State of The Mets

Let’s talk about what we have. What can we as Met fans hang our hats on going into the 2019 season?

Jacob deGrom. For his sublime work in 2018 deGrom will be named the National League’s Cy Young Award winner. Well, he SHOULD be named the winner. If he’s not? Then I officially don’t care about the award any longer, and neither should you.

In his first full year in 2015, he was brilliant. He emerged as a dark horse Cy Young candidate in a season long pennant race. DeGrom took to the bright lights of postseason baseball with aplomb. He out dueled Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke on the road. He shutdown the Cubs in Wrigley Field before he ran out of gas in Kansas City.

He is a big game pitcher and may be the very best in baseball right now.

I love how Noah Syndergaard ended the 2018 season. The last game he pitched was a complete game shutout, which I believe is a preview of what is to come in 2019.

Syndergaard showed what is he capable of doing on the big stage in 2015 as well, giving the Mets’ their lone World Series win.

In his first full season in 2016, Syndergaard was outstanding. Thrust into the role of the team’s ace after Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom suffered season ending injuries, Noah pitched the team into the postseason again. He solidified his reputation as a big game performer by going toe to toe with Madison Bumgarner for seven innings in the Wildcard game.

After missing the majority of the 2017 season, Syndergaard had an uneven 2018. I’d bet the house that he’s firing on all cylinders in 2019.

Zack Wheeler finally lived up to the hype that surrounded him coming up through the San Francisco Giants system in his 2018 campaign.

Don’t forget his strong 2014 season though. He’s performed at the major league level before. Sure, he missed the next two seasons with injury. But after an uneven 2017 where he battled with further injuries, he showed what he was really lcapable of in 2018. When he’s healthy that is.

Steven Matz had an up and down 2018. But it’s important to remember that he had the same bone spur surgery as Jacob deGrom before the season. DeGrom was uncharacteristically up and down after the surgery in 2017, before returning to form.

It’s hard to talk about Matz without mentioning his extensive injury history, but if he is able to stay on the field then there is no reason he can’t take a step forward. A lot of teams would kill for Steven Matz as their fourth starter.

If we can acquire a front end starter this off-season, this staff can be special.

And why can’t we?

Always remember this. The Mets play in the biggest media market in the world. The Wilpons own a TV station in said media market. The team is worth more than 2 billion dollars.

You sign Patrick Corbin. Not Jeremy Hellickson. Not Yovani Gallardo. And before you try and sell Jason Vargas to the fans with a straight face, here’s what you do. You send Jason Vargas to Brooklyn.

Seriously. In his couple rehab starts for the Cyclones he was dominant. Let him pitch there. If you can’t leave José Reyes alone, sign him to play shortstop for Brooklyn every time Vargas pitches. In the middle of Coney Island, Cyclone games can become an attraction. Build on Seinfeld night which is always a huge success and get fans in the seats. Just keep Jason Vargas away from Queens.

It’s hard to discuss the pitching staff without prefacing it with injury talk, but this group can be dominant. We already know what they can do in big games, so let’s play in some big games. Sign Corbin and let’s improve on our biggest strength.

Any other available free agent would be throwing something at the wall and hoping it sticks. (In comparison to Corbin of course. There are capable pitchers available.) Or trying to catch lightning in a bottle with a pitcher who’s on his farewell tour.

The pitching staff is something tangible on this team where we can hang our hats

Where we can hang nothing but crooked numbers on the scoreboard is our bullpen. Forgive me for being overly critical here, but the Mets bullpen is atrocious. And, really? When is the last time the Mets had a good bullpen?

Seth Lugo. That’s it. And despite his 2018 season, which was fantastic, there is cause for concern. He still has a torn UCL, and he opted not to have Tommy John surgery. You have to hope he can continue to be effective in a new role.

Robert Gsellman also is adjusting to life in the bullpen. He had stretches where was good to great, but overall he was very inconsistent.

Did you hear that the Mets are interested in Asdrubal Cabrera? A year after signing Jay Bruce who was dealt at the previous years trade deadline, it seems like the Mets like to welcome back familiar faces. So, I’d imagine they are going to have a reunion with Jeurys Familia and or Jerry Blevins.

If that’s the case, then this is the 2016 and 2017 bullpen remix. If so, then we’ll see the Neil Ramirez’ and Tommy Milones of the world before long.

If none of the righty relievers who we already have that throw 100 miles an hour straight as an arrow pan out, then we’ll be acquiring another Chris Beck during the year.

No. We need a complete overhaul of the bullpen. This cannot be handled internally with a cheap pickup here or there.

