Adrian Gonzalez remains a starter past Memorial Day

Well, Adrian Gonzalez has made it to June and he’s still in the majors, starting more often than not. Unfortunately, that says more about the Mets than it does about Gonzalez. We have the team’s preference for veterans, combined with potential first base replacements on the DL and their Triple-A first baseman floundering while performing in a hitter’s league. Right now on June 6, one could easily argue – who would play there instead of him?

Last night Gonzalez came up in a key situation in the fifth inning. The Mets trailed by two runs but he came up with no outs and two runners in scoring position. He popped out to left and didn’t get a run home. Hey, it happens. The problem is that it’s happening way too often for the Mets in general and Gonzalez in particular. While earlier in the year, Gonzalez came up with some timely hits, that hasn’t been the case here lately. He also batted with a runner in scoring position in the seventh inning but struck out to end the frame.

Through games of May 8, Gonzalez had a 0.31 WPA, which was one of the best marks on the club at the time. Now his WPA sits at (-0.56), meaning his offensive production has cost the team nearly a win over the past month. It’s important to remember that WPA has virtually no predictive ability. Just because Gonzalez has been bad the past month doesn’t mean he’s going to be that way going forward. It just illustrates how he hasn’t been getting it done at all here recently.

First base is an offensive position and Gonzalez’ lack of hitting really sticks out when we compare him to his positional peers. There are 17 players in the National League with at least 150 PA who have played at first base. Gonzalez ranks 13th in both wOBA (.301) and wRC+ (92) and 15th with a .699 OPS. Overall, he has a 0.0 fWAR. He’s played 50 games and put up replacement-level stats.

Perhaps when Yoenis Cespedes returns from the DL, the Mets can move Jay Bruce to first base and move Gonzalez to the bench. It’s not like Bruce has been wowing us with his 0.1 fWAR but at least he can point to his plantar fasciitis as an excuse for his poor play. Maybe a move to a less demanding defensive position will help wake up Bruce’s bat.

The Mets hoped to catch lightning in a bottle with Gonzalez and at minimum wage, many fans thought it was a gamble worth taking. There have been some highlights along the way, like his two-homer game against the Reds and his grand slam against the Nationals. But it’s hard to argue that he’s pushed the team forward.

Right now, the Mets should be scheming ways to get him out of the starting lineup, hopefully with a better replacement than Kevin Plawecki. Hopefully they are having internal discussions about promoting Peter Alonso, who if nothing else would give them a righty bat to use at the position. Alonso has cooled off from his earlier pace, in part because he wasn’t going to maintain that all year and part because there’s not a ton of offensive threats in the Binghamton lineup. In his last eight games, he’s batting .211 but has drawn nine walks as opposing pitchers are seemingly choosing to let anyone else beat them.

The good news for Gonzalez is that even if the Mets do decide to jump through hoops to replace him in the starting lineup that he’s performed well this year as a pinch-hitter, so they have a reason to keep him around. He’s reached base five times in seven trips to the plate as a PH, with a walk and four hits.

You can never really tell these things from afar but Gonzalez seems like a good guy. There have been no reports of him rocking the boat and his video tribute on Memorial Day was easily the best one given by any member of the team. If asked to guess, my assumption would be that he would handle a move to pinch-hitter and defensive replacement with dignity. Now it’s up to the Mets to make it happen and test that hypothesis.

9 comments for “Adrian Gonzalez remains a starter past Memorial Day

  1. Eraff
    June 6, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Gonzales “upside” is a plus 700 OPs…and not much more. The Guy has an “almost HOF Career”–very similar to Keith Hernandez in many ways. His 2016 OPS at 784 was 60 points below his lifetime Mark. These guys don’t perish overnight, but that was a strong forshadowing for 2017 and the present season—He is almost 500 ab’s into what is a personal abyss. It aligns with his age and his injuries.

    Jay is younger…likely injured. The Mets cannot win with the present production of either guy—but bruce gives you a shot at an 800 plus ops for the rest of the way.

