The 100-year-old men, Robert Gsellman’s redemption, the Juan Lagares dilemma

September means expanded rosters and the Mets have 33 guys to use as they play out the string. Which may make you wonder why we keep seeing the same lineup with guys on the wrong side of 30 again and again and again. Three of the top five players in PA in September were Jose Reyes, Nori Aoki and Asdrubal Cabrera and those guys are a combined 100 years old.

Without a doubt, those three guys have been productive down the stretch. In September Aoki had a .375 OBP, Reyes had a .530 SLG and Cabrera chimed in with a 1.038 OPS. With four offensive starters traded and another two disabled, clearly the Mets wanted to field a lineup that was at least somewhat representative of an MLB club. But wouldn’t it have been possible to play two of these guys each night and give some playing time to other guys?

Gavin Cecchini (8), Phillip Evans (5), Matt Reynolds (9) and Travis Taijeron (10) had just 45 percent of the starts that our three veterans did. And 22 percent of their starts came when Amed Rosario was out with stomach issues.

Sure, none of the quartet listed in the last paragraph are likely MLB starters. But if the organization thinks this little of them not to play them in meaningless games in September against other also-rans, then let’s give up the charade completely and cut them from the 40-man roster this winter. It will be four more spots to spend on righty middle relievers.

CHASING AN OPENING DAY RELIEF SPOTChase Bradford gave up 5 ER in his first 6 IP. But since his recall on August 2, he has a 2.93 ERA and a 1.121 WHIP over 27.2 IP. He’s not overpowering. Back in older days we would have referred to him as a sinker/slider guy. But he keeps the ball in the park, just 3 HR in 33.2 IP and has a 55.9 GB%. You wouldn’t want four guys like Bradford in the pen. But in this era where teams prefer guys who throw 95 and above, he offers a nice change of pace and the results here lately speak for themselves.

CATCHERS COME THROUGH – Many people are incredulous when Sandy Alderson says that he likes his catchers. These people hoped that the Mets would look to upgrade the position in the offseason. But the Mets have a .752 OPS from the four catchers they’ve used this season and the worst one of the group, Rene Rivera and his .684 OPS over 183 PA, won’t be back next year. NL catchers as a whole have a .735 OPS this season and the Mets have the seventh-best production in the league from their backstops.

Both of their primary backstops are finishing the season strong. Travis d’Arnaud has a .993 OPS – only a .267 BABIP – in his final 79 PA. Kevin Plawecki finally hit in his second stint in Triple-A this year and has carried that over into the majors. In his last 89 PA, he has a .307/.416/.480 line. The hits are falling in much more for Plawecki, as he has a 339 BABIP in this stretch. But his 12 BB and 13 Ks ratio is extremely encouraging and his throwing seems much improved, too. You’d have to put the odds of the Mets spending money on a catcher at about zero.

GSELLMAN FINISHES ON AN UP NOTE – In this season of disappointments, perhaps the most unexpected one came from Robert Gsellman. When nearly every other pitcher battled an injury of some sort or another, Gsellman was healthy. He just wasn’t good. But after returning from the minors in mid-August, Gsellman posted a 3.50 ERA over his final eight starts, a span covering 43.2 IP. He got his HR allowed in check, as he had a 0.8 HR/9 and an 8.5 HR/FB rate in this span, compared to 1.5 and 18.3 rates, respectively, in the beginning of the season. It probably won’t be enough to get him a rotation spot on Opening Day but at least he ends the year with a good taste in his mouth.

A TWIST ON THE OLD TALE – For many players, the question seems to be can his bat carry his glove. But for Juan Lagares, the question remains if his glove can carry his bat. In this age of high offensive output, Lagares has been even more disappointing with the bat than normal. In 272 PA, he has a .661 OPS. That’s 21 points fewer than what he did last season, which was nothing to write home about, either. His 75 OPS+ is the worst mark of his career.

