David Peterson should not be overlooked

Oddly enough, the most talked about lefty arm on the New York Mets this offseason has been…Steven Matz? This is the case because Matz reupped with the team after settling for a $5.2 million contract at the arbitration table. Other than that Matz, whose career has been marred by injuries and inconsistencies, has seen his popularity amongst fans tumble. Other than some of the stellar work he has done in the community, which shouldn’t go unrecognized, Matz hasn’t brought much to the mound for the team. In other words, unless James McCann brings some serious magic to his game, Matz shouldn’t be the lefty we’re talking about.

That title belongs to David Peterson. The lefty from California had a solid rookie campaign, pushing a 3.44 ERA and 1.208 WHIP, with 40 strikeouts in 49.2 innings pitched. Peterson recorded a WAR of 1.5, the second-best of the entire Mets pitching staff. At only 25 years old, Peterson should be in position to be a perfect candidate to round out the Mets pitching rotation for the upcoming season.

The main question surrounding Peterson is whether he should be the fourth or fifth starter in the rotation, given that Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, and Marcus Stroman will all take their turn ahead of him. The answer is completely dependent on who the team signs. There’s been reports that Steve Cohen isn’t ready just yet to close his wallet to splash signings, which is a welcomed feeling for Mets fans. This could mean that the Mets still make a splash and sign Trevor Bauer. That expensive scenario would guarantee that Peterson receives the five spot in the rotation until the return of Noah Syndergaard, at which point he could line up to be a long man out of the bullpen that provides rotational depth.

Looking past the Bauer wildcard, there are tons of veteran options out on the market that make the question of where Peterson fits into the rotation more difficult, or whether or not he’ll get bounced from the rotation when Syndergaard returns. Although it has been reported that the thought around the MLB is that Masahiro Tanaka will return to Japan to pitch, Tanaka is also a pitcher that could bump Peterson when Syndergaard returns to the rotation.

Other options though, like Jake Odorizzi  and James Paxton would pose a more difficult decision. It was tough sledding for those two veterans last season, as they combined for a WAR of -.4, and battled through slews of injuries that prohibited them from ever getting comfortable on the mound during the season.

For a more accurate picture of what the pitchers can bring to the table, a look at their collective resumes does the trick. Odorizzi pitched himself into an All-Star appearance in 2019, throwing a 3.51 ERA on his way to recording 15 wins. Paxton held a 3.82 ERA over 150.2 innings in 2019 for the Yankees, and pitched two complete games in 2018. As for Kluber, his two Cy Young awards do all the talking. But would any of them pitch well enough in 2021 to supplant Peterson in the rotation once Syndergaard returns?

The one advantage that all of them hold over Peterson is experience. The two veterans combined have pitched 1,795.2 career innings. With all of the duels and big situations they’ve been in, including a deep postseason run from Paxton, it could be a great idea to have a veteran anchoring an already strong front of the rotation. Looking at the innings pitched from the opposite side of the spectrum, that is a lot of miles on the tank for two pitchers who are returning from injuries. Signing any of those veterans also comes with the risk of signing a player who just doesn’t know their tank is out of gas yet. Peterson is healthier than all of them, and is less likely of a candidate to break down at the end of the season when innings start to feel heavier.

Acquiring Carrasco was a great move for the Mets, as it began to plug the holes of last year’s swiss cheese rotation. While acquiring a veteran starter should be on the to-do list, that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the Mets have a quality starter in Peterson who should not be ignored. In the 2020 season he was the second-best pitcher on the Mets staff, and while he will understandably take a backseat to pitchers like Stroman and Carrasco, it should come as no surprise if his game improves even more during the 2021 season.

Weighing the meaning of a Nolan Arenado trade for the Mets

It seems like just yesterday that there were rumors swirling that the New York Mets wanted to acquire All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The Mets were on the cusp of their magical 2015 season, and the addition of a player like Tulowitzki would have added verified star power to the lineup. Instead, the Colorado Rockies decided to trade Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays, which he helped reach the ALCS before the team fell to the eventual World Series Champion Kansas City Royals. The Mets ended up trading for Yoenis Cespedes, and well, we don’t need to re-explore what that would mean for the team.

