It’s been a tough week for Robinson Cano.
While hoping that two off days and a rainout would help rejuvenate the 36 year old, instead we’ve seen him have to apologize to his manager for loafing on the field, we’ve seen him responsible for colliding in the field with the team’s best player, giving Michael Conforto a concussion and knocking him out of the lineup for an undetermined amount of time and we’ve seen Cano go 4-22 with a .455 OPS.
Yet he still plays every day and he still bats third in the lineup. Because he was good on another team three years ago. Brandon Nimmo was great on the Mets last year and is struggling this year and has been benched and moved up and down in the lineup. If only he was in his mid-30s, he apparently would have carte blanche to stink. We used to think this love of veterans was a blind spot for Sandy Alderson. But Alderson is gone and the Mets hired a GM who was going to be different and do unconventional things.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
There have been cries and howls for the dismissal of manager Mickey Callaway. And while these pleas are not without merit, it’s interesting how Brodie Van Wagenen has mostly escaped criticism. His signature move of acquiring Cano – and paying $100 million in cash and more in prospects – has been a disaster. And the expectation was that the last two or three years would be horrible but the first half of the deal would make up for it. If that’s the case, it’s frightening to think how 2022 and 2023 will look.
Cano, who one poster claimed at the time of the deal was, “a lock for a > .800 OPS for a couple of year (sic) at least,” sits with a .679 OPS after his first 171 PA with the Mets. He’ll have to hit like Conforto has to date – .926 OPS – for the remaining 118 games to overcome this dreadful start and get to that .800 OPS level.
But while the old and expensive Cano has been terrible, he’s had a lot of company among the players that Van Wagenen has brought in for 2019. Relievers Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson and Luis Avilan have combined for four IL stints and 26 ER in 36.1 IP for a 6.44 ERA. Wilson Ramos has a .626 OPS and his defense leaves a whole lot to be desired. Few imagined that he would be great behind the plate but the expectation was that he was going to be above average in throwing out runners and controlling the running game. Instead, runners have been successful on 28 of 33 attempts.
Keon Broxton put up a .371 OPS before being released. He was ineffective for most of his tenure, but it took him criticizing his role on the team to the media before he was mercifully cut. No one really expected Adeiny Hechavarria to hit yet he’s exceeded expectations by putting up a .333 OPS in extremely limited playing time. 35-year-old Jed Lowrie has yet to step on the field in a regular season game for the Mets and had a setback in his recovery and his return date is unknown. Walker Lockett, who came over in the Kevin Plawecki deal and was acquired to be a depth starter, has an injured elbow and hasn’t thrown a pitch in the minors.
And while not technically an acquisition, Van Wagenen had a layup of a move to make by non-tendering Travis d’Arnaud. Instead, he re-signed the perennially-injured catcher only to watch him put up a .247 OPS in 10 games – and looking worse defensively – before sending him packing. And as long as we’re talking about catchers, Van Wagenen also re-signed Devin Mesoraco to an NRI and then refused to put him on the Opening Day roster when d’Arnaud opened the year on the IL, despite allegations of promises made to do just that. Mesoraco did not have an opt out in his contract but asked for one when told he wasn’t going north with the club. Van Wagenen refused and Mesoraco refused to report.
Edwin Diaz has been very good, although his 3.23 FIP is not as impressive as his 2.16 ERA. Perhaps the best move made by Van Wagenen was picking up J.D. Davis, who has a 121 OPS+. But if it weren’t for injuries to Lowrie and Todd Frazier, Davis likely opens the year in the minors. And if at the end of February, someone told you that the best offensive player brought in by Van Wagenen was Davis, the only logical response would have been – you’re kidding me, right?
The team is in the middle of perhaps their easiest stretch of the season and they are 1-4. Both the starters and the offense are inconsistent and generally the less said about the defense, the better. Here lately the strength of the team has been the relievers and for a point of reference, the bullpen has a 4.40 ERA and a 1.391 WHIP for the season as a whole.
Callaway has been the easy scapegoat and he certainly does things that make you go – WTF. If the Mets lose today and get swept by the lowly Marlins, no one will be surprised if Callaway is shown the door. But while your pitchforks and torches are out for the manager, don’t forget to give a hard look to the GM, too.
Cano has been a major disappointment after the first quarter of the 2019 season. The same thing can be said about Van Wagenen.