The joy of Pete Alonso, the disappointment of Michael Conforto and other opinions on the 2020 Mets

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but it doesn’t mean that all opinions are equal. If your opinion is that it was a joy to watch Juan Lagares play defense – that’s a perfectly valid opinion. But, if you go past that and say something like, Lagares was so good defensively in 2019 that it didn’t matter what he hit – well, that’s beyond opinion. And quite frankly, it’s demonstrably false.

And what makes things tougher is that no one wants to hear that their opinion, well, stinks. So, you end up with people who double down on what they believe, regardless of how much evidence exists to the contrary. They’ll ignore the mountains of evidence and instead look for self-proclaimed experts who believe what they believe.

What’s to follow is – hopefully – the exact opposite of that. There are going to be a host of opinions that you can tell me how bad they are and my reaction will not to be butt hurt about it but rather all you’ll get is a shoulder shrug. Hopefully, you’ll go into this with an open mind and consider that these come from someone who cares about the Mets and that some thought has gone into them. Whether that effort has been worthwhile, well, no promises made on that score.

The Mets handled the catcher position perfectly in the 2018-19 offseason, establishing what it would cost to get J.T. Realmuto – and rejecting it. Offering a multi-year deal to Yasmani Grandal to have him reject it. And then getting Wilson Ramos on a low-cost deal.

Pete Alonso is a joy to watch and the entertainment value he delivers far exceeds his bottom-line production. But it’s entirely possible his trade value exceeds his on-field value. And the Mets would be wrong if they didn’t know what other teams would give up to acquire him. Doesn’t mean they have to pull the trigger. But they should know.

The Robinson Cano deal already ranks as one of the 10 worst trades in Mets history and it’s entirely possible that when all is said and done that it ranks second.

Someone should sit down Jeff McNeil and tell him the player he was the last two months of the season is what he should be for the rest of the career. He’ll be more valuable shooting for the OPS title rather than the AVG title.

Given what’s coming behind him, Amed Rosario should be doing everything he can to learn how to play center field.

No one should envy the task Luis Rojas faces when games resume in keeping J.D. Davis and Yoenis Cespedes happy, assuming both are ready to play full time. The only solution to get both in the lineup is to play Cespedes in LF, Davis at 3B and McNeil at 2B. And you know full well management won’t sign off on that plan. So, it’s up to Rojas to make it work.

A healthy Brandon Nimmo is the Mets’ best offensive player.

Michael Conforto has been a great draft pick, a guy who busts his tail when he’s on the field and has willingly played any OF position the team has asked. And he’s still been a disappointment somehow.

The Mets would be better if Jacob deGrom was more overt in how he helped his teammates and what he demanded from the organization as a whole. My preference, by far, is for players to focus on themselves and what they can do to improve. But deGrom is so good that he’s earned the right, and arguably the expectation, to do even more.

Marcus Stroman is a fan favorite waiting to happen.

Steven Matz is the equivalent of post-1986 Ron Darling and we should treat him accordingly.

The key to the bullpen is a healthy and dominant Dellin Betances, who would allow Seth Lugo to move to the rotation. It would be great to get 2016 Rick Porcello or 2015 Michael Wacha. But in 2020, Lugo is the best pitcher of the bunch.

Edwin Diaz may be a great bounceback candidate but he was every bit as bad in 2019 as his surface numbers indicate.

Rojas has the more visible job but the most important offseason addition was Jeremy Hefner.

Unlike Sandy Alderson, Brodie Van Wagenen hasn’t done anything to merit his smug attitude. My sincere hope is that he one day is known as the architect of a World Series winner for the Mets. Until then, my preference is he dial back his smartest guy in the room act.

Alex Rodriguez put his ego aside and moved to 3B to allow the inferior Derek Jeter to remain at SS. He needs to put his ego aside again and not expect to be a minority investor and have the final say in all matters if his group becomes the new owners of the Mets. It’s not reasonable to expect someone to contribute a billion dollars or so to the cause and then ride in the back seat.