Now, half a decade later, the Mets and the Rockies have been once again dragged together by trade talks. This time around the block, the conversations have revolved around All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado. According to Jon Morosi on MLB Network, the Rockies would like to have the Mets as a potential trade partner for the seven-time Gold Glover. MLB Pipeline sums it up nicely in this tweet:

While at this point it is just a rumor, it is always good practice to explore what a trade of that magnitude would mean for the franchise. At face value the Mets would absolutely have to get the Rockies to absorb Robinson Cano’s contract, which will be massive to undertake next season once the 39-year-old will be able to retake the field following his season-long suspension for PEDs. Should the Rockies be willing to take on that contract, they’ll want a haul of prospects, which the Mets aren’t exactly stocked with. The Mets would have to part with an MLB-ready player such as Brandon Nimmo (who holds a ridiculous .706 slugging percentage lifetime at the hitter-friendly Coors Field) as well as a prospect such as Brett Baty.

Even with bringing all of those chips to the table, the Mets would probably still have to sweeten the pot more. But say the Rockies did end up sending Arenado to the Mets. Instantly, the team would receive one of, if not the best, defensive players in the MLB.

I have complete confidence that Arenado’s defense will transfer over to Citi Field, as he has won a Gold Glove in every season he has played so far. The largest concern for many is whether or not his bat will transfer as well. This is a valid concern, as Coors Field can sometimes be a cesspool for inflated batting statistics. There are some important numbers to look at when thinking about Arenado’s offense.

The first statistic that should jump out is the low strikeout numbers that Arenado puts up. Arenado struck out only 20 times last year, four less than the contact guru of the Mets, Jeff McNeil. For the amount of power that Arenado produces, that low number of strikeouts is impressive. The item that concerns people however is Arenado’s numbers at Coors Field against numbers at other parks. Let’s focus on how he has done at Citi Field when he has played there.

At Citi Field, Arenado’s numbers have suffered. He has played 23 games there, and has a slash line of .229/.275/.410. His OPS is a measly .684, which is far below his overall career mark of .890, which is good enough for 73rd all-time. So, why so different? Well, it has to do with the gaps. Below is Arenado’s spray chart at Citi Field since the 2015 season. All three of the home runs were no-doubt shots, with the home run to deep center even bouncing off of the apple. What stands out besides those long home runs is the two doubles Arenado has recorded, both down the left field line. Outside of his home runs, those doubles were the only two extra base hits he has recorded since 2015. It is evident that Arenado does not utilize the gaps at Citi Field.

Now, we’ll look at the last full season he spent at Coors Field, 2019. He uses the left-center gap at a consistent clip, and was rewarded with a high amount of doubles in that area. Of course, Arenado had more at bats at Coors Field. But what I get from this chart is that the climate truly did impact the way the ball carried into the gap for Arenado. He won’t have that benefit if he comes to Citi Field, and he will have to really put a focus into adjusting to life without that Colorado air.

Although the rumors for this trade are in their infancy stage, there isn’t much debate that Arenado would be an impact player for the Mets. As I pointed out above, there would most likely be an adjustment period for the slugger, given the way that he has performed at Citi Field in the past. Regardless, should the Mets find the opportunity to get a hold on him, they should absolutely take a shot. Players like Arenado, who are consistently healthy, impactful, and strike out at a low rate, don’t come around very often. As confident as I am that his defense will carry over, I am just as confident he will be able to produce in the lineup.

Arenado has won a Gold Glove in every season he has played in.
Arenado has the 73rd highest OPS in MLB history.
Arenado has five extra base hits since 2015 at Citi Field.

An analysis of the spray charts of potential Mets

As the Flushing Faithful start prepare for the first season of the Steve Cohen regime, the excitement is extremely plausible. A large number of articles have been released regarding the potential acquisitions that the New York Mets could make this offeseason. While Cohen is expected to make waves this offseason with acquisitions, it is first important to understand that there are necessity players as well as luxury players. The necessity positions for the Mets are certainly starting pitching, catching ,and center fielder; while a luxury addition would be adding Francisco Lindor. In addition to Lindor, the Mets have been linked to the likes of J.T. Realmuto, George Springer, and Trevor Bauer.

While it is important to think about how those players will potentially fit onto the roster, it is also important to think about how they will fit into the Citi Field. Being that the Mets play 81 games at Citi Field, it is important that a player is not only comfortable playing there, but that their style of play will translate to the dimensions of the field. Luckily, Baseball Savant gives us the ability to look at anyone’s spray chart, and plop it down on any MLB field. For the purpose of our study, we’ll use Citi Field.