    There is no “choice” between the two.

    The Mets must play Bruce, Conforto, Nimmo, Ces…. work some OF/1b for Jay….. wilmer gets 1b ab’s.

    Biggest worry—is conforto OK physically? Heyward had a shoulder injury that has greatly compromised his offensive career—say a little prayer for Conforto…young talent deserves a better fate.

    • June 6, 2018 at 12:13 pm

      I’m not worried about Conforto at all.

      After a strong first week, Conforto went through a Granny-esque slump. In 18 games and 73 PA, he put up a .457 OPS that was only that high thanks to 18 walks. In his last 101 PA, he has an .888 OPS.

  2. June 6, 2018 at 10:46 am

    What happened to Dominic Smith? He went from being the no. 2 top prospect in the system and co-savior of the franchise to hitting home runs despite a bit of pudge in a cup of September coffee to buried in Vegas. If AGon has nothing in the tank, at least play the kid. Not like Peter Alonso isn’t earning a promotion either.

    • TexasGusCC
      June 6, 2018 at 11:07 am

      Mike, many times I ask myself: if we see these things, what do those that have no other job than to see these things thinking?

      Alderson is the Mets’ biggest problem. He is inflexible in his dinosaur ways and despite his lip service to “adjust”, just can’t find it in himself.

      I was thinking today of how the Reds turned down Nimmo in the Jay Bruce debacle, er, trade. And how Alderson had the Mets giving up Flores and Wheeler for Gomez. How ownership last year wouldn’t put money into deals to get better prospects, like the Yankees did. Understand, the Mets can easily be worse than they already are.

      You get out of things, what you put into them. Cheap and foolish equals LOLMets.

      • Chris F
        June 6, 2018 at 11:19 am

        Alderson is a problem. I strongly encourage folks to read his interview yesterday on CBS Sports I think..also covered at MMO. It clearly outlines the deep division of running a sports team with my perspective. He is completely satisfied with the great bulging middle of taupe-colored mediocrity with a possible hope for the post season. I utterly despise that approach. All the wind-speaker double talk that spews from his mouth is a smoke screen for his belief that being good is fine and that hes not “all in” on winning.

    • Michael
      June 6, 2018 at 11:32 am

      I recall reading that they have put Smith in the outfield in the minors. Could be wrong but I’m pretty sure I read it.

      • June 6, 2018 at 12:10 pm

        A trip to Baseball-Reference could remove all doubt.

        He’s played parts of 5 games in the outfield since May 19.

  3. MattyMets
    June 6, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    This is what I was afraid of with signing AGon. He’s not lighting in a bottle, but he doesn’t stink on toast either. So we’re stuck with a replacement level player. His average bat aside, having him and the equally sure-handed but range-challenged Cabrera on the right side have resulted in a gaggle of seeing eye ground ball hits.

    I envisioned an infield with a young, relatively nimble Dom Smith at first alongside a gold glove second baseman like Josh Harrison, Dee Gordon or Jason Kipnis with Cabrera at third. But our GM seems to favor lumbering veteran power hitters who are prone to injuries and/or prolonged slumps.

    • TexasGusCC
      June 7, 2018 at 1:31 am

      Domonic Smith is starting to heat up. Time to make the change. You’re right in that AGone is a replacement value player, but at least Smith has the opportunity for more. Let Bruce go on the DL, cut Gonzalez, and let’s put a little energy in this lethargic bunch. I don’t see why Bautista isn’t playing over Bruce, to tell you the truth.

      I think there are possibilities with this team, but the mix stinks and the old guys are barely treading water. Cabrera shot his load; time to recognize that and put him at #6 where he belongs. Smith has more upside than Frazier and Mesoraco gives them a chance. The starting pitching is coming around. The lineup can be fixed with health and a couple of moves. Matt, I leave the bullpen to you. For Friday’s article, tell me how we can fix the bullpen.

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