8 comments for “The joy of Pete Alonso, the disappointment of Michael Conforto and other opinions on the 2020 Mets

  1. David Klein
    April 28, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    How has Conforto been a disappointment? Please clarify

  2. April 28, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    My 2 Cents:

    Wilson Ramos signing – I agree that the Mets did the right thing on this and I only wish Grandal took their offer. Ramos has not been bad and I would rate it as a good move.

    Pete Alonso value – So I think you are wrong but only in a business sense and not in a baseball one. If the Mets could net a huge haul for Alonso, they’d likely be able to replace his production and improve overall but his star value is a huge value to the organization which is always going to be second fiddle to the Yankees.

    Cano deal stinks – No flaw in your statement. I’d go as far as Top 5.

    McNeil should aim for OPS over AVG – I mean, sure. However, I don’t want anyone to mess with a player who has only been successful as a Met. I kinda wanna watch how he evolves all on his own.

    Rosario to Center – This would be the most team friendly thing he could do. Gimenez is basically ready for the majors and would improve the shortstop defense. If Rosario could man center and be a plus defender that would be a huge thing the team has been missing.

    Luis Rojas has a hard job – However… if you think Cespedes stays healthy for the majority of the season to be his biggest problem, I’d be shocked.

    Nimmo is the best – Healthy and hitting, maybe. I feel like Nimmo is streaky and and when he is on a roll he is close to an MVP caliber player. If those streaks are completely about health… we may never know either way.

    Conforto a disappointment – I love Conforto and find nothing to be disappointed in. Perhaps people had unreasonable expectations.

    deGrom should set up – I don’t know how much deGrom can do to improve the people around him. What works for him may not work for others but I’m all for stars stepping up into bigger roles.

    Stroman and the fans – This is New York. He needs to be great, a lot and quickly this season to earn that. Our fans are fickle and remember the bad more readily than the good.

    Matz = post ’86 Darling – He’s another of the prospects I watched up through the minors and I know my love for him is skewed but it hurts to be rational sometimes.

    Key to 2020 is Lugo SP – I’d love to see it and think Lugo has the potential to be a front-middle starter but the Mets fire and miss on relief pitchers too often to bank on them being able to do that.

    Edwin Diaz stunk – He did and the Mets regret that deal but the only thing to do now is hope he gets better.

    Hefner’s Importance – Coaches are easy to blame when things go wrong but they rarely get credit when things are going right.

    BVW has too much swagger – I get the approach on a character and sales level. Brodie needs to carry that swagger and hope his moves stick because that is the character he’s already built and to change his character now would feel like he was admitting he was overmatched.

    Rodriguez’s ego – I will never buy A-Rod to the Mets again. I’ve been burned before.

  3. Phillip Hughes
    April 29, 2020 at 8:23 am

    No way in any reality that Nimmo is the Mets best hitter; if Rosario goes to center where does the rest of the outfield play?

  4. April 29, 2020 at 9:01 am

    I too have never been disappointed in Conforto. Why should anyone be ? Kid came up during a WS run and produced.
    A couple of injuries have curtailed what has been above avg production. His defense is underated, need to leave him alone in RF and he will blossom.

    If Cano doesn’t pop into him early last year in the OF, Conforto’s numbers would have looked more like
    .290 35 100 batting behind Alonso. The only disappointment I have with him is that he has Scott Boras as his agent. Darn, it probably means he won’t be a Met for very long ! So enjoy him Met fans.

    Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

  5. Remember1969
    April 29, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Another great thought provoking exercise . .

    My opinions on the same topics:

    Catching situation: I tend to agree with your perspective. I was hoping they could work out a trade for Realmuto that wouldn’t ‘give away the farm’, but with that not happening, Ramos was a decent second prize. It is the ‘what might have been’ that I still wonder about – would Realmuto have brought out the best in Syndergaard? A lot of dominoes wouldn’t have fallen the way they did – probabaly would not have traded for Stroman.