I never want to see Paul Sewald pitch again. I don’t want to hear about Jenrry Mejia who hasn’t pitched in three years.

Wait. Maybe I was being too harsh when I said we have Seth Lugo and that’s it.

Anthony Swarzak was injured for most of 2018. You hope that if healthy, he can regain his 2017 form. Daniel Zamora was great when he was called up late in 2018, and was nearly untouchable in his last seven appearances. Maybe PJ Conlon can be effective as a long man. Both Drew Smith and Tyler Bashlor showed flashes.

Nah. We need a complete overhaul of this bullpen. Sorry. If the Athletics needed a righty reliever so badly, why didn’t they call up Bobby Wahl themselves? Also add Jacob Rhame to the list along with Paul Sewald.

Zach Britton. David Robertson. Adam Ottavino. Craig Kimbrel. Andrew Miller. Cody Allen. Kelvin Herrera.

You have to sign two if not three relievers from that list if you’re not getting creative with trades. We’d be here all night if we weighed the pros and cons of all those pitchers. I don’t think you can call any of the names listed above a complete slam dunk. But I’m not digging any deeper than that.

And you know at least one familiar face will reappear. Let it be Familia or Blevins. Do not even look at AJ Ramos. Please.

The bullpen is an area of this team that needs serious attention. But what else is new?

Let’s look at an offense that was so bad in 2018, it may cost the best pitcher in baseball the Cy Young Award.

Let’s also keep in mind that there is definite cause for optimism there.

I’d like to compare José Reyes and Amed Rosario through their first 3 seasons.

Age 21
JR: .255 AVG/.644 OPS, 2 HR, 14 RBI
AR: .248 AVG/.665 OPS, 4 HR, 10 RBI

Age 22
JR: .273 AVG/.687 OPS, 7 HR, 58 RBI
AR: .256 AVG/.676 OPS, 9 HR, 51 RBI

Age 23
JR: .300 AVG/.841 OPS, 19 HR, 81 RBI
AR: ??

José Reyes broke out in his third season at the age of 23. Why can’t Amed Rosario, who was the number one prospect in baseball, break out in his third season at the age of 23? He has the tools.

The second half of the season was very encouraging. I’m confident he takes a huge step forward in 2019.

What can you say about Brandon Nimmo? How much time do you have? Let’s just say this. He’ll always give you a good at bat and I believe that the power is still developing. Meet your leadoff hitter until Amed can take the reins.

How about Jeff McNeil? Through boldface lies from the front office, McNeil forced his way into the Mets lineup and earned the second base job for 2019. Simple as that. There should really be no debate. Daniel Murphy with a better glove? Maybe? Hopefully? I don’t know but McNeil can hit.

You have to love the way Michael Conforto ended the season. He struggled mightily in the first half but I’m attributing that to the fact he couldn’t swing a bat all winter. He didn’t have a full spring training and was rushed back.

I am of the belief that Conforto is in MVP talks in 2019. I said it.

So that’s Rosario Nimmo and Conforto. As confident as I am in these three men going forward, they still need to show and prove. That also still leaves 5 spots to fill out the rest of the lineup.

Catcher

If you want Kevin Plawecki to be the backup catcher, sign me up. If you want him to be the starting catcher, I can’t get on board with that.

It’s a historically thin position right now, so please don’t tell me that Plawecki has a better OPS then half the catchers in the league. Because that means absolutely nothing. You also end the Travis d’Arnaud experiment and sign Yasmani Grandal. He is the best pitch framer in the league if you want to jump out the window with that, by the way. The difference between him and the rest of that list, (aside from Yan Gomes) is that Grandal can actually hit.

If you can land Realmuto for Alonso or Gimenez (but definitely not both) then by all means do that. But that’s a long shot. Sign Grandal.

First Base

No offense if this applies to anybody reading. I don’t have the energy to listen to fans talk about Mets switching positions. The second you do that, I’m tuning you out. Whatever you are proposing is not going to work. I promise you.

Jay Bruce is not my first baseman. Dominic Smith is not my outfielder.

I had a lot of hope for Dominic Smith. But the second they had him play in the outfield, he ceased to exist in my mind as a Met going forward. If you want to switch gears now and let him try and win the first base job, then I wish him the best. I’ll be rooting for him too, because I am a Dominic Smith fan. The Mets, as an organization, have ruined Dominic Smith. Let’s hope a team will trade for him, even though his current team threw him under the bus and reduced his value to zero.

