30 Clubs in 30 Days: New York Mets

So a couple stories I want to bring to light here. First off, former LSU runningback and potential first round pick Derrius Guice was asked by an unknown NFL team during his Combine interview a couple of very inappropriate questions, which Guice claims was to provoke him and get a feel for his response. The anonymous team asked Guice if he was gay and if his mom was a hooker. I can understand the reasoning behind asking these questions, as you’re trying to gauge how this guy’s going to deal with the media, but you have to use better judgment here. Asking if someone is gay is totally inappropriate and asking someone if their mother is a hooker is downright disrespectful. They should’ve learned when the Dolphins did that to Dez Bryant in his Combine interview. I remember I was in Canton, Ohio to see the Pro Football Hall of Fame with my mom and she went for a walk outside of our hotel. When she got back, she told me that some guy had driven up to her and asked if she was “working.” I’m not a confrontational person, but I was ready to throw haymakers at this dude that I’d never met so kudos to Guice for keeping his cool. Also, the Kansas City Royals held an anti-porn seminar for the players and coaches, most likely to protect the wrists on their throwing hands when they’re away from their wives because athletes definitely stay faithful to their wives on road trips. That’s really all I have to say on that because otherwise I can’t see any reason to be against something that brings people so much joy. Also, the Rams acquired another corner in a trade, this time landing Aqib Talib from the Broncos. So basically with Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib the Rams may have the shit talking-est cornerback duo in NFL history. Anyways, on to the Mets for this edition of 30 Clubs in 30 Days.

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2017 Results:

Record: 70-92, 27 games behind Washington Nationals, 17 games behind Colorado Rockies for 2nd Wild Card spot

Notable Offseason Additions: RF Jay Bruce, 3B Todd Frazier, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, RP Anthony Swarzak, OF Matthew den Dekker

Notable Offseason Subtractions: RP Erik Goeddel, SP Tommy Milone, RP Josh Edgin

Best Offensive Player: LF Yoenis Cespedes

Best Pitcher: Noah Syndergaard

Depth Chart:

C-Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki

1B-Adrian Gonzalez, Dominic Smith

2B-Asdrubal Cabrera

3B-Todd Frazier, Wilmer Flores, David Wright

SS-Amed Rosario, Jose Reyes

LF-Yoenis Cespedes

CF-Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares

RF-Jay Bruce

SP-Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jason Vargas, Robert Gsellman, Zach Wheeler, Seth Lugo

Bullpen-Jeurys Familia (CP), Jeremy Blevins, AJ Ramos, Anthony Swarzak, Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, Rafael Montero

Coaching Staff:

Manager-Mickey Callaway (1st season with Mets

Hitting Coach-Pat Roessler

Pitching Coach-Dave Eiland

1st Base Coach-Ruben Amaro Jr

3rd Base Coach-Glenn Sherlock

Bench Coach-Gary DiSarcina

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It feels like so long ago that the Mets were good even though they just had one bad season. They won the NL pennant in 2015, losing the World Series in 5 games to the Royals, and they lost the NL Wild Card game against the Giants in 2016. But in 2017 the wheels seemed to fall off, causing the Mets machine to fall off the wheels, crash and burn, and kill everybody inside as injuries ravaged the team. But when healthy, this has the potential to be a scary team. Here’s how I’m projecting their lineup to look in 2018.