Trevor Bauer

Perhaps the flashiest free agent on the market, Bauer is looking to cash in on his NL Cy Young Victory season. With a 1.70 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 11 starts for the Cincinnati Reds last season, he will be commanding top dollar this offseason. While Bauer is known for the entertainment value he brings, he would undoubtedly be a great help to a Mets rotation that crumbled behind Jacob deGrom last season. A 2021 rotation of deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Bauer, Marcus Stroman, and David Peterson could reinvigorate the mound presence of this team. How would Bauer’s pitching style translate to Queens?

Looking at the home runs that he gave up last season, they all would have been home runs at Citi Field as well. An important point to pull from his chart is that he did not give up any doubles down the right field line. This is important because of how pesky balls that are driven down that line can be. The foul line is so close to wall that the ball often juts off of it. These juts seem minute, until it assists a runner getting an extra base on a ball down the line. With a small amount of batted balls going in that direction off of Bauer, he could continue his dominance at Citi Field. The former Golden Spikes winner has never pitched at Citi Field, which adds to the intrigue of his potential success in a Mets uniform.

George Springer

With a need for a true centerfielder at the forefront, it is easy to say that Springer should be the top priority for the Mets this season. He proved last season that he is elite at the plate, even without the banging of trash cans. Springer finished 12th in AL MVP voting, finishing with 14 home runs and a .540 slugging percentage. In looking at his spray chart, it is evident that he would have actually had more home runs if he played at Citi Field.

Springer hit six balls last season that would have been home runs if they were hit at Citi Field. Outside of that fact, the righty showed that he is a major pull hitter. But, he also knows how to find that gap out in left-center field. There have been many balls smacked into that alley that have resulted in extra base hits, and with Springer’s speed, he should be a constant threat for a triple if he signs with the Mets this offseason.

J.T Realmuto

Outside of his excellent ability to frame pitches behind the plate, Realmuto is known for being a threat in the batter’s box. This makes him the top catcher in this year’s free agent class. The Mets missing catching stung even more during the postseason, as Travis d’Arnaud bursted onto the scene for the rival Atlanta Braves. With that sour taste in their mouth, it makes perfect sense that the Mets have been linked to the two-time All Star.

A common concern with sluggers coming out of Philly is that their home run numbers are inflated because their ballpark is a bam box. Oddly enough, Realmuto would actually have had three more home runs last season if those balls were hit at Citi Field. All of the home runs Realmuto hit last season would have been home runs at Citi Field, which should alleviate concerns that his numbers were inflated because he played at Citizens Bank Park. Having a veteran like Realmuto who shows legitimate power, who also expertly fields his position would have significant upside, even if the price tag is a little high.

Francisco Lindor

While not a free agent, the stove has been hot this season regarding the Mets acquiring Lindor. The Mets have Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez to play shortstop, but it goes without saying Lindor would be an instant upgrade at the position. His spray chart is a thing of beauty, displaying his ability to hit in all areas of the field.

What is also encouraging is that he is another one of those players that would have more home runs if his balls were hit at Citi Field last season. In addition to the seven would-be home runs, Lindor displayed an excellent tendency to be able to work both foul lines and gaps. With the spacious outfield grass at Citi Field, there is not much doubt that his game would translate well to New York.

Bauer is the 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner
Springer finished with 14 home runs in 2020
All of the home runs Realmuto hit last season would have been home runs at Citi Field

Bringing Stroman back can help push Mets to contention

If the 2020 version of the New York Mets taught us anything, it is that you simply can’t overstate the importance of quality starting pitching. Starters for the Mets last season compiled an ERA of 6.07. This is not the standard that we are used to seeing from the Mets rotation, as for the past few years we have been dazzled by excellent performances. Save for Jacob deGrom and David Peterson, there was nothing to write home about in terms of starting pitcher effectiveness. Sure, the rotation lacked the presence of Noah Syndergaard, but there was still no excuse for how low quality of a rotation was presented. For that reason, it is extremely important that the Mets bring back Marcus Stroman.

The “Stro Show” came into town on July 28th of 2019, and put up solid numbers for the Mets, pitching to a 4-2 record with an ERA of 3.77. Prior to the 2020 season, Stroman tore his calf, which sidelined him. He then announced on August 10th that he would forego the rest of the 2020 season, causing many to speculate on whether or not his short tenure with the organization had come to a close. If you look back at the team starting pitching stats for the Mets, you’d hope it wasn’t the end of the “Stro Show” in Queens.

