New York Mets: McNeil Stays Red Hot in Loss to Marlins

Tuesday’s matchup between the New York Mets and Miami Marlins featured Noah Syndergaard‘s second Spring start. It was not as dominant as his first, and the three early runs he allowed were too much for the Mets to make up.

In the first inning, Syndergaard retired the first two with ease before allowing a homer to Garrett Cooper. The second inning also led to some two-out magic for the Marlins. A hit by pitch and fielder’s choice moved Harold Ramirez to second base, and Chad Wallach knocked him for the Marlins second run. An ill-advised throw from Amed Rosario on a fielder’s choice allowed Lewis Brinson to score for the third run.

Syndergaard put together a 1-2-3 third inning to complete his outing on a high note. Overall, he threw three innings, allowed three runs (two earned), two hits while striking out five. One of the positives for Syndergaard is the five strikeouts to zero walks he produced.

McNeil Carries the Offense

The Mets have been dead last in runs through the early part of Spring Training, but none of that is Jeff McNeil‘s fault. The All-Star supplied two hits, including a leadoff home run. He is hitting .533, the highest mark in Spring Training. Andres Gimenez also continued to stay hot by supplying a double off the bench to move his average to .333 with a 1.010 OPS.

Brandon Nimmo is quietly hitting .357 after his 1-for-3 game today, but the rest of the lineup is in the dust. Robinson Cano is hitting .200, Pete Alonso is hitting .143, with a .333 OPS, and Amed Rosario still has not recorded an out yet. Thankfully there are multiple weeks left in Spring Training, so the pressure to right themselves is not high yet.

Bullpen Work

Robert Gsellman threw two innings, allowing one run after Syndergaard left. Jeurys Familia followed up with one strikeout over his inning of work. He still has not allowed a run in the Spring. Brad Brach and Paul Sewald also pitched scoreless innings. Despite allowing two runs, Adonis Uceta, struck out three batters in the ninth.

Marcus Stroman faces the St. Louis Cardinals once again for his third Spring start. He should be the first Met to get to the four-inning plateau in Spring Training.

 

deGrom and Wacha Shine in Split Squad Outings

The New York Mets starting pitching has been nothing short of elite through the first ten games of Spring Training. While the bats are still shaking the rust off, the pitching has exceeded expectations so far. In their split-squad games on Sunday, they beat the Nationals 3-1 and lost to the Marlins, 7-2.

Jacob deGrom picked up where he left off in 2019. The back to back Cy Young winner threw three scoreless innings, only allowing one hit and striking out two batters. He a majority of the Nationals everyday players and made it look easy to cruise through the lineup once.

Michael Wacha also pitched well against the Marlins. Over his three scoreless innings of work, he allowed a walk, two hits and struck out one. Wacha still firmly believes he is a starting pitcher, and his two Spring starts show he should be a starter.

Diaz Settles In

If you did not hear about Edwin Diaz’s outing, there were not any problems. He threw a scoreless fourth inning with the only blemish being a Ryan Zimmerman double. Justin Wilson followed by striking out the side in the fifth inning. He has retired all six batters he has faced, and four of them are on strikeouts.

Jeff McNeil continued to stay hot with two hits in the same amount of at-bats. His average is now .500 for the Spring. Michael Conforto homered for the first time and now has hits in three consecutive games after starting 1-for-8. Robinson Cano also added a two-run double to open up the Mets scoring in the first.

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

Pete Alonso lined a single to center field for his only hit in three at-bats. The concerns were only small for 2019’s home run champ, and the single took the stress off the Polar Bear. Eduardo Nunez has started the Spring hot, his two hits Sunday moved him to 5-for-15. Nunez was a non-roster invite but could easily steal a spot away from Luis Guillorme.

Amed Rosario continued his struggles at the plate. He went hitless in three at-bats and is hitless in all five of his games so far. Only two of the at-bats ended in strikeouts, which is a good sign for the young shortstop. As he settles in more, the hits should follow.

The Mets get a day off on Monday before welcoming in the Marlins to Port St. Lucie. Noah Syndergaard will make his second start of the Spring.

New York Mets Pick Up Second Win of Spring Against Cardinals

yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals squared off in their fourth matchup of the Spring. Marcus Stroman and Adam Wainwright squared off against each other, both looking to improve on their first Spring outings. The Mets also feature a lineup of mostly regulars and Tim Tebow.

