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Showing posts from October, 2020

A Hero Is Not Required

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As we get closer and closer to Steve Cohen taking over the New York Mets, we also get closer to finally getting concrete answers on how the Mets might operate under his stewardship. Those of us who follow the team closely grew to be able to predict quite accurately how things would go when the Wilpons were running things. Hell, I only wish they would have surprised me a little more often. I always expected the worst from them and they almost always delivered. Cohen, on the other hand, is an unknown at this point. There is plenty of speculation on what he might do, based on what is known about how he runs his hedge fund business, but nobody will really know exactly how things will go until we get to see the Cohen owned Mets in action.
In a way, that's pretty convenient for projecting your own feelings of how the Mets should be run onto all of that unknown. Hey, it would be really smart if the Mets did this thing. Cohen is a really smart guy, so I'm sure they will do that thing o…

Who Needs a Day Off?

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I haven't enjoyed all of the changes the 2020 season brought to baseball. I hated the extra inning rule. No matter what the sport, I'm never a fan of deciding a result in any other way than continuing to play the game until a team breaks a tie. Shootouts in hockey and soccer, putting a runner on second in baseball and all other gimmicks of that nature should never be seen at any level above youth sports, at least in my opinion. Seven inning games in double headers seemed like a necessary evil for this season, but I hope not to see this in future "normal" seasons. I'm more agnostic on the DH in the NL. I'll miss some of the strategy involved with pitchers hitting, but I won't miss watching those pathetic at bats that most of them had. I believe the rules needs to be the same in both leagues, and it seems quite unlikely that the AL would ever abandon the DH, so if I had a vote that mattered it would be to keep the DH in the National League, too.One change t…

Free Agent Questions

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It's a pretty good bet that catcher J.T. Realmuto is a likely free agent target for the Mets this winter. We don't know exactly what the Mets priorities will be once Steve Cohen is officially approved to be the new owner, but putting a better club on the field next season would almost certainly be a priority. As a catcher and a right-handed bat, Realmuto would be a significant upgrade for this team. He'll be 30 next season, so it's likely he begins his next contract at the tail end of his prime years and he'll be more than a bit past that prime by the end. Of course, that's the reality with most free agents due to the length of time it takes them to achieve free agency. Except for the ones that come up to the majors very young, most players will be somewhere around 30 by the time they get to test the market.It's been a long time since the Mets were real players for the top free agents, but it's likely that they'll be competing for those that fill sp…

Lessons From the Tampa Bay Rays

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In The Athletic Monday, Jayson Stark had a piece on the unusual success of the Tampa Bay Rays this season. The Rays manage to field a remarkably competitive team year in and year out, despite having a budget that makes Fred Wilpon look like a profligate spender in comparison. Most people who follow baseball fairly closely are aware of the way Tampa Bay operates. Despite incredible budget constraints they manage to compete most years. Since 2008, they have managed to finish with a winning record 9 times out of 13 seasons. Two of the years they fell short they went 80-82. Their only awful season in the stretch was 2016, when they finished last in the AL East with a 68-94 record.
As much as it pains me to write this, let's contrast with the Mets in that same period. They had the reverse results, posting a winning record in only 4 of those seasons. They lost more than 90 games twice, and lost 88 games another 2 times. There never was much of a coherent strategy during these years. When…

The Keys to the City

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After I had written my last post on the type of organizational changes the Mets could make to ensure sustained success, I took a few moments to think about the one time in my life that really happened. My first year as a Mets fan was 1969. I was 10 years old, and it seemed to me quite likely that my team would go back to the World Series every year. After all, we had Seaver and Koosman, and all the other teams didn't. Although the Mets managed to sneak back into the Series four years later, my youthful optimism definitely took a beating in the 1970s. Despite continuing to have Seaver and Koosman and eventually Jon Matlack, the only time the Mets managed to win their division between 1969 and 1986 was the "Ya Gotta Believe" season of 1973, when the futility of the rest of the NL East allowed the Mets to grab that honor despite a quite mediocre 82-79 record. Other than that bit of luck, the Mets wouldn't finish above third place until 1984, and usually brought up the r…

Here's to a Stronger Infrastructure

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Tim Britton had a really interesting piece in The Athletic earlier this week titled, "Why Steve Cohen’s first major investment should be in the Mets' infrastructure." It's a really good take on a topic that we've discussed in this space. So much that has been written about how the effect that Steve Cohen taking over might have on the Mets payroll and which free agents the Mets might sign this winter. The idea that Cohen would make the Mets operate a lot smarter seems to me of much more importance going forward, and Britton's piece is the best one on that subject that I've come across so far.Now don't get me wrong here. I'm also excited about the prospect of the Mets running larger payrolls, not only because it makes them players for top free agents like J.T. Realmuto, but because it makes them more likely to hold onto young players that come up through their organization. I thought one of the more unforgivable moves of the Wilpon era was letting Z…

Should He Stay or Should He Go?

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Since the end of the season, I've spent a lot of time pondering what it would take for the Mets to be a serious contender - not just to possibly squeak into the playoffs but legitimately contend for a title. When the Mets made it all of the way to the World Series in 2015, it was on the back of a terrific starting rotation. Those days are long gone. This year the Mets starters went 13-22 with a 5.37 ERA. Forget about trying to recapture the dominance of 2015, the Mets are going to need to regain competence and adequacy from their starting pitching in order to contend again.
The Mets have a lot of work to do to fix what's wrong with them. It's assumed that they will be very aggressive in the free agent market this offseason, although we don't know that for sure until we see how things play out. Even assuming that they are, I don't think we're going to see a fully-formed championship caliber Mets team take the field in 2021. They can certainly be good enough to ma…

Where Did We Go Wrong?

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In The Athletic this week, Tim Britton had a very good look into what went wrong with the Mets this season. The obvious starting point was the rotation, which was pretty much a bad bet on the days deGrom wasn't pitching. David Peterson was fairly impressive in a 9-start audition for 2021. Seth Lugo was more miss than hit in 7 starts, winding up with an ERA over 6 as a starter. Everyone else was just plain awful. Neither Rick Porcello or Michael Wacha proved to be any help. Steven Matz has gone from looking like a really solid pitcher just a few years ago to a non-tender candidate this offseason. The promise that Robert Gsellman seemed to offer as a 22-year-old in 2016 has evaporated. As Britton pointed out, the 2020 Mets had the worst starting rotation ERA in the history of the team. That's quite an accomplishment for Brodie Van Wagenen to put on his resume.Surviving their poor starting pitching might have been possible if the bullpen was great, but that certainly wasn't t…

Playoff Cash Shouldn't Disincentivize Greatness

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I checked out some of the postseason contests this week, but I didn't watch any full games. I'd watch for a couple of innings and then I'll turn on something different. It's hard for me to really get into it, it's just a reminder of how low the bar was set for qualifying this season and how, once again, the Mets failed to clear it. Here's hoping that this almost yearly ritual is coming to an end with the departure of the Wilpons.I understand how badly MLB coveted postseason dollars this year, but the 16 team playoffs seems pretty silly to me. There was a time when only a single team from each league advanced as the postseason consisted of only the World Series. Then in 1969, just in time for the Miracle Mets, each League split into two divisions, creating 2 extra postseason participants. Baseball split each League into 3 divisions and added a Wildcard team in 1995 after the strike. In 2012 the second Wildcard team was added.With every one of these changes, the …