The Mets could use all the depth that they could get when it comes to starting pitching. While Stroman does not provide eye-dazzling numbers, he is at least a quality pitcher. He is a quality pitcher that on the occasion, can put together a number of excellent starts as well. He will never be the stud of a starting rotation, especially a Mets rotation that features deGrom, but he is certainly an excellent complement to that. With a healthy Syndergaard added to the mix, the Mets would have a very potent top three punch in their rotation, with the flexibility to add a pitcher via free agency. Throw in Peterson at the back end, and you are looking at a rotation that might be able to pitch competitively.

When people debate against the idea of signing Stroman, they usually lean on the fact that he relies heavily on contact to make outs, and that the Mets don’t have enough infield talent to be able to support a pitcher like that. While Stroman does rely heavily on groundballs for outs, (he had a groundball rate of 54.6% in 2019, and the MLB average was 42.9%) that argument is simply not valid anymore. To start, he’ll have elite talent up the middle in Andres Gimenez. Gimenez was always known to have an elite glove, but his bat gave more reason for Luiz Rojas to start him moving forward. With more starts, Gimenez showed off those outstanding defensive skills, registering an OAA of 6, good enough for 16th in the Major Leagues.

Alongside Gimenez at second is Robinson Cano, who proved to have a renaissance season. His bat and mitt looked young again, which means the middle will be covered for the Mets. Once they figure out what to do at third base and at center field in terms of defense, the team should be ready to field at least a competent defense.

Should Steve Cohen assume ownership of the Mets, the prospect of resigning Stroman should be too lucrative to pass up. His asking price should be lower than it normally would be, considering he missed the entire truncated 2020 season. In addition to that, the glaring hole from the 2020 season was that the team lacked starting rotation depth. You don’t need the new analytics team that Cohen is bringing in to know that things need to be switched up there. Stroman seems like a natural fit to help plug that hole. If this rotation can be quickly rebuilt, the Mets can realistically return to prominence in the NL East. After all, the Mets had the highest batting average in the major leagues in 2020 with a mark of .272. In addition to the increased offensive production from the lineup, the Mets also saw a resurgent year from Edwin Diaz, who pitched to the tune of a 1.75 ERA, and had more than half the number of strikeouts than he did last season, and he did it in 40 less games. Bringing back the electricity that Stroman brings to the team, as well as the consistency that he provides on the mound, would push the Mets a bit closer to contention in 2021.

The ERA of Mets starting pitchers last season was 6.07
Stroman had a roundball rate of 54.6% in 2019
The Mets team batting average in 2020 was .272

Nimmo most valuable to Mets as a trade chip

With a smile that shines brighter than any floodlight he plays under, Brandon Nimmo has become a fan favorite through his hustle and pure delight at playing the game of baseball. Fans of the New York Mets have become accustomed to his penchant for getting on base, and for his signature sprint to first base after he draws a walk. While Nimmo is undoubtedly one of the more charming players in baseball, it is possible that his mishaps in center field have begun to outweigh his productivity at the plate. With recent defensive stats being released on Monday to the public, the metrics echo that sentiment.

According to the MLB, OAA (Outs Above Average) is a range-based metric of skill that shows how many runs a player has saved. The positive Mets fan will look at the report and report what we have been watching all season. It comes as no surprise to see that Andres Gimenez is ranked amongst the best defensive infielders in the game, with an OAA of 4. This is a mark shared with the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Francisco Lindor. A more pessimistic fan will look at Nimmo’s rating of -4 and see that he is tied for the worst OAA amongst outfielders.

While this seems extremely alarming, Michael Conforto has registered a rating of -3. The difference between the two players however is that Conforto has put up a campaign that has earned him a spot in the NL MVP conversation while Nimmo has been pedestrian at best with the bat in his hand. While it is not fair that Nimmo is being forced to play in an outfield position that is unnatural to him, his offense this season has not warranted sacrificing centerfield defense to keep his bat in the lineup.

