The Mets need starting pitching. Once upon a time, this was a franchise known for starting pitching beginning with the Franchise himself: Tom Seaver. In the recent and more relevant past, there was a dream of five aces, a 2015 World Series run, and a 2016 Wild Card appearance. Even when the Mets fell off a cliff between 2017 and 2019, they still had their starting pitching. That’s not true anymore. Jacob deGrom is brilliant, but he stands alone. Zack Wheeler was foolishly left in the wind when he reached free agency (FA) in 2019, Steven Matz is now a home run machine, Noah Syndergaard will just be coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2021, and Matt Harvey, sadly, is gone and, even more painful for him, no longer good at pitching.
Now, it’s October 2020 and the Mets have a new owner-to-be in billionaire Steve Cohen. While the New York Post indicates his plan to invest heavily in analytics1, there is room to buy starting pitching in FA. That brings us to Trevor Bauer and Marcus Stroman. There appears to be a ramp up in Mets fans wanting the team to go after Bauer; however, the better choice is Stroman.
Both pitchers are 29 with similar career statistics if you review their Baseball-Reference page (ERA 3.90 for Bauer, 3.76 for Stroman). Bauer is the favorite for the 2020 NL Cy Young Award (ERA 1.73). However, one can argue that working out of the NL Central in this regional-centric season helped him quite a bit considering he had to face such juggernauts as the Kansas City Royals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Detroit Tigers, and the Milwaukee Brewers. Moreover, there are allegations regarding his spin rate increase this year being a tad suspect.
Stroman didn’t pitch this year due to an injury and, then, he opted out in this pandemic-shortened season related to COVID-19 concerns. While he only started 11 games and was merely mediocre for the Mets in 2019, there’s no reason to believe he can’t come back to the team ready to go in 2021 as a two or three starter. While he could use better defense behind being a more ground ball pitcher, he’s also as athletic as they come as a pitcher. He’s fun to watch. Both Bauer and Stroman are expressive on the mound, which is a nice contrast with the more stoic deGrom.
Bauer’s MLB experience is mostly in the Midwest with the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds. Stroman played for the Toronto Blue Jays, but he’s from Long Island and has experienced the harsh New York media for the last year plus. Thus, one might wonder if Bauer could handle New York. While both pitchers have a strong social media presence. Stroman brings fun, a social conscience, and argues a bit with fans, but nothing outlandish. Bauer is different.
Bauer goes after MLB quite a bit on Twitter and he’s been elevated by baseball media for being outspoken. He’s pointed out problems with MLB regarding Commissioner Rob Manfred, the Houston Astros cheating scandal, and MLB’s inability to grow their own game.
However, Bauer’s Twitter presence goes beyond just being outspoken on MLB issues. MLB is a powerful entity that can handle one of their stars tweaking them even if they don’t like it. On the other hand, Bauer has developed an unfortunate habit of going after individuals who clearly have less power than MLB and himself. Bauer has over 380,000 followers on Twitter, but he has quote-tweeted, replied, and tweet-stormed people with considerably less followers and power when he disagrees with them. Anyone who knows Twitter knows how this works. An avalanche then falls on the less powerful person that was started by Bauer and then finished by his followers in 2019 and in 2020. Please note that the most recent incident occurred within the last week. Please also note that this writer got blocked by Bauer’s agent for responding to one of her tweets when she defended him.
If you were the new Mets owner and front office, would you want a Bauer headache you don’t need? No matter how much Bauer may enjoy attention, the New York media will be brighter and louder when it comes to social media fiascos. Bauer makes Stroman look like a sweet summer child, a Game of Thrones reference for the uninitiated.
While we are all Mets fans here, there are more important things in life than baseball. It’s true that some fans will just look at the baseball and not care about off-the-field factors. It’s tough as there are always players that make it very hard to root for the laundry. Sometimes, there are owners that make it difficult as well. No one knows that better than a Mets fan. We just got rid of the Wilpons and can look forward to something better.
So, for the love of more than just the game, let’s go with Stroman.