Stroman pitched decently, allowing two hits, one run, one walk, and struck out one over two innings of work. He allowed a first innings home run to Paul Goldschmidt, but it would be the most damage he allowed. Stroman ran into trouble in the second.  A walk, bunt single, and Dominic Smith error led to a bases-loaded, no one-out jam. Stroman induced a lineout and a double play to end the jam and complete his outing.

Big Heart and a Big Paycheck

Brandon Nimmo returned to the lineup after a health scare which forced him to miss two games. He went 1-for-2 with a run scored and also mixed in a good call on a “sun ball double.” Robinson Cano made his Spring debut as the designated hitter. He walked and flew out to center field in his only two plate appearances.

Jeff McNeil, Dom Smith, and Wilson Ramos were the other regulars who tallied hits on Friday. McNeil and Ramos are hitting .400 and .444 in the Spring, respectively. Both are picking up from where they left off in 2019.

Andres Gimenez improved on his strong start at the plate. He blasted his first home run of the Spring and is 4-for-12 at the plate. Two of his four hits have gone for extra bases. It is a promising sign for the 161-pound shortstop who has been known more for his defense than offense. Should Gimenez continue to hit the ball well, it could make the choice to send him to minor league camp harder than expected.

Tebow Struggles

It is hard to write a Mets article without leaving out the blooper from Tebow. Not only did Tebow strikeout in both of his at-bats, but he also fell flat on his face trying to secure the final out of the ball game. Tebow looked to be under the ball but tripped over his feet, and the ball lightly plopped about a foot away from the quarterback once known as mobile.

On Saturday, the Mets head to West Palm Beach to face the Houston Astros at 1:05 p.m. Steven Matz makes his second start of the Spring as he tries to secure a spot in the Mets rotation.

 

New York Mets: Brandon Nimmo vs. Jeff McNeil in the Leadoff Spot

The New York Mets have one of their most dynamic lineups in years, but one of their biggest questions is on who the leadoff hitter will be. Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil both have been successful leadoff hitters, but both offer different approaches at the plate. Which one will be the best table-setter for the Mets?

Brandon Nimmo

Nimmo struggled in 2019 due to his neck injury. During 2018 he emerged as an everyday player hitting .263/.404/.483. Nimmo is the best the Mets have at getting on base and working into deep counts. Even in a down season, he still managed to put up a .375 on-base percentage.

He is not going to hit above .270 due to his approach. Nimmo will be good for over 100 strikeouts, but he will also be good for close to 100 walks as well. If Nimmo hits leadoff, McNeil will be the two-hitter, which makes an easy fix for where McNeil hits. Nimmo has a career .378 on-base out of the leadoff spot, but his highest is .430 out of the six spot.

Jeff McNeil

During Nimmo’s absence, McNeil took over the role as the Mets leadoff hitter. He slashed .320/.386/.521 out of the leadoff position and only struck out 60 times in the 93 he hit leadoff. McNeil’s added power to go along with his Tony Gwynn-like ability to find base hits making him an enticing option as the Mets leadoff hitter.

Should McNeil leadoff, Pete Alonso would likely hit second as he did in 2019. This would move Nimmo to the lower part of the order behind the power bats the Mets have. McNeil will likely play in more games than Nimmo, which should make him a more enticing leadoff option since he will play there every day.

Approach is Key

The Mets could not have two more polar opposite options. McNeil swings at the first pitch more than anyone on the roster, and Nimmo does his best work deep in the count. There is no wrong answer to the leadoff hitter. It will fall on Luis Rojas’s preference out of a leadoff hitter along with his plans for the rest of the lineup. The best part of this year’s Spring Training is that the Mets have options throughout their team, which they have not been able to say in a long time.

Projecting the New York Mets Everyday Lineup

The 2020 New York Mets starting lineup comes in with plenty of potential, but one of their biggest questions will be defense. Their lineup contains plenty of power as well, which should make up for the lack of speed it holds. Here is what it should look like come Opening Day.