1. Asdrubal Cabrera-2B

2. Michael Conforto-CF

3. Yoenis Cespedes-LF

4. Jay Bruce-RF

5. Todd Frazier-3B

6. Adrian Gonzalez-1B

7. Travis d’Arnaud-C

8. Amed Rosario-SS

9. Pitcher’s Spot

There’s a lot of talent in this lineup, particularly in the middle of the order. Michael Conforto broke out in 2017, earning an All Star nod by hitting .279 with 27 home runs and was worth 4.4 WAR. He will likely miss the start of the season due to injury (shocker) and it will probably be defensive wizard Juan Lagares in centerfield. Yoenis Cespedes is a guy I really liked but he didn’t seem to hit his stride until he was traded to the Mets, as his bat was what really propelled them to the 2015 NL pennant. Come to think of it, good things tend to happen to teams involved in a Cespedes trade. The A’s landed Jon Lester from the Red Sox, the Red Sox landed Rick Porcello from the Tigers, and the Tigers landed Michael Fulmer from the Mets. Go figure. But despite missing half the 2017 season due to injury, Cespedes was on pace for an MVP-caliber season. He was hitting .292 with 17 home runs and 42 RBI, which in a full 162-game season would be 34 home runs and 84 RBI. Jay Bruce is returning to the Mets after they traded him to the Indians at last year’s trade deadline. Bruce was terrific for the Mets, hitting 29 home runs and driving in 75 RBI in just 103 games with the club. Frazier and Gonzalez both struggled last season but they both have powerful bats and can cause some serious damage to a pitching staff if taken lightly.

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The Mets may have the single most injury-prone pitching rotation I’ve ever seen. It seems like within the last two seasons every member of their 4-headed monster of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz all have missed significant time due to injury, the latter two’s effectiveness having been harmed the most. While Syndergaard looks like he’s fully recovered from the lat injury that sidelined him for nearly all of 2017 (his fastball was touching 101 mph in his first Spring Training outing), the rest of the rotation isn’t so sure. DeGrom was solid last season, going 15-10 with a 3.53 ERA and striking out over 10 batters per 9 innings, but Harvey and Matz left a lot to be desired. Matz had an ERA over 6 in 13 starts while Harvey was better known for having not shown up to a game due to being hung over after drinking his sorrows away after seeing his ex girlfriend, supermodel Adriana Lima, hanging around with Julian Edelman. So the only guys I’m not concerned with are Syndergaard and deGrom but Matz and Harvey make me nervous. Again, assuming everybody’s healthy.

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The Mets bullpen has some guys with really electric stuff. In fact, the only regular member of last year’s bullpen with a K/9 rate below 8 was Josh Edgin and he’s now a member of the Baltimore Orioles. The closer for the Mets is Jeurys Familia, however he’s also coming off an injury-plagued season, as he only managed to pitch 24.2 innings in 2017. However when healthy, he’s amongst the best closers in the game. Should he struggle to return to health, though, the Mets have AJ Ramos, whom they acquired from the Marlins last trade deadline. Ramos was an All Star as the Marlins’ closer in 2016, though he struggled with his command upon joining the Mets. He struck out over 11 batters per 9 innings but also walked over 5 batters per 9. He’s going to need to drop that second number significantly if he hopes to earn new manager and pitching guru Mickey Callaway’s trust. Newly-acquired reliever Anthony Swarzak was a revelation last season with the White Sox and Brewers last season, pitching to an ERA of 2.33 with over 10.5 K/9 in his age-31 season. Whether he repeats that success remains to be seen but if last season was any indicator, the Mets have themselves a reliable 8th-inning option.

Overall, I don’t think the Mets are nearly as bad as last season’s record might indicate but they NEED to limit the injuries if they’re going to have any hope of competing for the playoffs. When fully healthy, I think this team is good enough to compete with the Nationals for the NL East crown. However that seems to be asking a lot out of them as of late and I’m not so sure they’re going to be able to overcome these shortcomings this season. However the NL East is pretty weak right now so I don’t think it’ll be too hard for the Mets to come in second place in the division, in fact I do think they’ll be healthy enough to compete for a Wild Card spot, though I think they will fall short.

Projected Finish: 84-78, 2nd in NL East

That’s going to do it for this edition of 30 Clubs in 30 Days. I feel like I wrote this blog twice (that’s because I did. I was halfway through my first edition when my computer freaked out on me and I lost my entire draft. Though to be honest, I feel like this version is way better than the one that got deleted). Join me tomorrow when I preview the New York Yankees, who on paper have the most dangerous 3-4 combo since Ruth-Gehrig. Let me know what you think of the Mets’ chances in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10. Also, if you’re looking for something to do at 3 PM as you get ready for Spring Break (or continue partying during Spring Break), I’ll be on the call for a college baseball game between Indiana and Pacific on BTN Plus.