The calling card of Nimmo’s career is that he has always been able to reach base, and his OBP is ranked 10th in the NL at a mark of .388. Ironically, this mark puts him third on the team, behind Conforto and the resurgent Jeff McNeil. Nimmo ranks high in the NL in other offensive categories that you’d expect, tied for 7th in walks, 16th in hits, and 17th in total bases. While it is fantastic that the Mets have an outfield that is producing at a high clip offensively, they have never needed a defensively competent outfield as much as they do now.

The pitching staff of the Mets needs all the help that they can get, and it will be the same case next season. The offense won’t always be able create an 18-run security blanket like they did on September 11th, so it is crucial that they put up a defense that is able to make plays behind a rotation that’s only consistency is Jacob deGrom every five starts. Nimmo can’t be considered a solid option at center field behind pitchers who give up hits like the Mets rotation does. The issue is that he can’t be moved to the corners because of the offensive prowess of Conforto and McNeil, along with the terrific defense that McNeil has brought to the outfield.

Because of this logjam in the corners, it might be worth considering Nimmo more valuable to the Mets as a trade piece than as a center fielder on the team. There would be teams interested in the way that Nimmo can reach base, and could play him naturally in his corner spot. This would open up a roster spot for the Mets to acquire someone who could adequately play centerfield, and hold the spot until Peter Crow-Armstrong graduates to the big leagues.

The fact of the matter is that strong defense always begins up the middle. As of right now, the Mets have Gimenez as their strongest middle infielder, which is a great start. They still need to work on the catcher position, which is something that can be addressed this offseason by Steve Cohen with the addition of J.T. Realmuto, should he be healthy by the time the offseason rolls around. That leaves centerfield in need of a defensive overhaul, where the Mets have not had a solid defender that could wield a good bat since Carlos Beltran.

It is inarguable that Nimmo can be an offensive catalyst in a lineup, but his poor defense in centerfield is not worth what he brings to the plate offensively. It would be ideal for the Mets to somehow find a way to get Nimmo in one of the corners on a regular basis, but that seems unlikely. For that reason, Nimmo is more valuable to the Mets as a trade piece rather than as a center fielder that consistently has his on base skills overshadowed by his inability to play that position defensively.

Nimmo has a -4 OAA
Nimmo is 10th in the NL with an OBP of .388
Nimmo is tied for 7th in the NL in walks

Like it or not, the Cano-Diaz trade will always be a failure

Regardless of the production received from Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz over the course of their careers as New York Mets, it will never be enough to quell the appetite of what Met fans desire from them. In order to get Cano and Diaz, the Mets had to trade away Jarred Kelenic, who has appeared in numerous videos as a corner outfield version of Mike Trout. The thought of what Kelenic might have been and will become has been enough to keep Mets fans tossing in their sleep, as well as given them an angle to treat the trade made with the Seattle Mariners almost always negatively.

Last season, the prospect of treating the trade as a failure was completely warranted. Both Cano and Diaz underperformed at a wild rate. Diaz, who had led the American League in saves the year prior to being traded to the Mets with 58, saved only 26 in his first season with the Mets. Cano played 80 games in 2018 due to a PED suspension, but still managed to hit .303 with a .471 slugging percentage. He slashed just a .256 batting average with a .428 slugging in 2019. It would be hard for even former Mets PR wizard Jay Horwitz to put a positive spin on the situation.

The media, and the Twitter warriors, had a field day. The trade is often discussed already as one of the worst in franchise history. What didn’t help was the videos surfacing of Kelenic absolutely raking in the minor leagues, as well as the numbers he recorded. Through his 117-game ascension from Mariners Low A to Double A last season, Kelenic torched opponents with a .291 average, 23 home runs, 20 stolen bases, and 68 RBIs. It made Baseball Prospectus drool enough to place him as the seventh best prospect in baseball entering 2020.

At the early onset of this sprint of a season, it appeared it would be more of the same suffering. Fans groaned about the prospect of Cano hitting any higher than fifth in the lineup, and Diaz blew his second save opportunity via a two-strike count home run against the Atlanta Braves, with his trademark smile to boot. Yet, after slow starts for both, things began to change. Diaz received some time on the pine and a relief from ninth inning duties. Cano, perhaps not feeling the pressure of that three hole, began to hit. All of a sudden, both Diaz and Cano appeared to be playing competent baseball in a Mets uniform.