Also, it seems like the organization has chosen Peter Alonso as the next first baseman. You might be wondering why he wasn’t playing first base down the stretch during another lost season for the Mets. Join the club. The line is around the block.

If I know the Mets like I think I do, they are going to manipulate Alonso’s service time. That means Jay Bruce will be the first baseman for at least a month. Also, it’s very likely that when Peter Alonso is promoted, there will be a platoon at first base, which is an absolutely awful idea.

Alonso looks like the real deal. As we previously discussed, Dominic Smith doesn’t exist anymore. We need to sink or swim with Alonso. Or trade him for Realmuto or Goldschmidt. Simple as that. Both of those scenarios are unlikely, so play Peter Alonso at first everyday.

Can we hang our hat on Peter Alonso? Of course not. He hasn’t seen one major league pitch. I am confident we will be able to soon though.

What scares me is that Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier were signed to multi year deals. Do you think that Jay Bruce AND Todd Frazier are both going to be bench players given their salaries? Really?

Well, maybe Jay Bruce returns to the outfield. That forces Conforto or Nimmo into center which isn’t ideal. At this point we can wonder why Jay Bruce was signed last year when we needed a center fielder. We won’t though, because that will just make us angry.

We can hope that Jay Bruce is healthy for the 2019 season. I haven’t heard of plantar fasciitis disappearing though, so I’m not too confident. The injury hindered him in the field and at the plate, leading to a disastrous 2018.

Third Base

Now back to Asdrubal Cabrera. The talks about a possible reunion scare me. Why are we talking about Cabrera as possible infield depth before Thanksgiving? That leads me to believe that Todd Frazier will remain the third baseman.

Listen. The Mets knew which third basemen were going to be available this year. They didn’t sign Frazier to a two year deal by accident.

They need to switch gears though. (If they want to win that is.) And by switching gears, I mean they need to remove Frazier as the starting third baseman, and sign Machado or Donaldson.

Again, you can find a lot of pros and cons with Machado and Donaldson. The truth of the matter however, is that we need a right hand power bat to break up those lefties.

Already, the Mets have said that Machado is not the type of player they want to give a long contract to. Big surprise. Get Josh Donaldson.

Center Field

Not to beat a dead horse, but we needed a center fielder last year and we signed Jay Bruce. We still need a center fielder.

Honestly, I would just try and make do with what we have. I don’t love the center fielders who are available. Well, that’s not entirely true. I do love AJ Pollock, but you can’t convince me that he wouldn’t get hurt signing the contract.

I know we all love reunions, but do not even look at Austin Jackson. Do not look at speedy aging center fielders like Ben Revere or Rajai Davis. Praying Juan Lagares can stay healthy is a silly strategy. But I think that’s exactly where we are at.

A outfield rotation of Conforto, Nimmo, Bruce and Lagares until Céspedes returns is our best bet. And by rotation I mean play Jay Bruce once a month.

It’s not ideal, but this is one area I feel like we’d be better served to leave as is. Juan Lagares’ recent injuries have been very freaky, and not nagging or chronic issues. Let’s pray he can stay healthy and his defense alone will make the decision worth it. Also, I just don’t think it makes sense to invest in any of the center fielders available.

Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, the Yankees? You know damn well they would go ALL – IN around that pitching staff. Why should the Mets be any different? Are we not a big market team?

The Mets could have ran away with the NL East last year. We have to hope that the Wilpons are dedicated to fielding a winning team in 2019.

We have to hope that the Wilpons have some sense of pride, and they have been embarrassed by the last two years. We have to hope they dedicate themselves to fielding a winning team, and not just trying to convince the fans they did.

Hopefully, we will find ourselves praising ownership for an innovative GM hire. I fear that we have hired a young, good looking and articulate man to spin more of the Wilpons bullshit. Time will tell. Van Wagenen has already lied to the fans on behalf of ownership. Not a good start.

If nothing else, Sandy Anderson has left behind a young and inexpensive core to work with. Let’s build around it instead of signing the 2019 versions of Alejandro de Aza and Adrian Gonzalez.

Nimmo
McNeil
Donaldson
Conforto
Grandal
Alonso/Bruce
Rosario
Lagares

Let’s be optimistic for a second. If Yoenis Céspedes is able to return in 2019, that’s a legitimate lineup to go along with a pitching staff that could be special.

We will to be able to see right away if they are dedicated to winning this time around.

So, that’s it. We do have some things to be excited about. We just can’t throw garbage around it again. I fully believe that we can compete, as long as we make the necessary additions.

P.S

Bye Wilmer Flores! It’s been real.

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