A Look At the Managerial Hunts in MLB

So we’ve had five managers lose their jobs since the start of their team’s offseason: Terry Collins with the Mets, Pete Mackanin with the Phillies, John Farrell with the Red Sox, Brad Ausmus with the Tigers, and most recently, Dusty Baker with the Nationals. The Nationals and Phillies positions have yet to be filled and I will briefly discuss their situations. As for the other three teams, the Mets have hired away former Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway, the Tigers have hired Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire, and the Red Sox will make their hiring of Astros bench coach Alex Cora official after the Astros finish the World Series. I talked in the John Farrell article that I linked above about what I think of Ron Gardenhire so I won’t go into too much depth about his hiring with the Tigers. So let’s look over the managerial hires.

Mickey Callaway to the Mets:

This was long overdue. Callaway is, or was, in my opinion the best pitching coach in baseball and now you give him an extremely talented group of starting pitchers that underachieved last season as a whole. It just makes too much sense for the Mets to hire Callaway. He had great success, particularly over the last two or three seasons as the Indians pitching coach. I think he did a great job getting the most he can out of Trevor Bauer, who is a really talented pitcher but can’t seem to get out of his own way. He also did a good job with Josh Tomlin, who would give up bomb after bomb but then when the Indians needed a big game out of him, like in the 2016 postseason, he stepped up and delivered. For the Mets, Noah Syndergaard missed almost the entire season due to a lat issue while Matt Harvey has pretty much disappeared into oblivion and Steven Matz refuses to take the next step. Jacob deGrom was the only member of that super rotation whom I felt had a strong season and even then his numbers were low-end number 2 starter high-end number 3 (3.53 ERA). Callaway is going to be a huge addition to getting this Mets team back into relevance because this is the most talented pitching staff he’s ever had to work with, and that’s really saying something considering the talent he had on that Indians staff.

Ron Gardenhire to the Tigers:

I like Gardenhire a lot, he did a great job with the Twins from 2002-2014 especially considering they never had much of a payroll to work with. The Tigers had one of the highest payrolls in baseball before things went south and they gutted the team. I don’t know if there will be immediate success with Gardenhire in Detroit, but I am confident that he will set the Tigers back on the right track in short time.

Alex Cora to the Red Sox

Alex Cora is a guy I’ve heard a lot of hype surrounding his potential managerial career even while he was still playing. There was a point in the 2007 season where rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia was struggling and Cora, seeing how much talent Pedroia had, worked with him to get better even though it would likely cost Cora his shot at a starting job at second base, which it did. Pedroia, with Cora’s help, went on to win the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year and helped lead Boston to the 2007 World Series championship and he followed that up with the 2008 AL MVP, the first by a second baseman in over 50 years. Basically every single Red Sox hitter took a big step back last season, most notably Xander Bogaerts and Cora seems like the right guy to get these guys back on track to the potent offense they can be.

