New York Mets OF Yoenis Cespedes has yet to report Sun Trust Field, as the Mets prepare to lose their fifth straight game. ESPN reported general manager Brodie Van Wagenen notified the press that Cespedes is not with the team.
“He did not reach out to management with any explanation for his absence,” Van Wagenen said. “Our attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful.”
Cespedes, 34, was the designated hitter for Saturday’s 7-1 loss to the Braves, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He has served as the Mets’ designated hitter in eight games this season, going 5-for-31 (.161) with 15 strikeouts. He wasn’t in the starting lineup today.
From SNY – 2:40 PM EST – “The Mets do not believe Cespedes‘ safety is at risk, so it seems to be from that clarification that it is simply a player not showing up for work”
When Brody Van Wagenen receives his final verdict as Mets general manager, his one glaring error will live in the memory of fans like a drunken escapade. The tragedy of his fateful decision will linger for the foreseeable future, as Robinson Cano’s $24 million price tag (runs EACH SEASON through 2023) and Edwin Diaz’ relapses make each player untouchable. If watching both isn’t gut-wrenching enough, looking west starting in 2021 might produce sepsis.
The result of obtaining both albatrosses on the fateful day of December 3, 2018, is hard to fathom. Despite never producing a home-grown everyday player worthy of Hall of Fame induction since joining MLB in 1962, Van Wagenen’s first bold move as GM (hired on October 29, 2018), spit in the face of intelligence.
Despite recording two division titles and World Series appearances (both losses in five games) since 1989, the Mets lack of home-grown talent is alarming. Perhaps Van Wagenen viewed the 38 previous first-round selections since 1989 and drew his conclusions. From 1989 through 2017, the Mets 38 first-round draft selections yielded just three all-stars, David Wright (7x), Matt Harvey (1), and Michael Conforto (1).
Van Wagenen traded the Mets fourth (2018 first-round pick Jarred Kelenic) and fifth (2016 first-round draft pick Justin Dunn) highest-rated prospects, Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak for every Mets fan worst nightmare. Van Wagenen moved on the deal and even accepted paying Cano $100 of the $120 million remaining on his 10-year, $240 million contract signed in 2014.
The stalwart of the deal was Diaz, who at age 24 appeared to be one of the top relievers in baseball. Blessed with electric stuff, Diaz average 14.9 K per 9 innings, while posting a 1.01 WHIP, 2.64 ERA, .187 BA, .566 OPS, converted 109-121 save opportunities and Seattle won 82 percent of the games in which he appeared.
While the former Seattle closer fared well in his 24 appearances (Mets won 19 with Diaz posting 1.64 ERA, 13/14 Save/Save Opp.), his last 44 appearances have been a disaster.
Team Win Pct in App,
HR per 9
>>.545 win pct., 1.55 WHIP, 7.82 ERA in last 44 appearances
Cano meanwhile continues to struggle in his return to the Big Apple. Last season the former Yankee posted career lows in WAR (0.3), BA (.256), and OPS (.736). Now 37, there is little reason to foresee him returning to the form that saw him average 22 HR, 88 RBI, and a .848 OPS in the first 14 years of his career.
Meanwhile, Kelenic ranks 11th on MLB top prospect list, posting a .904 OPS (23 HR, 20 SB, .291 BA) across three levels in 2019. The former sixth pick in the 2018 draft, Kelenic’s rapid improvement, and five-tool ability have scouts drooling.
While the Mets lost Zack Wheeler to free agency and Noah Syndergaard to injury, watching Justin Dunn blow away his competition must sting. Dunn posted a 1.19 WHIP in 2019, striking out 158 in 131.1 innings and reached the majors in late September.
Watching Diaz melt under the New York spotlight and Cano growing older each minute, Van Wagenen’s gaffe could rank among the worst trades in team history. For a franchise known for their legendary blunders on the trade market (Nolan Ryan, Amos Otis, Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Ken Singleton, and Scott Kazmir, to name a few), that is saying something.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Such is the story of the New York Mets against the Atlanta Braves. Regardless of health, epidemic, flood, natural disaster, or an act of God, the New York Mets never fail to self destruct against their nemesis. Facing a top-heavy Braves lineup incapable of reaching scoring position without assistance from MLB’s new extra-inning rule, the Mets still shake with fear when seeing Atlanta.