Cano returned from his stint on the IL on Friday night at a convenient time. Although the word is that Jeff McNeil will not miss significant time after crashing into the left field wall at Citi Field on Thursday to catch a first inning line drive, there is no exact date for his return. The bat of Cano immediately brought juice back, as he delivered not only a home run, but a game-tying RBI single with two away in the top of the ninth. Following the game, his average sat at .412 for the season. Short season or not, it still has been an impressive run from Cano, and he has proven to be the most consistent Met hitter this season. It might be worth considering moving him up in the lineup to give him more RBI opportunities, since the rest of the team has struggled so much with driving guys in.

As for Diaz, the eighth inning role has brought some clarity to his presence on the mound. He has shrunk his ERA to 2.16, and has registered 17 strikeouts on the young season. His ERA+ is at 206, right near where his mark of 208 was when he shut the door 57 times in 2018. Looking past statistics with Diaz, his pitch movement has simply looked better this season than last, which is a great sign. Regardless of whether or not Diaz and Cano show to be competent ball players with the Mets, their careers with the Mets will unfortunately always be viewed in a negative light.

With the trade, there will always be an air hanging around about what could have been. This all or nothing attempt by Brodie Van Wagenen at the beginning of his tenure left no middle ground to grade the trade upon, due to the nature of all the players involved. With such high risk in trading Kelenic and Justin Dunn for an aging Cano and potential flash in the pan Diaz, there must be high reward. The trade would have to result in momentous victory, or it would be shrouded in monumental failure. Although Cano and Diaz are off to good starts this season for the Mets, until they help to garner World Series rings for the team, the acquisition of the pair, fair or unfair, will always be viewed as a failure.

Diaz saved 57 games in 2018
Kelenic slashed 23 minor league home runs in 2019
Cano is batting .412 in 2020

Jacob deGrom’s throne, for the better, will be challenged

Designed by Dalton Allison
Over the course of the 2019 season, Jacob deGrom affirmed himself atop the throne of New York pitching. Pound for pound, statistic for statistic, deGrom outperformed every other starter in not only New York, but the entire Senior Circuit. En-route to claiming his second consecutive National League Cy Young Award, deGrom brought himself to an elite level that proved he was worthy of the contract extension that the New York Mets awarded him prior to the beginning of the season. It looked like for the imminent future no one would be able to challenge deGrom for his New York throne, and Mets fans would be able to confidently sit knowing they have the best pitcher in the city.

That sense of comfort changed when the neighbors in the Bronx, the big brother Yankees signed Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract during the last offseason. This instantly started the debate of who was the best starting pitcher in New York, deGrom or Cole? This is a logical reaction to have to the rival team signing a player of such stature, who plays the same position that your best player plays. And for what it’s worth, the stats between the two pitchers are enough to make even the most casual of baseball fans drool.

Looking at the performance of both pitchers last season, there is a case to be made that they were the two best pitchers in the league last season. Cole lead the American League in ERA last season with the Astros by putting up a mark of 2.50. deGrom, though he did not lead the National League, put up a stronger ERA of 2.43. deGrom recorded 255 strikeouts, but Cole recorded 326. The pitchers are so evenly matched that when you look at their career numbers, that deGrom ranks seventh all-time in strikeouts per nine innings with a mark of 10.2526, right in front of Cole’s mark of 10.0619.

While the debate of who is the better pitcher is one that is certain to capture the minds and voices of sports journalists and talk show hosts throughout the season, there is a clear winner in the situation. The fans of New York baseball teams, and arguably Major League Baseball are clearly winners in Cole’s decision to don the pinstripes.

The most clear and obvious winner is the New York Yankees, because they finally got their front of the rotation ace that they have been lacking the last few seasons. In a larger scope, deGrom’s career should benefit from having a foil in his career to be compared to. Over the course of his career, the conversation around him has evolved from talking about his All-Star potential, to his CY Young potential, to now people having conversations about what he needs to do to prove himself as a Hall of Famer.

Working against that conversation is that deGrom has not had the fortune of playing for the best teams. Famously, the Mets have always lacked the ability to give run support to deGrom when he starts, and his career win totals have suffered from that. To boot, deGrom has only pitched in the postseason once. The big stage performances still need to happen for deGrom, and some potential matchups with Cole could provide that for him.