The Nationals Job

The Nationals got ousted in Game 5 of the 2017 NLDS and it proved to be Dusty Baker’s last game as manager of the Nationals despite easily winning the NL East with a 97-65 record. This has to be a very desirable job in the short term, long term we will have to wait and see. The short term is that this is a LOADED roster, with All Star potential all over the pitching rotation and up and down the lineup. The problem may revolve around Bryce Harper, the Nats superstar outfielder. He is set to hit free agency after the conclusion of the 2018 season and the Nats aren’t expected to be able to retain him. They shelled out a big contract to Stephen Strasburg last year and with the current salaries on payroll, there won’t be the cap space to give Bryce Harper the $300M contract he would likely be able to get. If I’m GM Mike Rizzo, I want to be in win-right-the-fuck-now mode. Bryce Harper’s going to be gone soon and there may be a Phillies-esque contract situation where you may have given out too many huge contracts that it weights your team down when the guys’ skills start to deteriorate. Hell, Max Scherzer signed a 7-year $210M deal, but they’re going to spread the payments out over 14 years. So for 7 years after Scherzer’s contract is up, he will be making $15M a year to not play for the Nationals. Great for Scherzer, awful for the future Nats. You want to at least be like Ruben Amaro Jr and be able to hang your hat on that one World Series title you got when you need to find your next job. For Amaro, that job was first base coach of the Boston Red Sox. But Rizzo has yet to have that manager that gets them over the top. So who fits the bill? Certainly not Brad Ausmus, he had loads of talent in Detroit and couldn’t do better than a 90 win season and a quick playoff exit. The other top candidates that I listed above are all gone. Gene Lamont doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in Detroit. One name I would keep an eye on for these Nats is their current pitching coach Mike Maddux. Maddux’s name was thrown all over the place as a potential managerial candidate when he was pitching coach of the Texas Rangers when they went to back-to-back World Series’ from 2010-11. Those talks never gained much traction and he has yet to get a real gig. The team won 97 games this year so I think an in-house hire might be a good idea in this situation because you want to keep up that regular season success. You just need a guy that can get you over the top. Maddux has potential, but he’s not a sure thing like what Joe Maddon was when he left the Rays and joined the Cubs. It’ll be risky because there has to be some sort of reason why Maddux never got a managerial job, but I think he would be the safest choice for Washington.

The Phillies Job

This has to be one of the most undesirable jobs in baseball. The Phillies are sorely lacking in the talent department and have been for quite some time. They are finally rid of Ryan Howard’s enormous contract and can at long last make some plays for some free agents. The problem will be convincing guys to come play for Philly. First of all, I know this is a little unfair but their reputation precedes them, is finding a guy who can deal with the fans. Philly fans are notorious for being ruthless when things aren’t going well and even when they are, they still find something to boo. That’s probably overgeneralizing, but the fact of the matter is these fans have been starved for good baseball for over 5 years now and those dominant teams of the late-2000’s seems like a long lost memory. I felt that Pete Mackanin got as much out of the lack of talent that the team had as he could, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The Phillies went 66-96 in 2017, second worst record in the NL and they need to find a guy they can trust for the long haul to be part of a rebuild. Philly sports has been known for “Trust the Process” as the 76ers and Joel Embiid have made so popular, and it’s high time the Phillies showed some semblance of a process. They don’t appear to have any direction. Personally, if I’m Team President Andy McPhail, I would clean house and start from scratch. I’d trade every asset I have for top prospects and find a GM with a fresh take on how the organization should be run. That’s basically what the Astros did a few years ago and look at them now. The Phillies really don’t have much going for them and if you’re going to suck, you might as well build towards the future. But who should be the manager for this team? Well the Phillies are amazingly in week 4 of their search, which is bonkers to me. If you’re going to let a manager go, you’ve got to have some sort of succession plan. Hell, Dave Dombrowski was considering his options for next Red Sox manager during the ALDS when Farrell still held the damn job! One guy I think would be perfect for this job is Gabe Kapler. I may be biased because he was a beloved member of the Red Sox teams from my youth, but this guy was neck and neck with Dave Roberts for the Dodgers job a couple years ago. If an organization like the Dodgers is seriously considering you as comparable to as good a manager as Roberts, there’s got to be something to it. I don’t know a whole lot about Kapler’s abilities as an in-game manager, but I do know that he is a likable guy who really helps tie a clubhouse together. He’s currently the director of player development with the Dodgers and you’ve seen what kinds of rookies they’ve turned out over the last couple years as well as some of the breakout seasons they’ve had (ie: Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor). If a guy does that well with developing young talent, then he would be the perfect candidate to lead a rebuild.

Those are my thoughts on the current managerial situations around baseball. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.