ERA under four after his age 27 season, and Tim Lincecum now 32, is out of baseball. The Giants success while impressive, has a stroke of luck attached to it. Looking back on it, all of those postseason innings Cain and Lincecum threw turned out to just be too much mileage on their arms. The club has had a dismal start to 2017.

The Mets like all other franchises, want to make long runs in the postseason every season. The way their pitching has not been able to stay on the field the last few regular seasons, it’s fair to wonder if they’ll have the ability to do that. Even workhorses like Cain and Lincecum were not able to handle that kind of workload going on deep playoff runs after awhile.

Sandy Alderson did an excellent job of following the Giants model. He waited out long and expensive contracts left behind by the previous Met regime and made some shrewd trades to acquire future starters such as Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler. Offensively, Sandy has made it clear in his tenure with the Mets that home runs and walks are the most important traits he wants his position players to have, while defensive range and ability haven’t been considered as important. Hopefully for the Mets sake when the team calls up Amed Rosario in a few weeks, they can improve a very poor defense. The Atlanta Braves are also on record saying during their current rebuild that they’re trying to emulate the starting pitching plan the Mets have committed to.

With that said, there aren’t too many teams that build around pitching in today’s game. Obviously, you need quality pitching to win, nobody is disputing that, but with pitchers being as brittle as they ever have been, does it make sense when rebuilding to build a core around arms? Or does it make more sense when rebuilding with prospects to go after young hitters over pitching like the current Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs went with the opposite strategy of the Mets and Giants, selecting position players at the front ends of drafts such as Kris Bryant & Kyle Schwarber and trading big league pitching for Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo. The Houston Astros also have a nice young core of position players such as George Springer, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve. The ‘Stros have enjoyed the majors best record to start 2017.

The story of this Mets era, built around the arms of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler is far from over but at this point it’s a legitimate question if this group can stay healthy enough to win the franchise’s first World Series since 1986. The 5 starters mentioned, who the Mets were hoping would anchor their pitching staff for the next decade, have never pitched a single turn in the same rotation.

When all is said and done will the Mets regret building around pitching over hitting?

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By Steven Inman

Join me and former WSJU personality Rob DeLucia as we break down the Mets offseason, the Nationals addition of Matt Wieters, what is going on with Michael Conforto and more! If you have a question you want answered in the next podcast leave it below in the comment section or leave it on The Mets Report Facebook page.

By Steven Inman

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Photo by Fox Sports

After losing the N.L. Wild Card Game, the Mets entered the offseason with a long list of needs. The club did most of their heavy lifting early by bringing back Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker. The Mets feel their bullpen is an area that needs improvement with the possibility that closer Jeurys Familia will miss time with a suspension after an alleged domestic violence incident. The Mets reportedly had interest in a few relievers that have gone off the board recently such as Brad Ziegler, who signed a multi-year contract with division rival Miami.

Junichi Tazawa, 30, would also have been a good fit for the Mets to eat up some middle relief innings but he also went to the Marlins. The Mets have been saying to agents that they are unable to add more salary now until they can move one of their expensive outfielders, most likely Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson. The Mets have gotten more bites on Granderson than Bruce but neither has been seen by other teams as much more than a salary dump. Granderson finished the season red hot for the Mets and in my opinion is the better fit for New York in 2017. The Mets should have just dumped Jay Bruce so they don’t get left out in the cold on the reliever market. The longer the Mets stubbornly hold on to Bruce, the more likely they are going to miss out on adding to this bullpen.

The trade for Jay Bruce was very perplexing when it happened as the Mets didn’t really have a fit for him and the team was overly left-handed before the deal. The team was probably hoping Bruce, who didn’t cost much to get, would get hot like Cespedes did when acquired the summer before, but Bruce went on to not hit at all in his 2 plus months in Queens. That should have been the reason for the Mets to decline Bruce’s $13M team option as he really didn’t have much trade value. There is also the legitimate question of whether Bruce can handle the spotlight of playing in New York City. Some Mets fans believe picking up Bruce’s option was done as a “hedge” to protect themselves if Cespedes departed. If the Mets lost Cespedes they would have been better off declining Bruce’s option and using that money to add a different outfielder like Ian Desmond. It’s easy to wonder if the Mets, who were 25th in runs last year, lost Cespedes and replaced him with Jay Bruce for a full season, would they have scored the least amount of runs in the National League?

To start the offseason teams like the Blue Jays and Orioles reportedly were willing to take on Bruce’s contract but the Mets demanded something for the slugger. When the Orioles showed interest earlier in the offseason, the Mets reportedly asked for All-Star reliever Brad Brach. It seems like the Orioles moved on to trying to re-sign Mark Trumbo after that request, at least for the moment.