Marcell Ozuna joined Brian Jordan, Freddie Freeman, Adeiny Hechavarria, Nick Markakis, Greg Norton, Chris Johnson, Erik Hinske, and two others this millennium to tie or give the Braves the lead in 9th inning on the Mets home field. The culprit once again was Edwin Diaz, who continues his fall from superior closer with Seattle, to court jester with the Mets. In his last 44 appearances, the Mets are 24-20, with Diaz allowing 13 HR and blowing seven saves.
Braves to hit game-tying or go-ahead HR
Ninth inning or later, at NY Mets
L, 5-3 (10)
L, 4-1 (10)
L, 8-7 (12)
W, 8-7 (14)
L, 5-4 (11)
>>Adeiny Hechavarria hit game-tying HR in 9th and go-ahead HR in 11th on 9/29/2019
In winning the NL East the previous two seasons, Atlanta thrives on defeating the Mets, winning 25 of 35 meaningful games, including winning 12 of 14 games at Citifield (does not include six late September games when Braves already clinched NL East).
The Mets continued a trend started last season, allowing home runs in the 9th and extra-innings. Since the start of 2019, New York’s pitchers lead the majors with 41 HR allowed (Diaz leads with 16) with 11 tying or giving up the lead.
Last season the Mets inability to put away games cost them a playoff berth. Despite just as troubling as watching another game clenched from the jaws of victory, was their inability to pick up Diaz in the bottom of the ninth. Once the game reached the top of the tenth, everyone knew what was coming. Only two games into their 60-game schedule and Mets fans have little reason to believe the 2020 version is any different than 2019.
When MLB and the rest of the sports world shut down operations due to the spread of COVID-19 in March, few knew how important their season would become. After bickering between the MLBPA and MLB owners forced commissioner Rob Manfred to mandate a 60-game season, few in society thought MLB could manage the epidemic, player’s health, and what’s best for the fans.
Despite the minuscule sample size, Opening Day around MLB proved therapeutic. While it’s a small step for Aaron Judge, it’s a massive step for humankind’s mental health. New rules, faces in new places, and avoiding lengthy games entertained fans. Starting with Giancarlo Stanton’s mammoth blast off Max Scherzer on Thursday, and ending with Matt Olson’s walk-off grand slam early Saturday morning, MLB’s best was on display.
Here are some factoids from Opening Day
In Flushing, Queens NY, the Mets improved to 39-12 in their last 51 season openers (the franchise lost their first eight games on Opening Day) with a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. New York won for the 22nd time in their last 25 home openers to start the season.
The Mets recorded their ninth shutout on Opening Day, and their third 1-0 victory. Yoenis Cespedes homered in the 7th inning for the Mets only run. It was Cespedes first HR since July 20, 2018.
The Mets are 5-1 against the Braves on Opening Day (won five straight). The Mets pitching staff has recorded 35 consecutive scoreless innings against Atlanta on Opening Day. The last player to score for Atlanta was Marcus Giles, won hit a two-run HR off Tom Glavine in the first inning of the 2004 season opener in Atlanta.
Despite not earning a win, Jacob deGrom extended his consecutive inning streak without allowing a run to 28. deGrom, Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson & Edwin Diaz, combined for 15 K for the Mets, the most for an Opening Day shutout since 1901.
Shane Bieber struck out 14 Royals in six innings, becoming the first pitcher to strike out 14 on Opening Day since Randy Johnson struck out 14 White Sox for the Mariners in 1996.
Shane Bieber, Nick Wittgren, and Brad Hand combined to strike out 18 batters for Cleveland, the most for a nine-inning game on Opening Day since 1901.
Sonny Gray held the Tigers to three hits in six innings in the Reds 7-1 win over the Tigers. Gray has gone 34 consecutive starts allowing six hits or fewer, setting an MLB record.
Toronto defeated Tampa 6-4, while the Jays top four batters, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, and Travis Shaw (all sons of former MLB players, each recorded a hit and scored a run.
The Red Sox 13-2 win over the Orioles marked their most significant margin of victory on Opening Day in franchise history.