Scribes of deGrom’s baseball career and baseball writers will not be the only ones to take notice of comparisons and battles between deGrom and Cole. Casual fans will be drawn to the duels between the high-strikeout pitchers, and interest will be at a national level. This could not have come at a better time for Major League Baseball, who will need to do all they can to bring fans back into the game following an ugly labor dispute between the players in the owners that will likely spill into the following offseason. The allure of deGrom and Cole battling it out ala Mark McGwireSammy Sosa style could reinvigorate interest in the game, which has been on a downturn over the past couple of seasons.

Cole was a top prospect coming out of high school, even being drafted by the New York Yankees before deciding to turn down a $4 million signing bonus to pitch with Trevor Bauer on the UCLA Bruins. deGrom was converted from a shortstop during his junior year at Stetson, and had to fight through a Tommy John surgery to reach where he is during his career. Though they have different backgrounds and now pitch for two stark rivals, the two have an opportunity to not only better each other’s careers through their rivalry, but also rebuild interest in a sport that has been its own enemy lately.

deGrom recorded a 2.50 ERA in 2019
Cole recorded 326 strikeouts in 2019
deGrom and Cole rank seventh and eight all-time in strikeouts per nine innings

Perpetual Pedro persists

Gripe as you must about the current state of Major League Baseball, it never hurts to take a look back to 10 years ago and reflect on some of the things that we saw. Awful contracts, being burned by Bernie Madoff, and watching prime David Wright play for a mostly non-competitive team. Oddly enough, this is when my love of baseball truly began to take off. I started to enjoy the intricacies of the game, and appreciated more than just the star players on each team. This is where my love for intriguing players began, and Pedro Feliciano sits up there around the top of the list to me.

Unfortunately for younger Mets fans, Feliciano might become a name that gets glossed over in the history books of the team. Speaking on technicalities, Feliciano, Alay Soler, and Wright were the only members of that magical 2006 team to only ever suit up for the Mets. In that 2006 season, Feliciano displayed the talent that he had as a lefty specialist and chalked up his best season in terms of ERA, slinging a 2.09 in 60.1 innings pitched. Although he was elite that season, he is more likely to be remembered for his work in the following seasons, largely 2008-2010.

Over the span of the 2008-2010 seasons, the Mets finished a combined 238-248, a record that is greatly aided by the 89-73 finish in 2008. Over that same stretch, Feliciano led the National League in appearances. His appearances steadily increased through those seasons, as he went from 86 in 2008, to 88 in 2009, all the way up to 92 in 2010. Keep in mind, this was done when Feliciano was in his age 31, 32, and 33 seasons so his arm had already had some miles on it. Although Feliciano was mostly a LOOGY, in and out type of pitcher, he produced at an exceptional clip given how often he was trotted out onto the mound.

Over the course of his career, left-handed batters swung a measly .211 batting average against him. In over 799 at bats against lefties, Feliciano allowed only 11 home runs. He also proved to be a clutch pitcher, allowing only a .210 batting average when runners were in scoring position with two away. Due to the fact that Feliciano was such an effective luxury, and the Mets were not competitive at the time, he walked during the offseason before the 2011 season to the rival New York Yankees.

At what first seemed like a treacherous deal for Feliciano turned into a blunder for the Yankees. They signed him for two seasons at the price of eight million dollars, and he was primed to become a vital part of a team that was headed for the post season. Early on though, Feliciano began to feel soreness in his throwing arm. This soreness eventually led to the discovery that Feliciano had a torn anterior capsule and rotator cuff, which led to him not being able to pitch during his contract with the Yankees. The Yankees of course blamed Feliciano’s arm injuries to his workload with the Mets, although this was a very public fact.

Although it seemed at the time Feliciano’s departure seemed as if it might be devastating to the team, it was a blessing in disguise in the long term. When Feliciano departed, the Mets received a compensatory draft pick. This draft pick turned into Michael Fulmer, a promising pitcher that the Mets would eventually turn into Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets traded Fulmer and Luis Cessa to the Tigers for Cespedes in 2015. It could be said that, due to his pitching and his departure in free agency, Pedro Feliciano helped the Mets make their last two NLCS appearances.

Adorned by Mets fans as “Perpetual Pedro”, Feliciano was serviceable to the Mets for quite some time. Due to most of the teams he played for during his time, he will most likely be a footnote in the grand history of the New York Mets. After his career finished, the Mets did not see another comparable LOOGY until Jerry Blevins hit the mound for the Mets in 2015.