When most hitters are trying to figure out how to elevate the ball, Lagares has just a 28.8 FB%. It looked like he was making strides in this department last year, as his FB% rose from 31 to 35.3 percent. But he’s taken a step backwards this season. He doesn’t walk, he doesn’t hit for power and his strikeout rate has gone up.

But his defense is terrific. Because of his glove – and a lesser degree his contract – the Mets would love to see him be a starter. But it’s next to impossible to commit to a guy with a balsa wood bat who also gets injured every season. It will be interesting to see if the Mets trade him this offseason. If they keep him and he’s not a starter, he’ll be one of the highest-paid outfield reserves in the game.

11 comments for “The 100-year-old men, Robert Gsellman’s redemption, the Juan Lagares dilemma

  1. NormE
    October 1, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Good observations, Brian.
    It seems to me that a key to getting good production from the two catchers is to give each roughly the same amount of playing time. This way neither one gets overly tired. Of course the numbers recently posted by both Plawecki and TdA are mostly Sept. numbers, so we have to be aware of that.
    As for Lagares, I have always loved his defensive play. But, if you can package him with some other(s) in a trade for a desirable player, I’d have to consider it.
    The thing is, can the Mets live with a centerfield manned by Nimmo/Conforto?
    What would a package of say Lagares and Flores bring?
    From a pure defensive outlook I don’t think too many teams could boast of a better middle trio than Rosario, Guillorme and Lagares. But that may never happen.

    • October 1, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Thanks NormE

      It will be very interesting to see how they use the catchers going forward. You have to figure they’ll use Plawecki with Syndergaard. After that, who knows? TDA should certainly see the majority of time when there’s a lefty on the mound. But it’s hard to work a time share if those are the only two things you know for sure.

      And to the poster who likes creating new aliases – I’m just continuing to throw them in the trash. It has absolutely nothing to do with the content. You just need to pick one alias and stick with it.

  2. MattyMets
    October 1, 2017 at 10:35 am

    I’ve previously compared Collins to Pat Riley for his attachment to veterans andclear discomfort playing kids. It’s one thing to favor experience in a pennant race, but this has been just plain stupid and like the Newsday article points out, I can’t imagine the front office is on board. I get that injuries and trades left us so thin in the outfield that we had to bring in Aoki, but that doesn’t mean he has to play every game.

    • TexasGusCC
      October 1, 2017 at 11:01 am

      When Riles came to New York, the Knicks were a 26 win team for consecutive years. He made them a fifty win team immediately by using a smart defensive approach (only one foul can be called on each play) and giving his guys a mentality to help them be more successful. Riley used an unknown shopping market bagger in John Starks to be his defensive stalwart and made him learn to shoot threes. He rode a rookie in Hubert Davis in the playoffs to overcome the Bulls when Jordan took time off. Had Davis played better defense, he would have started everyday. Riley later benched a veteran Blackmon when he wasn’t performing any more.

      Collins is a clown, not a leader. Playing veterans to screw his younger players speaks to that. Riles just kept trying to win and whether you came from the Turkish league (Anthony Mason – the original point power forward), the supermarket, or were a first round pick, the rules were the same.

      • Matt Netter
        October 1, 2017 at 7:51 pm

        Gus, who knew you were such a Knicks fan? You make some good points about how he built that team (which was so much fun to watch), but once he established that lineup there was no cracking it. He always had a bench full of Gavin Chechinis.

        • TexasGusCC
          October 1, 2017 at 8:23 pm

          I was a Rockets fan, but Riles made me a Knicks fan. I was coaching at the time and was fascinated by his methods, strategies, and motivations. Even bought the “Winner Within” book. Loved it. Wish Collins had read it.

          If only he benched/rested Starks a bit during Game 7 when he was 2-19 from long distance… The only blemish on Riley’s Knicks tenure.

          Chauncey Billips said that Riley was the best motivator he ever played for, “whether he is exaggerating, lying, or just making the whole damn thing up”.