Kyle Hendricks threw 103 pitches and going the distance in the Cubs 3-0 win over the Brewers. Hendricks was the first Cubs pitcher since Bill Bonham in 1974 to record a shutout on Opening Day.
Lance Lynn recorded six shutout innings while striking out nine Rockies in the Rangers 1-0 win. Lynn joined Jon Matlack (1980) and Charlie Hough (1989) in team history to record six shutout innings on Opening Day.
Texas won its inaugural game at Globe Life Field, marking the second time they were victorious in three home park openings (lost to Milwaukee Brewers in the first game at The Ballpark in Arlington in 1994 and defeated California at Arlington Stadium in 1972).
Max Kepler hit the first pitch from Lucas Giolito for a home run. He joined Ian Happ (Cubs in 2018 off Juan Urena), Kaz Matsui (Mets in 2004 off Russ Ortiz) and Dwight Evans (Red Sox in 1986 off Jack Morris) as the only players in MLB history to hit his team’s first pitch of the season for an HR.
Kepler also homered in his second AB, becoming the first Twins player since Jacque Jones (2002) and the fourth in team history (Gary Gaetti in 1982 and Brant Alyea in 1970)to homer twice on Opening Day.
Matt Olson ended Opening Day with a walk-off grand slam against the Angels. Olson joined Jim Presley (Seattle in 1986 vs. Angels) and Sixto Lezcano (Brewers in 1980 vs. Red Sox) to record a walk-off Grand Slam on Opening Day.
There are things that, after watching sports for a while, still surprise me. For example, the recent hiring of Lindsey Ruff as head coach of the New Jersey Devils when there were more recently successful candidates available, and who had been head coaches more recently than Ruff. And even won a cup, unlike Ruff.
But I digress. The New York Mets are a team that rarely surprises. In fact, here are the two scripts from the team playbook:
“Hey, we gave a star player contract to a star player. Why do you want more than one?”
‘Hey, we are making an open competition for jobs, so get ready for .223 hitters making minimum wage! Because Bernie Madoff. Still.”
By the way, the S and P 500 performance gains since the Madoff arrest in December 2008? 158%. Considering the “Rule of 72” – how much compounded interest does it take for money to double? If the Wilpons borrowed $500 million with the Mets as collateral in January 2009 and just stuck it in the S&P? It’s be worth over $2 billion dollars. Which makes me doubt that the Wilpons couldn’t recover after Madoff, unless they’re just THAT bad with money.
In the last 5 years, the Mets have surprised me at least three times. The first surprise was the 2015 deal to acquire Yoenis Cespedes, and subsequent resignings. Cespedes anchored the Mets in the 2015 regular season, but sort of vanished in the postseason.
As a side note, you do need regular season performers to get yourself to the playoffs, and no one can really diminish Cespedes regular season production when he does play with the Mets. Of course, his two issues are health, and that he hit .207 in the Mets postseason series that he’s played in after being a .350 hitter in American League playoffs. Maybe the pitching in the NL is better?
Surprise number two was the hiring of Mickey Calloway as a manager. That Sandy Alderson went with a “New age” manager, who sees the love of players as more important than winning is…disappointing. It’s not old school like USMC Sandy. Also, a pitching coach as a manager? Yes, the Mets have a talented batch of arms, but they need to score, also.
By the way, both of those surprises are busts, on different levels. Cespedes is a bust in his inability to help the team while collecting what, $104 million from the Mets? In 4 years? And Calloway? He can boast of a career managing record that’s over .500. But he also started it by winning what, 20 of his first 21 games? And having the 2019 Mets second half bail him out?
By the way, how did the 2019 Mets bail him out? Well, that is surprise number three: Brodie Van Wagenen, a Forbes 40 under 40 guy.
When the Mets hired Van Wagenen, it seems to be following the trend in sports of having non-traditional talent enter a sport. This has happened in the past, as teams have hired announcers or GM’s from other sports, but right now the trend seems to be hiring player agents into General Manager positions.
On one level that makes sense on the short term. These people have contacts with agents and players, and are familiar with whom they represent on all levels of professional sports, including the minors.
But why would the Mets spend that capital on an agent turned GM when the Mets historically don’t drop fat cash on free agents? That’s like buying a box of condoms to bring to a middle school graduation. Technically there’s a use for it, but it’s not likely to happen, and if it does, it’s going to be completely and absolutely horrific to the public eye.
Full disclosure- I thought it was a bad hiring. The Mets do not sign star powered free agents. Cespedes was already here, and no one was paying him Mets money. Piazza signed here to be abandoned by the team, who only added slightly above average talent to him carrying teams singlehandedly. Jay Payton and Benny Agbayani in the OF? For real?
So if this guy was hired to bring stars in without actually paying them? They could have hired me.
Brodie kicked off his GM career by acquiring a client. His first strong move was to trade for Robinson Cano and his huge, long term contract and declining production plus promising reliever Edwin Diaz for an expiring contract asset in Jay Bruce, Mets top prospect Jaredd Kelenic, a top pitching prospect in Justin Dunn, plus other assets.
This move looked horrible from the get go for two reasons. First, Cano was coming off a PED suspension and was in decline even with those drugs,. Plus he had 5 more years at $25 million in front of him. Diaz had a fantastic year, but there were LOTS of high level closers on the market who all went for far less than the $25 million it cost to acquire Cano, who again was a client of Brodie’s agency.
And Bruce? Disappointing as a Met, but still clearly an asset as he was both traded to Seattle and traded from Seattle.
In short, the Mets could have stuck Jeff O’Neil at second, signed a top reliever, traded Bruce for a prospect, and been in better financial and roster position. Instead hat they did was go to a supermarket, see all of the food, then go home and order take out for way more. That’s not hindsight. That was plain foresight.
The reason this deal could be a major disaster is Kelenic and Dunn. They’re both reaping praise in the minor leagues. If either of them become a star, this can go from a grade of F to a grade of “Fuck.”
I get making a bold trade is probably an ego thing, or maybe a contract demand in a negotiation, but there’s more than that. Van Wagenen doesn’t seem to be good at swapping out role players. He’s made a bunch of moves- including releasing golden Mets prospects Dilson Herrera and then resigning Dilson Herrera two days later- that really just rotate a pile of shit in for a pile of shit.
This doesn’t seem positive at all, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering…Mets. But Brodie has made some moves that turned my head and made me think twice on him. For now at least.
To start with, many new GM’s make a trade in which they get taken advantage of. It’s almost a rite of passage. And while losing Jay Bruce isn’t a crime, if Cano was healthy and had a slashline of 280/20/85, and Diaz had 50 saves? Nobody cares about the prospects. Also, Cano now has 4…well, 3 years left. If the designated hitter unfortunately becomes a National League thing, Cano fits the traditional role perfectly, and the Mets can make room for all of their resent youth. As long as Dominic Smith can play outfield.
The Jed Lowrie deal was awful. You can maybe defend the premise, but it has produced nothing. An absolute waste of resources.
Brodie is getting more than a little redemption from me. He’s actually earning some respect. For now. Why? Because he’s working in Wilpon handcuffs and is showing that he’s relatively smart and creative.
The renegotiation of the Cespedes contract was brilliant. BVW turned a $29 million albatross into a $6 million “show me” contract. And Cespedes will perform in this short season knowing that, since he wants to go back to notoriously cheap Oakland, he better hit and throw some people out on the basepaths. Also, stop riding horses. And fighting boars…which is a weird thing to have to say to an adult.
The J.D. Davis deal? He looked at a guy producing in the minors but not the pros, and figured he can be acquired for not a lot, and maybe just needed at bats as a pro. Davis had a great season as a part timer hitting over. 300 and hitting more than 20 home runs. Davis was acquired for 3 minor leaguers that may work out in Houston, but will have to crack a World Series stealing lineup. If I were them I’d learn how to play drums.
Earlier I mentioned Brodie’s poor job in assessing role players, but the Joe Panik pick up- a gold glove caliber player with World Series experience- was a strong role player move, and Panik played decently for the Mets. Mets GM’s need to shop a waiver wire because Wilpons, and this was a solid pick up.
In the same area, the Justin Wilson for $5 million per year for two years was a first year bargain. If Wilson has another year similar to his first with the Mets? He’ll be in line to make a lot more than $5 million after this contract
We also have to look at how Brodie has handled the roster of youth that he’s inherited. I want to speak on four different players: Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, and Peter Alonso.
Conforto is a very tradable player, because he seems to only play the second half of the season. But he’s also a player where you’re not going to get equal or better value for, unless you add in more pieces to acquire a better player. For the Mets he provides left handed power, which is a good thing in CitiField. Adding in his low cost? He is a keeper for the near future. Way to go for not adding him in for the Marcus Stroman deal, or for some random failed push to fail in the postseason in 2019.
Smith and Nimmo both fill important roles for the Mets. Smith is a versatile player who is just finding his stride, and will eventually find a full time role with the organization or become a valuable trade piece after he shows a true full season of work. Smith was projecting into a .280/30/X player as a first baseman, which for the Mets would be a welcome windfall….unless the Polar Bear brought an even better stat set.
Nimmo is an on base guy. He gets hit by balls. Sometimes on the chin. But he ends up not on the bottom but on top. For a small salary, he is a catch, He is not a bear than Alonso. He comes with less power. Like a twink. Yes, that’s a lot of innuendo for no real reason.
Speaking of Alonso, that Brodie didn’t use that games played impacting future contracts nonsense and tried to win right out of the box? YES. MORE LIKE THIS. Winning is the goal. And while in an era where you have a budget and have to keep on the lookout for both salary paid under the cheap old Wilpons and avoiding the luxury tax? You do need to manage today and tomorrow. The Mets were not winning the World Series in 2019, so it was good to see what Alonso is capable of today, and lets kick the salary requirements down the road one year sooner, ideally to a new owner who has money. Besides, nine more years like that and the rookie of the year will be a hall of famer!
Brodie made a solid move in keeping Omar Minaya around. Minaya is a long time baseball guy and not only has an eye for talent, but also for recruiting Latin American players. That a GM kept a former GM on staff is a sign on confidence in himself, and also a sign of humility in knowing he needs some help. And Van Waganen has made some interesting moves with the minor league system that he inherited.
While I do not agree with trading Kelenic, I can not disagree with the moves of clearing out a minor system of maybe for realized potential today. The Marcus Strohman for a bunch of maybe is a solid trade. Stro is a NY native and a 3rd starter. What was given up is a lot of Mets picks, who often do not pan out.
Trading an inherited minor system of not your picks is a smart move if you can draft well enough to replace it. And the players that the Mets have drafted under Brodie? While of course the picks have not produced as of yet, as he has only had two drafts, his drafting has received positive acclaim.
2019 first round pick Brett Baty projects to be a power left handed bat, and Brodie took two right handed pitchers with their second and third rounders. Drafts are crapshoots, and really anything after round one is a lot of guessing, but Brodie recognized that moving an OF prospect meant drafting the best OF prospect available, and losing Zach Wheeler meant there is room down the road for starting righthanders. While none of these players put up eye popping numbers in the low minors, they’re all 18, and we all know how inconsistent and unpredictable an 18 year old can be.
In 2020 Van Waganen outdid himself in a very shortened Corona draft. The Mets took Pete Crow-Armstrong with their first round pick. PCA has been a touted player since he was 12, and has legendary defensive prowess. Hitting .500 in a shortened season as a senior doesn’t exactly hurt, either. BVW has stocked up on outfield prospects in two years, using two first round picks on the position and the pick he received for NOT giving Zach Wheeler $100,000,000. He also took former Dodgers first round pick J.T. Ginn in round two. The only reason Ginn was available was that he blew his arm out in college and needed Tommy John surgery, but was a power pitcher in the mold of Matt Harvey before his injury. Well, that, and he wanted a big fat signing bonus. Ginn will be in the majors soon, so Brodie sort of punted the rest of the draft in order to have pool money to sign Ginn. Although I would not sleep on Eric Orze, who beat cancer twice to pursue his dream to pitch in the major leagues. Good luck, bro.
Brodie’s drafting has been aggressive. We won’t see results for years, and its stupid to think you can win a draft, but at least there is a philosophy behind his choosing, and while his moves are somewhat bold, they are also calculated.
Brodie Van Waganen has been a GM for two years, with handcuffs on known as a Wilpon budget. That a New York team spends money more like a Pittsburgh team than a Los Angeles or New York team is absurd and embarrassing. I do hope that whomever wins the Mets lottery and owns the team gives Brodie a chance to swing big at building a roster to his own vision. Maybe a signing of Mookie Betts, J.T. Reamuto, and whatever star pitcher is available? And trading some pieces that are redundant and cheap to acquire another top pitcher? That’s a dream that can’t happen with Wilpons in charge. Year two Brodie convinced me that he deserves a shot to be a real GM. Let’s hope the next owner agrees.
Earlier today, I took a look at the 2020 season preview for the New York Yankees. If you go across the WhiteStone or Throgs Neck Bridge, in the bureau called Queens, you will find New York’s “other” team.
2019: 86-76, 3rd place in NL East (11 GB)
Five questions for the 2020 New York Mets
Will the real Edwin Diaz please stand up…and carry the bullpen with him?
If one were to predict the worst possible scenario for Edwin Diaz in 2019, I don’t know if Stephen King could write a more fiendish outcome. Despite his awful 2019 season, Diaz still possesses nasty stuff, and the Mets are counting an immense rebound season. With COVID providing a lengthy delay and shorter season, a poor performance from Diaz will be equally devastating in 2020.
Edwin Diaz – MLB Career in Save Situations
K per 9
The Mets bullpen singlehandedly cost them the postseason in 2019. They lost 37 games in which they either led or tied after seven innings. Their save percentage of 58 was the eighth-worst in MLB, while their 4.95 ERA was the sixth-worst.
The Mets are counting on bounce-back seasons for Diaz, Jeurys Familia (5.70 ERA, 1.73 WHIP), and free-agent signee Dellin Betances (pitched in 2/3 inning in 2019). All three are healthy, including Betances who benefited from the extra time due to COVID.
End of mishaps with marquis players
Following consecutive postseason appearances in 2015-16, the Mets fortunes concerning their elite players have been less than fortunate.
-David Wright’s retirement
-Yoenis Cespedes playing in just 119 games since signing his 4-year, $110M contract.
– Former ace Matt Harvey wins five of his final 22 starts before being traded
Fans of the Mets usually expect “the other shoe” to drop at some point during the season. Will this be the year they will avoid any unfortunate disaster to a team leader.
David Wright – Season Averages
Can they replace Noah Syndergaard in the rotation?
When Thor made his debut in 2015, he loomed large over opponents, and Mets brass expected a dominant starter to preside besides Jacob deGrom, Stephen Matz, and Zack Wheeler (now with Phillies).
While the X-Men’s career number of 47–30, 3.31 ERA and 1.16 WHIP are certainly nothing to sneeze at, they lack the punch of someone with his stuff.
A major complaint is the big right-hander’s inability to go deep into ball games, as only 20 of his 118 starts have seen him take the mound in the eighth inning. However, Syndergaard’s career OPS (.616) & WHIP (1.07) are lower from innings 7–9 than the first six.
While many were anticipating a strong season from Thor, on March 24, the Mets announced he would miss the 2020 season to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite underachieving the last few seasons, Thor’s replacement needs to succeed.
Will Pete Alonso suffer a sophomore slump?
The Tampa, Florida native set an MLB rookie record with 53 HR in 2019. Alonso joined Jacob deGrom Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, and Jon Matlack to win Rookie of the Year.
Along with setting team records for HR, total bases, and XBH, Alonso joined Ted Williams and Albert Pujols as the only rookies in MLB history to reach 100 runs, RBI, and 30 HR in a single-season.
Rookies with 30 HR, 100 Runs & 100 RBI
Single-Seaon, MLB History
Will Jacob deGrom continue his dominance?
In 2019 deGrom became 4th NL pitcher to repeat despite posting just 21 combined wins over the last two seasons. Can he become the first pitcher since Randy Johnson from 1999-2002 to win three straight? (or he could become the first-ever to win fewer than ten games!)
Synopsis: 2nd place (33-27) – Will reach the postseason as Wild-Card.
While the Nationals are the defending champs, the Mets defeated then 12 times in 2019, which included blowing a six-run, ninth-inning lead.
The Mets’ chief nemesis is the Braves, who should still have enough talent and pitching to rule the NL East. The Mets are just 14-24 against Atlanta over the last two seasons.