We know all the negatives. There’s the shaky defense, the less than stellar bullpen, the surprising lack of power and the struggles with RISP. But there’s been some good things, real good things happening. We take Jacob deGrom’s magnificence for granted but he’s been good, even for him. James McCann has been a great defensive upgrade behind the plate, as has Francisco Lindor at shortstop. Jonathan Villar has had a really strong start, as has Luis Guillorme. Hopefully the first three things last. And if the latter two don’t, well, that won’t exactly make or break the season.
Somewhere back in the 1980s Bill James said that throughout MLB history, we’ve asked catchers to do more and more and pitchers to do less and less. With catchers, you have to think that improved protective equipment plays a big role in that, along with fewer doubleheaders. The 1969 Mets played 22 doubleheaders. Last year it seemed the Mets played a bunch of twinbills and they only played four.
So, why are we asking pitchers to do less? Continue reading “Poll: Are the Mets right with the conservative handling of Jacob deGrom?”
Last year, Steven Matz had a terrific Spring Training. In Grapefruit League play in 2020, Matz put up a 1.50 ERA, as he allowed just two hits and one run in six innings, while fanning five without allowing a walk. But he was unable to bring his strong results into the regular season. In fact, Matz had his worst year as a pro last season, as he put up a 9.68 ERA and a 1.696 WHIP. The biggest black mark against Matz was that he allowed 14 HR, which worked out to a ghastly 4.1 HR/9 mark.
The Mets tendered Matz a contract in his last season before becoming eligible for free agency. And now the Mets are in limbo. Do they trust a rotation slot to a guy who was horrible last year? Do you send a guy making $5 million plus to the pen to be a low-leverage long man? Why would you go to Spring Training and have him “earn” a rotation slot, given how last year went? Should we have faith that a normal Spring Training and regular season will result in Matz being a league-average starter, much like what he was in 2018-19? Will a new catcher, one he’s worked with before in the offseason, help Matz get back on track? Or is he destined to throw too many pitches middle-middle that end up being crushed?
There’s an awful lot of questions without much hope of getting a good answer before the games start for real.
Are you comfortable with Steven Matz opening the year in the rotation?
- No (70%, 32 Votes)
- Yes (30%, 14 Votes)
Total Voters: 46
We’ve seen a little bit of clarity with the moves that the Mets have made so far. The rotation got a needed boost when Marcus Stroman accepted the Qualifying Offer and the team addressed the catching situation with the signing of James McCann. But there are still several positions or areas to address. You could make a case for needing two starting pitchers, a third baseman and a center fielder. And if Dellin Betances, Brad Brach, Jeurys Familia and Drew Smith don’t fill you with optimism – you could add a relief pitcher, too. It feels odd to have a solid one-two punch at the head of the rotation, a closer with elite stuff – if not always elite results – and a potent offense and still feel like there are so many question marks.
The question has been asked many times about which guy you want the team to acquire. But as we saw with J.T. Realmuto, sometimes the issue gets solved without getting the best guy on the market. Which brings us to today’s poll question.
Which scenario would you find most disappointing on Opening Day?
- Steven Matz in the rotation (42%, 20 Votes)
- Brandon Nimmo starting in CF (42%, 20 Votes)
- J.D. Davis starting at 3B (17%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 48
All of us were knocked for a loop over the Covid madness of 2020. The joke is if 2020 was a product, everyone would rate it one star with the “wouldn’t recommend” tagline. But as Mets fans, the last few months of 2020 have been the best we’ve experienced in several years. Since then, we’ve lost the Wilpons and gained Steve Cohen. Lost Brodie Van Wagenen and gained Sandy Alderson. Lost Robinson Cano and gained Marcus Stroman. Forget the “gained” aspect of those three sets – even if there were no replacements in place, those would be three terrific examples of addition by subtraction. The Wilpons were meddling, bumbling clowns, Van Wagenen was in over his head and Cano was an overpaid drug cheat. Not having to root for those three parts will make being a Mets fan going forward so much more enjoyable.