  3. TexasGusCC
    October 1, 2017 at 10:51 am

    The Lagares debate has us looking at his twin brother, Kevin Pillar. Pillar has been the Blue Jays CF with similar WAR to Lagares for several years when compared to plate appearances; Pillar’s numbers may be a smidge better than Lagares’ offensively, but he gets over 600 plate appearances a year. That the Blue Jays have only Donaldson left as real firepower is the reason they are a losing club, because they won plenty with Pillar in the past.

    Too, Pillar has the luxury of playing everyday, while we know Lagares doesn’t. It would be hard to believe it hasn’t affected his psyche, but I’m not privy to how Lagares feels about his work environment. However, if the offensive guys hit, Lagares has value. Can the numbers value in how he saves the pitching arms and deletes runs by catching so many balls like those we saw Herrera not get to last night, or the dunkers that fall in creating offensive situations for the other team?

    Let Lagares work with a hitting coach all winter, let him play most days (say 130 games) to be consistent at the plate and if he stays healthy, this team will benefit from him, not suffer from him. On this team, the guys playing in the dirt are the issue, not those in the grass.

    • Chris F
      October 1, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      I think the Pillar comparison is interesting. One other big thing is this: Pillar stays on the field, so those defensive numbers do offset the bat, who is holding a just under .700 career OPS. Unfortunately for Lagares he cant get out of his own way with injuries. The thumb also undoubtedly is hurting his swing.

  4. Chris F
    October 1, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Im flat out shocked that Collins has not heard anything about his pen management whether it be from the FO or any other outlet which has covered it non stop. It is visible to everyone. And for all the love for Warthen we are hearing, he is involved with all the pitchers, and to run out someone 5, 6, 7+ nights in a row, plus the warm up bullets, and you get an overwhelming sense of ignorance or disinterest in health. His win each game at all cost regardless if thats the appropriate course. And we have all see the exhaustion of a pen going after 1 batter at a time beginning in the 6th.

    And now, when wins are meaningless and all that matters is seeing if anyone in the youth brigade has talent we get night after night of Reyes and Cabrera for reasons that remain mysterious.

    I have had the pleasure of meeting Collins several times. And he has always been wonderfully generous to myself and other fans that were there. I dont think there is any doubt he cares.

    But the message is now old. The team really did not win under his care. Until the signings of KJ, Uribe, Ces the Mets had nearly the worst offense in baseball. Quality players came in, and then the world changed. I think it is worth noting the WS and that Aug-Oct in 2015 was a wild anomaly, not the persistent quality of the team.

    Its time for new leadership. Collins had his run. It is a shame the end could not be recognized better. Had the FO just said 2 weeks ago to him: Thanks for everything TC, but you wont be rehired for next season. We are gonna throw you a nice thing on the way out the door, and the Mets HoF Committee met and will be putting your plaque next year.

    • October 1, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      How do you properly send off a guy who was here five years longer than he should have been? I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that question. I’m quite sure he doesn’t deserve a plaque.

      I’m thinking he should have received a five-minute video tribute before the last home game. Or three minutes if there wasn’t enough footage to make five minutes.

  5. Metsense
    October 1, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Too many veterans started too many games in September. Your solution made sense because the obvious reason should be to evaluate the marginal players for forty man roster spots in 2018. Good point, Brian.
    In the disaster of the 2017 Met Bullpen , Bradford and Sewald are the two middle relievers that had a decent year. The Mets need improvement it this area as those two are only adequate.
    TDA and Plawecki have changed my mind regarding upgrading the catcher’s position. Thank goodness because who were they going to get anyway.
    Lagares is a joy to watch in the field but being 100 OPS points below the average CF is too much. If they can they should trade him. The Mets need a defensive center fielder that can bat lead off. Cain is available and would solidify the lineup by addressing both needs. Cain makes the most sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: