Reese Kaplan -- Rainy Day Ruminations


Rainouts have a way of making a person become analytical and introspective since there are fastballs making a resounding “Thwap!” in the glove, nor are there any balls clearing the walls, nor are there any diving stops, bases stolen nor runners trying to avoid getting gunned down at the plate.  In this frame of reference, I started pondering some of the questions facing the Mets this young season (and some of the chosen answers). 

Image result for rainout baseball

Is Adrian Gonzalez a net positive or negative for the team?  His glove is for real and his clubhouse presence is far more positive than had been projected.  He’d been a distraction according to former teammates and management personnel, but thus far that aspect of his place on the roster is surprisingly good.  The bat, however, was heavily suspect both off last season’s injury-riddled year and a very weak spring.  He started off well for the first week plus, but quickly has become fairly useless.  He’s batting a mere .239 but has hit 2 HRs and driven in 11.  All told, I suspect it’s his job to lose until at least the All-Star break. 

After all, they’re willing to tolerate the much more expensive pair of corner outfielders – Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes – who are contributing even less.  Now Jay Bruce does have the excuse of the plantar fasciitis issue which has been making it uncomfortable for Bruce to stand, let alone play baseball at a professional level.  To date he’s logged a paltry .194 with just 1 HR and 8 RBIs.  Considering how well both Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo have been playing there’s no reason to keep him in the lineup.  In fact, you could make a case he should be strictly resting on the DL until the condition gets under control.  We’d hoped we’d seen the last of the previous regime’s mismanagement of injuries and propensity to play short-handed.

Cespedes is the bigger puzzle.  His RBI production has been solid – 18 to lead the team and tied for third in the league.  He’s also tied for the team lead in HRs with 4.  However, then it gets concerning.  He’s hitting under .200 and threatening to approach 200 strikeouts on the year.  We’ve watched him dominate before so it’s unlikely a long-term concern.  However,  right now you have to question what it’s going to take to get him right again.

Michael Conforto came back much sooner than anyone could have imagined given the Mets’ dismal luck with injuries but now people are wondering if he was rushed.  The 2017 All-Star is hitting just .213 with 1 HR and 5 RBIs.  He’s providing a .387 OBP, trailing only starters Asdrubal Cabrera and Todd Frazier. 

Finally, let’s take a moment to celebrate the backup outfielders – Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo.  Lagares is hitting .379 and playing his usual highlight reel defense.  Nimmo is hitting .333 and sporting an otherworldly OBP of .533.  Given the struggles of Bruce, Cespedes and Conforto, it shouldn’t hurt the club to insert either of these two into the lineup more often. 

Let’s not talk about the catching situation.  It’s too depressing right now.  The only hope is that Sandy Alderson is actually attempting to address the issue and isn’t simply planning on treading water (or hanging onto a life preserver while sharks circle) until the still-unproven Kevin Plawecki returns.

On the positive sides of the ledger are the quick starts of both Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera.  No one could have predicted Frazier would be at .258.  While that doesn’t sound like much, the lower end of the .200s has been the norm lately for the flashy fielding slugger.

Asdrubal Cabrera, however, came from completely out of left field.  He’s 2nd in the league in batting (behind the even more surprising Atlanta Brave John Flaherty), tied with Cespedes with 4 HRs and has not proven to be a distraction at all after his 2017 demands and antics.  For what he’s being paid, he’s looking to be an early season super bargain. 

Amed Rosario is having some growing pains and is showing that he’s still struggling to make the adjustment to the major leagues.  He’s shown some great athleticism in the field, but he’s hitting just .250, hasn’t hit a homer and, more surprisingly, hasn’t stolen a base.  When Mickey Callaway inexplicably started Jose Reyes at shortstop in Saturday’s game after having gone hitless on the whole season and was shockingly rewarded with a three-hit performance, that’s got to put even more pressure on the youngster who already may be pressing. 

On the pitching side of the ledger, you know what you have with Jacob deGrom and with Noah Syndergaard.  Steve Matz has shown flashes of brilliance (including retiring 10 straight hitters after a shaky first in his last start).  Opposing hitters are struggling to just a .203 batting average against him.  If he can stay healthy then he’s likely going to be a quality starter.  Somewhat shockingly, Zack Wheeler is doing even better with a 2.77 ERA and a .196 BAA.  That spelled bad news for Matt Harvey who Callaway has temporarily banished to the bullpen.  Jason Vargas slots into the rotation and likely still unused Corey Oswalt heading back to Las Vegas to make room for him on the roster.

Where there is some concern is with their most expensive reliever, AJ Ramos.  He has been in the midst of the two recent bullpen implosions that victimized deGrom and the Mets.  On the surface it doesn’t look too bad with a 4.00 ERA and a .071 batting average against.  However, when you peruse the other columns you see some disturbing numbers.  In just 9 IP he’s already walked 9 batters while striking out 8.  Obviously putting on a free baserunner per inning is a recipe for disaster (as Mets fans have seen). 

Jeurys Familia has been mostly good Saturday night notwithstanding.  In 12 IP he’s struck out 15, held batters well under .200 and has a 1.50 ERA to go along with 8 saves.  Unfortunately he’s also walking too many, 6 so far or 4.5 per 9 IP.  That is a similar formula to what’s been plaguing Ramos.

Where they have had some very pleasant surprises are with the starters-turned-relievers – Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo – as well as unheralded Paul Sewald.  While they’re hitting Lugo a little bit more at .237, he’s still 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA.  Gsellman has been even better with a 2-0 record, a .196 BAA and a 2.19 ERA.  Unlike the would-be closers, he’s enjoying a more than 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio.  Sewald has only pitched 8.1 innings yet has 12 Ks to just a single walk.  His BAA is just .148 and he sports a 2.16 ERA.

Perhaps most surprising are the struggles of Jerry Blevins.  He’s been pretty much automatic ever since joining the ballclub but he has a very ugly 12.27 ERA in his 3.2 IP as a situational LOOGY.  He’s walked 4 and struck out 3 while allowing opposing hitters to tee off to the tune of .375. 

Thus far most of what Mickey Callaway has done has been met with great admiration and appreciation but perhaps nothing more so than the culture of accountability.  The recent announcement of Matt Harvey being bumped from the rotation sends a very positive message to the team – produce and you play, don’t produce and we will find someone who can.  That’s a refreshing change from the last regime’s policy of stubbornly staying the course no matter what.  The contrasting results in the won-lost column prove it.  


Hobie said...

I've said it before, but for all the criticism of SA for his signings and non-signings, the one that stands out to me is the non-signing of Addison Reed. By far.

Thomas Brennan said...

We're 14-6 - and it feels lousy, and like mediocrity is around the corner.

Yanks are 12-9, but it feels like "when do they start scoring 7 runs per game, and taking off?"

Ramos seems to walk way too many by trying to make hitters fish - just 250 hits but a very high 194 walks in 355 career innings - walk less for the Mets, or walk away, please. Bullpen guys who walk guys like Doug Sisk suck.

Hobie is right.

Mack Ade said...

Morning Reese -

Pouring here in South Carolina... goes up the NE corridor.

My observations since the weekend...

1. Yesterday's rain out gives one additional day's rest for the pen. Good.

2. The combination of Gsellman, Lugo, and Harvey in the pen could redefine it.

3. Varges throws his first rehab game tonight, in St. Lucie. Can not come quick enough.

4. I do not have any excuse for Blevins. I would rest him for a couple of days and let him work on his stuff before each game.

5. The lack of Mets productively comes straight out of the meat of our lineup. Conforto: .213... Cespedes: .195... Bruce: .194... These are the guys that are suppose to be winning the games for us. They are not.

6. We will need a fifth starter on Saturday. I would give Oswalt a spot start if Vargas is not ready.

7. The Mets are still in first place and have the third best record in the LEAGUE. No reason for Panic City.

Reese Kaplan said...

Someone should put pictures of John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley in Harvey's locker.

Thomas Brennan said...

Reese, put a picture of Mariano Rivera in his locker too - Rivera started briefly before his reliever days. He did OK.

Mack, I agree with Hobie - not signing Addison Reed if we could have was high stakes gambling - we sure could use him now.

If Bruce has plantar fasciitis, why is he not on DL? Ten days off could do wonders, and with Sunday's rainout, 2 of those 10 days (Sunday and Monday) are already days off.

If Cespedes wants to get his strikeouts down and average up, he needs to be aggressive on first pitch strikes.

Mike Freire said...

I know this will reek of revisionist history, but I was not a fan of the jay Bruce signing. It is not JB specifically, but the fit in the lineup. I would have given RF to Conforto and platooned Nimmo and Lagares in CF, along with YC in LF.

It seemed like overkill at a position that was solid on paper.

His slow start and foot issues are only making this look worse, IMO.

Mack Ade said...

Sadly an injury like Bruce has plays havoc on a 30+ body.

Probably will turn out to be a bad sign.

Mack's Mets © 2012