Now with so many notable home run hitters still stuck on the free agent board the Mets would be very fortunate to get someone to take Jay Bruce off their hands. Think of the scenario from an opposing team’s viewpoint: why would a team take on Bruce’s $13M and give the Mets something in a trade when they can just sign a similar player like free agent Chris Carter to a cheaper contract?

The Jay Bruce move continues to hurt the Mets and if they don’t clear payroll soon, they might lose out on re-signing Jerry Blevins or another lefty specialist that they need.  Also moving Bruce is vital for the Mets so they can get Michael Conforto every day at-bats. It’s going to be a distracting storyline in Spring Training if the Mets are unable to move Jay Bruce before camp opens in 6 weeks.

Do you think the Mets have been asking for too much in a Jay Bruce deal?

By Steven Inman

If you haven’t noticed, the Mets season is at a crossroads. The Mets offense is at a point where it’s hard to expect runs no matter who is on the mound for the opposing team. While losing Lucas Duda and David Wright has hurt, the rest of the team just hasn’t produced offensively. The Mets were counting on Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes to carry the load like they did in the second half of last season. Cespedes has cooled off dramatically since a hot April and Conforto is in the minor leagues after not being able to adjust to pitchers strictly throwing him breaking balls. The Mets have really had no answers on how to fix this lineup internally. Since then the Mets have brought back Jose Reyes.01-terry-collins-080915-getty-ftrjpg_dduuxh7xyqfg1ckk33738rts9

No matter what you think of Reyes’ off the field issues, it’s pretty clear that this isn’t the same Reyes that won a batting title in his last tour with the Amazins.  Reyes was never a gold glove caliber shortstop by any means, but his defense has dramatically regressed over the last few years with the Marlins, Blue Jays and Rockies. Now the Mets are relying on Reyes to be the dynamic spark plug he once was along with learning third base, a position he has never played in the big leagues. Reyes is a good enough athlete where he could adapt to third base or even the outfield but the Mets wouldn’t be asking this of Reyes if the guys in the lineup were producing. It seems pretty desperate to bring in Reyes and hope he can be the Reyes of old and not just an old Reyes. Expect him to be up at Citi Field next week.

Washington just swept the Mets and while there is still half a season still to be played, it’s hard to imagine the Mets offense being good enough to hang with Dusty Baker’s club down the stretch. The Nationals clearly look like the better team and the Mets starting pitching looks tired. It may be because of all the extra pitches the young starters endured in the postseason or perhaps some nagging injuries that we haven’t been made aware of but this rotation just isn’t the same as it was last year. That doesn’t mean the Mets should regret throwing their arms deep in the playoffs by any means but it’s clear that there’s some fatigue.

Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are both dealing with bone spurs in their elbows. While the Mets doctors have ensured the team that pitching through these injuries won’t make their elbows worse, you often see players develop new injuries trying to overcompensate from the pain they are dealing with.  Steven Matz has basically stopped throwing his slider in June, you have to wonder if that pitch was causing him pain. Matt Harvey hasn’t been the same elite pitcher this season and Jacob deGrom’s velocity has been down most of the season. Bartolo Colon at the ripe age of 43 is still pitching as strong as ever.

While there is still plenty of baseball to be played, the Mets are in a very dangerous part of their season as we head towards the All-Star Break…

 

By Steven Inman

New York Mets Spring Training

Daniel Murphy’s bat will be missed on the 2016 Mets

After years of speculation that Daniel Murphy was on his way out of Queens, it has finally happened. Daniel Murphy held out hope this winter that the Mets would change their minds and negotiate with him but it never happened.

With Neil Walker becoming the Mets second basemen, Murphy, the 2nd longest tenured Met, is no longer is a fit. After the Neil Walker trade, Murphy’s agreement to join the rival Nationals came together fairly quickly. The Mets were never interested in bringing Murphy back on anything longer than a one or possibly two-year contract. Even though Murphy wanted to stay, the club really never considered a contract extension for Murph while he wore the blue and orange.

Having draft pick compensation attached to the postseason hero hurt Murphy in free agency, but not enough to prevent him from netting a three-year contract worth a reported $37.5M with the Nats.

While Walker is a very solid player, it is easy to see Murphy returning to Citi Field next season and hurting the Mets in an important divisional matchup.

In a league where offense is down throughout the sport, Murphy’s strengths make him a good fit on most teams but he is a perfect fit for the Washington Nationals. The Nats are extremely right-handed as Bryce Harper and the switch-hitting Danny Espinosa are the only lefty bats in the Nats everyday lineup. (Espinosa is a career .217 hitter left-handed)

Murphy will likely play second base for Washington which will allow Anthony Rendon to continue to play at third base. If Rendon or Ryan Zimmerman (two players who missed a combined 149 games last season) go down Murphy could move all around the infield.

Murphy, 30, is a .294 hitter in 56 career games at Nationals Park. No everyday player struck out less than Murphy in 2015. He is a consistent hitter that will bring some stability to a Nationals lineup that was extremely streaky a season ago. Perhaps most importantly the Nationals are taking away that consistent bat from their biggest threat to take back the NL East.

Will the Mets regret letting Murphy walk?

By Steven Inman

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Courtesy Post-Gazette

As you may have heard, the Mets front office came home from Nashville with a brand new middle infield with the additions of Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera. While the trade for Walker and signing of Cabrera came together rather quickly, it doesn’t appear that bringing the pair to New York was the Mets Plan A.  For whatever reason the Mets, along with the rest of baseball seemed to covet Ben Zobrist during the Winter Meetings so much that New York offered him a 4-year deal worth a reported $60 Million. The 34-year old Zobrist may have taken that deal with the Amazins if it wasn’t for a trade that went down between the Cubs and the Yankees.

The Cubs liked Zobrist but didn’t have a spot for him to play in their infield or outfield. Theo Epstein and company at Wrigley Field were able to move Starlin Castro and the $38 Million guaranteed left on his contract to the Yankees. Without that move Zobrist likely wouldn’t have been able to find 500 at-bats with the Cubs and would have looked to his other suitors the Mets and the Nationals. The Mets rolled out the red carpet for Zobrist, even showing him places in Connecticut and Westchester where he could raise his family.

Ben Zobrist is a nice player. He is versatile and known as a good clubhouse guy. Perhaps most importantly in this area of the country Zobrist is remembered for killing the Mets in the World Series, With that said, giving Ben Zobrist a contract in the vicinity of what Zobrist got with the Cubs (4 years, $56M) would have been a disaster for the New York Mets.

For starters Ben Zobrist will be 35-years old next season and missed a chunk of last season after a serious knee injury. Defensively he’s not what he used to be so that versatility, while still valuable isn’t as important as it used to be. The Mets also have a pair of older players in David Wright and Curtis Granderson on the payroll at pretty hefty salaries for the next few seasons. Adding Zobrist to that duo would mean having half your payroll tied up in three players in their mid-30’s for the next few seasons. Lastly if the Mets signed Zobrist he likely would have played second base which would have meant possibly another season of Wilmer Flores at shortstop. The Mets must get better defensively if they want another crack at the World Series.

It didn’t make much sense that the Mets would want Ben Zobrist on a 4-year deal. He’s not the difference making bat that transformed their lineup last July. After seeing what the Mets Plan B was, it is even more of a head scratching thought how much they wanted Zobrist. The Mets have the Cubs for stealing Zobrist away and the Yankees to thank for giving the Cubs to motivation to sign the veteran. The Mets “Plan B” will have their infield much improved defensively at a decent price.

 

By Steven InmanEzopb0DF_400x400

It has happened. After two collapses and six seasons of just pitiful baseball, the Mets are heading back to the postseason. The club has been dominant since Sandy Alderson upgraded the club’s offense back in late July. The Nationals had a golden opportunity to put the Mets away in the first half of the season but never played consistent enough to get on any kind of win streak. Once the Mets added thump to the lineup, they zoomed past the underachieving Nationals. All the Nationals frustration boiled over on Sunday when Jonathon Papelbon attacked Bryce Harper in the Nats dugout during another difficult loss.

The return of David Wright to the New York lineup was pivotal in addition to the acquisitions the Mets made at the trade deadline but it was the Mets starting pitching that was able to give the Mets a huge advantage on most nights. Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey were even better than expected in their first full seasons with the Mets. Veterans Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon were very up and down this season but were able to provide some solid moments for a Met club in the midst of a special season. However one of the biggest reasons the Mets have had a resurgence is the promotions of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

Both former top prospects were even more polished than advertised and were key to the Mets going on their second half run. No other club had two top flight pitching prospects that were able to step into a major league rotation and contribute like this right away. Having two rookies contribute in the starting rotation the way Matz and Syndergaard have is extremely rare and should not be taken for granted.

All of these pieces had to fit together for the Mets to win their 5th division title in franchise history. They will face the Dodgers in the NLDS starting Friday October 9th.

BrokeMets will have a full scouting report on what the Mets can expect from the eventual NL West champs next week.