    Pete Alonso: Agree with this one. They should know the trade values of every player at all times. The bottom line is production turning into wins. If his (or anyone else’s) entertainment value exceeds on-field production, now the balance becomes current trade value vs. future spending potential by having more fannies in the seats because of that entertainment value. I think Jeff McNeil may actually be a better example of this discussion.

    Robinson Cano trade: I agree. As an ‘in the moment’ trade, it was poor, 2019 made it even worse, but as with all trades, it needs several more years to completely judge it. Only if Edwin Diaz turns into the next coming of Mariano will this ever get up to even.

    Jeff McNeil: I disagree with this one. I would like to see his OBP be his primary target. Cut the power stroke, and try to hit .350 or more. Strike out less than 40 times over 600 PA. Become the best #2 hitter and let the guys behind him clean up.

    Amed: Sure. Although I am not convinced we have seen the best of him at shortstop yet. I still am not sold on Giminez being better and Mauricio is a ways away. To me it is an all or nothing .. if he is going to move, do it 100% and leave shortstop behind now.

    LF/3B/2B: Opinion here: Cespedes will never play more than one game in a row in left field, probably not even that. My bigger concern is getting Smith more involved than being just a pinch hitter. I don’t think I can advocate for him to be the strong-side platoon with Davis, but he needs 400 ABs (assume a regular season).

    Nimmo: I am a Nimmo fan as well, but I have a hard time with the definition of ‘best offensive player’.

    Conforto: Agree 100% There is a really weird feeling with him .. like he should be hitting .300 with 35 homers and 120 RBI every year. He (and Rosario) was my early pick for a truly great ‘breakout’ career year. Unfortunately he just seems to get hit with the odd injuries – that concussion really hurt him last year.

    deGrom: This one is hard to see – we don’t know what goes on inside the clubhouse, and also if he were to take a more ‘captain’ like approach, would it detract from his own successful routine. But I certainly cannot dispute your opinion.

    Stroman: No question. I think the Mets should absolutely be looking to extend him. (see Alonso discussion above).

    Matz: The only issue I take with that is that Matz has never been the pre-1987 Darling. Darling was still the #2 starter in 87 and 88 .. Matz will never be that.
    (I am a Matz fan and really hope that he can become a solid #3 starter and end up being the second best lefty in Mets history, but he has some work to do to get there).

    Bullpen: I respectfully disagree with this one. My opinion is that there is no one key to the bullpen and if there was, it would be Diaz, followed by Familia. I think don’t believe they should ever think about Betances being dominant – if he is heathy and throwing well, he is another piece of the success. Wilson needs to throw like last year, Gsellman has to be at least average, and Brach (my darkhorse for most valuable reliever) needs to be good to eliminate overall risk in the bullpen. To me it is a committee, not a one person key.

    Diaz: OK.

    Hefner: Interesting thought. I would like to see a full article on this supposition. I would still pick Rojas as the most important addition. I am much more hopeful than I was with Beltran.

    GM: Yea, I can see this. But other than the Cano trade, there are some positives to see – the Davis trade, the 2019 draft (I am really high on Matthew Allan – I think that was a major coup). Even the Broxton deal on the surface at the time filled a hole – the team speed, defense, 4th outfielder. Perhaps he could have seen his lousy offense more clearly, but . . Same deal with Marisnick – will that turn out to be the same? I am not upset about those deals. I didn’t like giving up SWR for Stroman, but, overall not a bad deal. Coronavirus can be blamed in the long run if they only get a half year from Stro but for a year and a half and potentially more (QO or FA), it was not a bad risk from my view. I am even hopeful that the Familia signing will turn out reasonably well.

    A-Rod: not going there until something actually happens. This ownership and sale thing is a circus and I don’t think it makes much sense to expend energy on the what-ifs here. There are enough on field what-ifs to blog about 🙂

    Finishing random thoughts/opinions:
    My upside players – those that I thought would be better than ever:
    (1) Conforto
    (2) Rosario
    (3) Nimmo
    (4) Dom Smith – struggling to find his spot, but really pulling for him. I loved his season ending walk-off and have always been a fan.
    (5) Matz
    (6) Diaz – he just has to be.