Catcher: Wilson Ramos

Wilson Ramos is an undervalued catcher coming into Spring Training. He came off a strong year at the plate, hitting .288/.351/.416 with 14 home runs and 73 RBIs. Ramos defense is what held him back ranking in the bottom of most defensive metrics and only throwing out 15% of base stealers. Most of it was in part of the Mets inability to hold runners on, but the Mets should expect another strong year from the Buffalo.

First Base: Pete Alonso

There is nothing to say about Pete Alonso that everyone else has not said. He is coming off one of the best rookie seasons of all time and has emerged into a fan favorite. The home runs are likely to regress, but the real growth from Alonso will come in his walk and strikeout rates.

Second Base: Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano came in full of hype in his return to New York but struggled with injuries and his performance. Despite entering his age-37 season, his solid second half should give hope that he returns to All-Star form. Cano should keep his performance strong as he ages much like fellow Dominicans Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz.

Shortstop: Amed Rosario

Amed Rosario had a huge growth year in 2019. He set career highs in offensive stats across the board and improved defensively in the second half. Rosario’s walk rates and stealing ability still need to improve, but at age-24, he is trending in the right direction.

Third Base: Jeff McNeil

Jeff McNeil emerged as an All-Star outfielder but is likely to play a majority of third base. The position itself will be a revolving door early in the season, but once he should remain there every day as Luis Rojas settles on a consistent lineup. McNeil’s power emerged in 2019, which made him a very dangerous hitter due to his high ability to put the ball in play.

Left Field: J.D. Davis

Speaking of a revolving door, that is likely what the Mets outfield will be. J.D. Davis took the job in left field and ran with it to make Brodie Van Wagenen look like a genius for acquiring him. His defense is a significant issue, and any improvement can make him a real All-Star threat in the National League. The competition between Davis and Yoenis Cespedes should be exciting, especially if Cespedes shows he is fully healthy. The prediction is that Davis comes away with the job, but if Cespedes is in the 2015-16 form, then there is a real log jam there.

Center Field: Brandon Nimmo

Despite all the trade rumors, Brandon Nimmo has survived the offseason. His ability to get on base allows his flaws as a center fielder to go overlooked. Nimmo is still a serviceable center fielder, and with Jake Marisnick as a defensive replacement, it should help the Mets late in games.

Right Fielder: Michael Conforto

Michael Conforto has been the one consistent part of the Mets offseason. No drama or publicity and it translates to his play on the field. He has hit 25+ home runs in three straight seasons and has been someone the Mets count on to anchor the middle of the order. Conforto will see time in center field, but a majority of his time will be in right field.

Should the New York Mets Trade for Starling Marte?

New York Mets interested in trading for Starling Marte.

The New York Mets have intensified their desire to acquire Starling Marte from the Pittsburgh Pirates. This rekindling of trade talks likely comes in response to the Atlanta Braves signing Marcell Ozuna. The looming question hanging over the Mets is he worth the trade?

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The simple answer is no. The Mets should not avoid the trade because they do not need him, but because they should not dish out more than he is worth. Marte is heading into his age-31 season, and the defensive metrics do not favor him in center field. The trade would force the Mets to give up either J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo, and guarantee them moving Tomas Nido and a mid-level prospect.

Keep the Hand You Are Dealt

In 2019, Marte’s best slugging year only put him third among the Mets group of outfielders. He sits behind Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis and is only nine points better than Michael Conforto. Nimmo’s best year in 2018 was better than any slugging year Marte put together before his .503 in 2019.

The four main outfield options are all younger, cheaper, and better at the plate than Marte. Yes, Marte is the better base stealer, but he ranks dead last when comparing him to the 2019 Mets outfielders. Marte’s best walk rate season (6.1%) is still worse than Nimmo’s worst walk rate season (7.5%).

We omit the bat of Jake Marisnick because he will not be a consideration to start every day going into spring training.

Speed Does Not Equal Defense

Marte is faster than the two starting center field options of Conforto and Nimmo, but he is not better defensively. There was a time where that statement was completely false, but Marte’s defense fell off big time last season. Marte’s UZR dropped from 3.2 to -7.6 from 2018 to 2019. The drop is way too drastic for the Mets to take a risk to hope he is slightly better than Conforto and Nimmo.

Marte saw more time in center than both Mets center fielders. When both UZR’s are expanded to equal the same amount of time, Nimmo still projects to play better, and Conforto projects as a serviceable right fielder. The Mets will not be getting the gold glove caliber Marte, who is likely in a declining part of his career.

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If the Mets want to include Davis instead of Nimmo, then the Mets will put themselves in a high position to succeed. Despite likely being on a decline, his poor UZR will settle in the middle between 2018 and 2019. The key is keeping Nimmo and any high-level prospects out of the trade.

The Pirates are much like the Mets when it comes to horrible organizational management since the century turned. Both have their fair share of questionable moves, and this trade will come down to makes the trade out of confidence, not desperateness. Brodie Van Wagenen trades have come with more failure than success during his short tenure with the Mets. This final one could be what determines his fate under the ownership of Steve Cohen.

 

Who is the Everyday Third Baseman for the Mets in 2020?

yankees, mets, jeff mcneil

After the signing of Dellin Betances, the New York Mets have gone quiet with making significant moves on the free-agent market. The signing of Josh Donaldson or trade for Nolan Arenado seems very unlikely to solidify third base. Much like the outfield, third base looks like it will be a revolving door throughout the early part of the season until Carlos Beltran settles on a lineup.

The Mets have three options for third base in J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, and Jed Lowrie. Davis commanded playing time in left field when the Mets outfield lacked offense. He played 31 games at third, which is his natural position, but was below average there. Davis is nowhere near a defensive wizard in left field either, but his bat carried enough value to play every day.

McNeil played the same amount of games at third base and projected a lot better defensively. Ninety-eight percent of the balls hit to McNeil resulted in outs. Out of the multiple positions he plays, his best defensive position is at third base. It would be the best bet for the Mets to allow him to get a majority of the starts there.

The Case of Jed Lowrie

Lowrie separates himself in this conversation because it seems like the Mets do not want him on their roster. He barely played in 2019, and it is hard to expect anything out of him at age-36. Lowrie has always been an average third baseman and cannot to play the outfield like McNeil and Davis. Lowrie’s ability to switch hit is something the Mets roster lacks.

Quality depth is always necessary because injuries and poor performance can creep up on any player at any time. What makes the Mets roster interesting is how many different platoon swaps they can have.

If Robinson Cano is out of the lineup, all three could end up playing at the same time. If the Mets decide to play Jake Marisnick or Yoenis Cespedes along with Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto in the outfield, then only one of the three third basemen can be in the lineup.

These problems are good ones for Carlos Beltran to have. He has to cycle between two .300 hitters and a 2018 All-Star, and that is just at third base. Beltran’s outfield situation becomes even messier, especially is Yoenis Cespedes is healthy for Opening Day and has a good Spring Training.

Granted, in 2020, managers may not have the freedom to create lineups like they used to. Creating a lineup which allows players to feel fresh but allows them to get in an everyday rhythm is going to be one of the toughest challenges for the Mets in 2020.

The New York Mets’ Jeff McNeil is drawing trade interest

The New York Mets’ most glaring weakness to this point remains the bullpen. The offense is very good and will be even better if Yoenis Cespedes manages to play at some point in 2020. The rotation, once top-heavy, is now deep with six reliable options to start.

The biggest question mark going to the new year is, therefore, the relief corps. The Mets re-signed Brad Brach but haven’t done much since, focusing on adding starters Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello to one-year deals.

Those two additions mean that Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo will start the season in the bullpen. Dellin Betances remains unsigned and can be an option via free agency.

The Mets have entertained the idea of trading outfielder Brandon Nimmo, but they don’t want to sell low. Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis’ names have also surfaced in the market.

Teams asking about the Mets’ hitting machine

But the newest name to be thrown around in the seemingly never-ending rumors is Jeff McNeil. He was the New York Mets’ leader in wRC+ in 2019, along with Pete Alonso, with 143.

McNeil is still in his prime, at age 27, so he would fetch a significant return. According to Newsday’s Tim Healey, “many teams recently have asked the Mets about Jeff McNeil.”

He says that while the Mets have “indulged that interest with what-if scenarios,” they have resisted the idea of trading him or seriously consider doing so. As the writer notes, it would take a haul for the Mets to move a rising batting machine with an All-Star in his resume.

Highly unlikely to move

Additionally, he has five more seasons of team control. The Mets aren’t moving Jeff McNeil. But other teams are asking anyway because it doesn’t hurt to ask.