Thinking about baseball during the insane time that the world is going through is a welcomed distraction. The thoughts come to us while we are driving, while we are working, or simply just when we are taking a walk. It comes in the forms of grand memories like Daniel Murphy’s tear in the 2015 NLCS, or small ones such as the workhorse performances of Feliciano.

Feliciano was a lifetime Met.
He appeared in 92 games in 2010
He led the NL in appearances from 2008-2010

Jerry Krause and the New York Mets connection

Over the past four weeks, The Last Dance documentary chronicling the life and career of Michael Jordan has captured the minds and viewership of millions of Americans. Over the course of the documentary, fans both young and old either rekindled fond memories of Jordan, or developed a new found admiration for the former Chicago Bull legend. Over the course of this ten-part documentary series, which is set to conclude tomorrow night at 9 pm on ESPN, viewers have seemingly also grown to show a shared disdain for former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause. Krause is mostly known for his six championship rings that he claimed while with the Bulls, but he also left an imprint in New York as well.

Although Krause’s fame came in being a general manager as he molded the Bulls into a formidable dynasty in the 1990’s, his career began in scouting. Krause supposedly discovered Earl Monroe while working as a scout for the Baltimore Bullets, and Monroe would later go on to become a prolific scorer for the Bullets and Knicks. This ability to scout talent led Krause to baseball, and an eventual position for Jerry Reinsdorf’s Chicago White Sox. He impressed Reinsdorf so much during his time with the White Sox that when he purchased the Bulls in 1985, Reinsdorf hired Krause as general manager for the Bulls.

Krause was responsible for the formation of the 1990’s Bulls dynasty by drafting not only Jordan, but also Scottie Pippen, and also hiring Phil Jackson as the coach. Krause’s name has been slandered in The Last Dance however, as it has become evident that he was keen on breaking up Jordan, Pippen, and Jackson following the 1998 season. His strenuous relationship with those three has been a constant talking point throughout the documentary. Krause would remain as general manager until 2003, when he left basketball for good. He would return to baseball at first with the New York Yankees, and then in 2005, he landed with the New York Mets.

While Krause was considered successful during his tenure with the New York Mets because of their division crown in 2006, there is also reason for Mets fans to see him as a foil much like the likes of Jordan, Pippen, and Jackson did. Before Jordan hit the court in the 80’s and 90’s, there was a dominant athlete who played for the Mets. Tom Seaver hit the ground running after debuting for the Mets in 1967, before leading the team to the World Series championship in 1969. After being traded away from the team in 1977 in the Midnight Massacre, Seaver returned to the Mets after the 1982 season.

At this point, due to his age and inflated contract, many thought that Seaver would finish his career with the Mets. The Chicago White Sox had a different idea however, and picked Seaver from the Mets in 1984 free-agent compensation draft. At this point, Krause was one of the more trusted executives within the White Sox organization. According to Krause’s biography on the Arizona Diamondbacks’ front office page, Krause was instrumental in acquiring Seaver from the Mets. While Mets fans don’t have as much reason to gripe as Jordan, Pippen, and Jackson, there can be commonalities to be found between Bulls fans and Mets fans for the lack of regard that Krause had when looking at the meaning of a franchise player to their respective franchise.

By all accounts however, Krause’s stint serving the Mets was a lot less acrimonious. According to his boss, Omar Minaya, Krause was a pleasure to have on the staff. “I have very fond memories of our relationship. I felt fortunate to be able to hire him because he was a hard worker and had great knowledge on how to break down a player from a scouting perspective. He also had a real eye for seeking out those diamond-in-the-rough players. I always learned a lot from our conversations because we even talked about the similarities between great players in baseball and basketball, with the athleticism required for both sports. He loved talking scouting and had a great knack for it.” Minaya told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.

Krause’s tenure with the Mets ended in 2010, but he continued to work in baseball until his death in 2017. Krause was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame the same year. While many people are hesitant to praise Krause because of the infamous relationships that he held with his players and coaching staff, it can’t be argued that he was a legendary scout for two sports, which is extremely rare. It is always interesting to when see a legendary person like Krause had a role with the Mets at some point in their life.

Jerry Krause won six titles with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990’s as General Manager
He was responsible for the scouting and drafting of Earl Monroe, Michael Jordan, and Scottie Pippen
Krause also was responsible for the White Sox drafting Tom Seaver away from the Mets in 1984