    My regression players – those that will not follow up on their prior success
    (1) Ramos – caught lightning in a bottle last year. As he ages, I cannot see him maintaining the amount nor level of play
    (2) Lugo – I just fear that the UCL is a bigger injury waiting to happen.

    My regressing to the mean players – those that will still be very good, but not better than 2019
    (1) Alonso – This pick for HR total. He could actually be better in other ways – cut down on the strikeouts, for example, but if he doesn’t hit 50+ dingers, it will be a disappointment to many
    (2) McNeil. Still an excellent hitter, but per the discussion above, what kind of a hitter his he? He will struggle to answer that.

    My crusing along players . . .2019 was the expectation for the future
    (1) deGrom – tough to keep the level of his excellence up, but 3 in a row is attainable.
    (2) JD Davis – a good hitter that will keep it going

    Others: Familia ..getting better; Wilson . .not as good as 2019, Brach .. sleeper for being the bullpen ‘ace’ – not closer, but the Lugo of 2020, Gsellman – WYSIWYG; Betances . .anybody’s guess – do not anticipate a return to his glory days on the other side of town, but not terrible either. Back-up Catcher: Ugh – need more. Back-up infield – Guillorme will be serviceable, E. Nunez will be up and be a positive.

    I guess that leaves Cano. I donno where to put Cano. He will never be an all-star again – will he be a solid contributor? I’ll leave it that his defense and health will be bigger issues than his bat.

    Apologies for the length . .that was fun.

  6. TexasGusCC
    April 29, 2020 at 11:33 am

    I also feel that Conforto is capable of much more and that’s why I have compared his profile to Daniel Murphy’s. He could be the Mets best hitter while Nimmo is the most diverse hitter, taking into account a patience/power outlook.

    Late last year, I was in favor of asking around to weigh value for Alonso and possibly to open up first base for Davis. That doesn’t mean that Alonso would be traded. However, after seeing his character during this storm, I think you keep strong leadership qualities like Alonso’s and look for moreover of this type of individuals. The Astros under Luhnow were always monitoring the value of certain players on the market, but that doesn’t mean they traded any away.

    Lastly, something that no one can deny BVW is how he has completely upgraded this front office. From bringing in Baird and Red Sox boys, to changing the player health approach, to using kinesiology, this team is actually approaching the 21st century, whereas they used to be stuck in ancient baseball times.

  7. Eraff
    April 29, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    The Captaincy thing is Very Over Rated…my opinion

    Conforto— it’s tough to be disappointed in an 850 OPS Guy….. almost unfair. 2000 ab’s in his career, and his Split versus Lefties is about 700 OPS. If that continues, he’s more valuable as a Bench Bat when lefties start—- I’m not ready to suggest that for Now, but that’s reality.

    I believe there’s more to get there, and I wish his approach emphasized driving the ball to all fields more. I believe he’d have better overall production and power…maybe a few less HR’s.

    Nimmo as the best Hitter…Offensive Player?….. maybe that’s a projection.

    I’d love to see these guys peak and stay healthy.

  8. April 29, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Agree with most of this, Brian.

    It seems like madness to consider trading Alonso, but if some team is willing to overpay you really have to consider it. His off-field value does include his budding star power and his nice guy image, but (and I only say this for comparison’s sake) how many times did the Mets make the playoffs let alone win a WS with Wright/Reyes/Beltran? These are (to varying degrees) beloved players with star power whose primes as some of the best the franchise has ever had were wasted by poor management/team building.

    I guess my point here is that this is a team sport, and a shrewd GM will look to improve the team in any way possible, especially before a player becomes so popular with the fan base that they become essentially untradeable.

    And hey, we may actually get close to the best version of this team on the field if the modified league does include the DH. Silver linings, right?

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