But that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods. The team still has some significant holes, poor defensive fits and too many similar players. Cano being busted for PEDs helps tremendously as it takes one of the lefty-hitting corner players and allows him to move to the position he should have been playing the past two years. Hopefully the Mets don’t botch this rare sports do-over that allows them to rectify a giant mistake of the past.
But unless they go on a spending spree similar to what Chris Dial proposed last month, it seems likely that there will still be an issue or three with how the team is shaped for Opening Day. Which brings us to today’s poll question:
What's the one thing you don't want to see happen in 2021?
- Someone besides Jeff McNeil being the primary starter at 2B (38%, 10 Votes)
- Brandon Nimmo being the primary starter in CF (35%, 9 Votes)
- Dominic Smith being the primary starter in LF (19%, 5 Votes)
- J.D. Davis being the primary starter at 3B (8%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 26
There was an ESPN piece published today ranking every World Series. It’s posted in The Garden, if you haven’t seen it yet. Anyway, it’s a reminder that the Mets are 2-3 in five trips to the Series. If we asked a poll question about which was the best World Series, my guess is that it would split along age lines. Those 60 and older would vote for 1969 and those younger would choose 1986. But the flip side isn’t so cut and dried. And let’s expand it to include some playoff defeats. Here are our contenders:
1973 World Series – Rusty Staub playing heroically – and terrifically – with an injured shoulder, Willie Mays pleading with the umpire over a blown call, the Mets having a 3-2 lead in the series only to have the manager panic and pitch guys on short rest in the final two games. They really should have won.
1988 NLCS – Darryl Strawberry‘s 165 OPS+, David Cone going 20-3, an NLCS matchup against a Dodgers squad that they went 10-1 against during the regular season, leaving Doc Gooden in for the 9th inning in Game 4, Sid Fernandez throwing beachballs in Game 5. They really should have won.
1999 NLCS – The best defensive infield ever, the season-ending sweep to force a tie for the Wild Card, Al Leiter‘s two-hit shutout in Game 163, Todd Pratt‘s walkoff HR in the NLDS, losing the first three games of the series only to battle back, John Olerud‘s two-run single off John Rocker, Robin Ventura‘s grand slam single, falling behind by five runs in the first inning of Game 6 but coming back to force extra innings. Maybe they shouldn’t have won but it was such a fun group and a memorable series.
2000 World Series – This isn’t the most painful one to me but it’s the one I like to think about the least. This team wasn’t the same as the year before and even though they went further, they lost to the Yankees. We can argue if they should have won but it should have been longer than five games.
2006 NLCS – Carlos Beltran with 127 runs, 116 RBIs and a .982 OPS, the senior citizen starting pitching that was decimated by injuries when the playoffs rolled around, a three-game sweep of the Dodgers for Part I of the 1988 NLCS revenge, #$%^& Aaron Heilman & #$%&#* Yadier Molina. And that MF curveball by Adam Wainwright. They really should have won.
2015 World Series – The closing kick to finish the season, the power surge of Daniel Murphy, the brutality of Chase Utley‘s slide, Part II of the 1988 revenge with a defeat of the Dodgers in the NLDS, A .650 OPS despite having to face Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke twice in a five-game series, the annihilation of the Cubs in the NLCS, an .833 OPS despite having to face Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, the complete collapse of the offense in the World Series, managing just a .552 OPS. You’ll remember dropped balls and lousy throws home but do you remember how inept the offense was? They were absolutely the better team – the offense just picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.
2016 Wild Card – Sorry, this one doesn’t even register.
Which playoff defeat was most painful?
- 1988 NLCS (34%, 11 Votes)
- 2006 NLCS (25%, 8 Votes)
- 1973 World Series (16%, 5 Votes)
- 2000 World Series (9%, 3 Votes)
- 2015 World Series (9%, 3 Votes)
- 1999 NLCS (6%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 32