In 567 plate appearances with the New York Mets, McNeil hit 23 home runs, scored 83 runs and drove in 75. He had a 6.2 BB % and a very good 13.2 K %. His slash line was .318/.384/.531. He had a 4.6 fWAR season.

 

New York Mets: Jeff McNeil Year in Review

Jeff McNeil carried over his successful 2018 season into 2019 for the New York Mets. The sophomore slump was non-existent for McNeil as he proved himself as one of the best all around hitters in baseball and made his first All-Star team.

The Mets touted McNeil as a potential Ben Zobrist super utility player and he lives up to those expectations. He spent time playing both corner outfield positions and played second and third base. His best position was third, where he had 3 defensive runs saved.

Sweet Swinging

McNeil emerged as the Mets leadoff hitter after Brandon Nimmo struggled in the beginning of the season. McNeil hit .318 with 23 home runs, 75 RBIs and 38 doubles. His power was a surprise this season which elevated him to one of the elite hitters in baseball.

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Along with becoming an All-Star, McNeil showed his ability to spread the ball all over the field. He was the lead man for the batting title until he missed 10 days in August. Crazy to think the Mets almost shipped him away in the Robinson Cano trade.

One of McNeil’s most underrated characteristics was his hustle and drive to win. He never took any innings or plays off and could always be found playing at 110%. The only player with a higher batting average over the last two seasons (min. 800 PAs) is potential back to back MVP Christian Yelich.

McNeil puts the Mets future in a very good spot and will be a big contributor in 2020. With Todd Frazier out of the picture, it should open up an opportunity for McNeil to settle in third base or left field.

Grades:

Hitting for Average: A+, As good as any in baseball

Hitting for Power: A, No one expected 23 home runs from him

Defense: B-, Not a sparking defender, but good a third

Speed/Baserunning: C, Good baserunner, poor base stealer. Has solid speed though

Intangibles: A, Mets fans and teammates love him and his energy

Overall: A+, He would have a chance to be in the MVP category barring his injury and Pete Alonso’s season

Jeff McNeil Lands on the 10-Day IL, But Won’t Be Out For Long

One of the catalysts to the New York Mets lineup is going to spend some time on the shelf after straining his right hamstring during Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves. Jeff McNeil is heading to the Injured List, which creates an opportunity for a former Mets shortstop to return….no it is not Jose Reyes.

During the ninth inning of Monday’s loss, McNeil injured his hamstring attepmting to leg out a ground out. He made a final lunge towards the first base bag, but never actually touched it. His leg expected to absorb the impact of the bag and the shock of missing it tweaked the hamstring.

How to Replace McNeil

The Mets are still out of a playoff spot and his bat in the lineup is irreplaceable. McNeil solidified his spot as the Mets lead off man and was hitting .332. He is expected to be on the IL for 10 days, and the Mets need him back desperately. McNeil now joins Dom Smith and Robinson Cano as key Mets bats on the IL.

He was battling multiple ailments throughout the season and was visibly frustrated as he limped back to the dugout. The damage was not as gruesome as Cano’s hamstring, which likely keeps him out through the season. McNeil and the organization hopes it only takes the minimum 10 days to fully recover.

Former Met Makes A Return

The last game Ruben Tejada played as a Met was Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. For all involved, except for Chase Utley, it did not have the ending he planned for. Utley broke Tejada’s leg with a dirty slide and he missed the rest of the Mets magical run to the World Series. In the two seasons following he spent time with the Cardinals, Giants and Orioles, but has not played in the big leagues since 2017.

It seems like Tejada is an older veteran, but he still has not turned 30 yet. When the Mets first brought him to the big leagues, he was only 20 and had second base partners of Luis Castillo and Alex Cora in his first two starts. Tejada only had 10 home runs during his big league career, but already has six in the minors this season. Whether it has to do with the juiced balls or not remains to be seen, but he has been hitting to ball well to all fields and has a .330 average with the Syracuse Mets.

Tejada still plays third, short and second, which gives the Mets a solid defender at all three positions. Jacob Rhame will likely be moved to the 60-Day IL following elbow surgery to create room for Tejada. With a lefty on the mound for the Braves Wednesday night, Tejada could likely slide into McNeil’s spot at second base as the Mets search for a temporary leadoff hitter.