Beane and Stearns at the top of the Mets’ wish list for the head of baseball operations position

New York Mets

The New York Mets didn’t have any luck with their general managers in 2021. Jared Porter lost his job amid a sexual harassment scandal, and acting GM Zack Scott had a DUI arrest. In any case, neither man could bring sustained success for the Mets, who did hold the first place on the NL East for months but crumbled late and finished third with a 77-85 record, far from the playoff spots.

That’s why it is a priority for the Mets to hire a president of baseball operations during the offseason, to take over baseball-related decisions and name a general manager who can lead the franchise to greener pastures.

At the moment, there are several candidates. Theo Epstein will reportedly not take over the Mets, but two successful, forward-thinking baseball guys remain a possibility to fulfil the role: Oakland A’s Billy Beane, and Milwaukee Brewers’ mastermind David Stearns.

Beane is, according to SNY, considering the role. According to two long-time friends of Billy Beane say that the A’s exec is “very much open to the idea” of joining the Mets as their head of baseball operations.

The other candidates to take over the Mets’ baseball operations

Stearns, on the other hand, seems a bit harder to pry away from the Brewers. They are an up-and-coming franchise that has made the playoffs four consecutive years, from 2018 to 2021, after he took over as general manager in 2015. He was promoted to president of baseball operations in 2019.

SNY also recently reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ current assistant GM, Brandon Gomes, is a candidate to fill a front office position.

Both men are qualified to take over as the next Mets’ head of baseball operations, but getting them out of their current teams won’t be so easy. The fall is just starting, and the organization has some time to make the best decision.

The sooner the Mets can have their POBO, the better, as they can start planning the entire offseason, free agent acquisitions, and potential trades.

Mets: Examining Aaron Loup’s historically great season

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The New York Mets signed left-handed reliever Aaron Loup late in the offseason, to a one-year, $3 million pact. Normally these kinds of deals are for veteran relievers that will complete the roster, which is exactly what Loup represented: a weapon that would help the team retire tough lefties without being a liability against righties, but by no means a closer or high-powered bullpen ace.

Fast forward to the end of the regular season, and we can now say that Loup was as effective as most of the league’s best closers, if not more. He finished with a brilliant 0.95 ERA in 56.2 frames, in which he also struck out 26.1 percent of the hitters he faced while walking just 7.3 percent.

According to the New York Daily News, only 13 pitches have thrown at least 50 innings in a season with an ERA lower than 1.00. Zack Britton, Dennis Eckersley, Jonathan Papelbon, Wade Davis, Fernando Rodney, and Blake Treinen are some of the names. The Mets’ Loup is now a member of the list.

Loup’s 2.45 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) was also an excellent figure, and proof that his year was not a fluke.

A premier arm in the Mets’ bullpen

In a Mets’ bullpen with Seth Lugo, Trevor May, Dellin Betances, Robert Gsellman, Miguel Castro, Drew Smith, Jeurys Familia, and others, Loup had the second-highest WAR (Fangraphs’ version) with 1.6. Only Edwin Diaz, the team closer, had more, and Loup’s was the fourth-highest in the club.

After the season he just had, it’s safe to say that the 33-year-old southpaw earned himself quite a payday. Relievers, more than ever, are wanted all around the league, especially those capable of retiring both lefties and righties, striking out people, and putting the ball on the ground (he did it 50.4 percent of the time).

Will the Mets be interested in retaining his services? They should, and depending on the price tag, they will. The pitcher himself is interested in returning.

“I’d love to come back,” Loup stated recently. “I’ve had a blast playing here. I’ve had fun with the guys all year long and I’ve had a great year, so I see no reason not to.”

Will the Mets’ re-sign him for 2022?

Should the Mets retain struggling outfielder Michael Conforto for next year?

The New York Mets had an extremely disappointing offense in 2021, and it was perhaps the biggest reason why the team vastly underperformed preseason expectations. They had a solid group of pitchers, they just couldn’t produce runs with any sort of consistency.

One of the Mets’ slumping stars in 2021 was, without a doubt, Michael Conforto. The slugger slashed .232/.344/.384 with a 106, slightly above average production thanks, mainly, to all the walks he took. While swinging the bat, he didn’t inflict too much damage, with 14 home runs in 125 games and 479 plate appearances.

It was an uncharacteristic down year for Conforto, a career .255/.356/.468 hitter with a 124 wRC+. He couldn’t replicate his 2019-2020 form, when he slashed .274/.376/.499 in 205 games combined.

It’s true that he had to endure a bad hamstring injury that took about a month of his season, but the Mets couldn’t enjoy production either before or after getting hurt.

Having considered all these factors, should the Mets bring back Conforto for 2022? How about long-term? It’s a tricky question, but the answer is yes.

The Mets would be wise to extend a qualifying offer

Conforto is still 28, so he should have a handful of good seasons left in his bat. He wasn’t good in 2021, but he has a long track record of success before that. Perhaps the injury was extremely problematic.

Maybe his mind had something to do with his slump, too. “When you’re thinking too much, you’re becoming too mental at the plate. You’re not supposed to think at the plate,” now former Mets Rojas said on Aug. 2. “You think outside the box. Outside the batter’s box, you’re thinking, you have your plan, you go in, and all your chips are in. That’s in. You step in there, you look for your pitch, and you just swing. I think he’s thinking too much at the plate, and that’s causing him to be in between. We want to brush that off.”

The Mets have the ability to offer him a qualifying offer, which is worth the mean salary of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players. Last year, the QO was $18.9 million.

The Mets should offer it, because if he takes it, they have a good, starting-caliber outfielder for a year and they give themselves a longer window to negotiate another deal, while closely monitoring his performance in 2022 before investing. If he declines the offer, they get a high draft pick in compensation.

The QO or a contract up to three years sounds like a good idea for the Mets. Any longer commitments are worth handling with care.3.032

 

Mets move on from manager Luis Rojas after disappointing season

New York Mets, Luis Rojas

After finishing the season with an extremely disappointing 77-85 record when many people expected them to make a deep postseason run, the New York Mets decided that it was time for a change in the manager position.

The Mets declined their 2022 contract option on manager Luis Rojas, less than a day after completing another losing season and missing the playoffs. “These decisions are never easy,” president Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “But we feel a change is needed at this time.”

Between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Rojas ended up with a 103-119 record, and finished fourth last year and third in the present campaign. He was always liked and respected by his players, many of which he managed in the minor leagues, but ultimately couldn’t land the Mets in October.

Alderson now wants to give his next president of baseball operations the freedom to hire the manager he/she likes.

The Mets’ next step

That position is expected to be filled by the Mets in the next few weeks. Several candidates have already popped out in rumors, most notably Theo Epstein, who took two much-maligned franchises, the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, to the championship in the 2000s and 2010s.

The Mets want Rojas to stay in the organization in a different, yet to be specified role.

“I want to share such heartfelt gratitude to so many in the Mets organization for not only the last two seasons as manager, but for the last 16 years in a variety of roles,” Rojas said in a statement. “In each and every position I held, striving for excellence was our daily mission. I will always hold the relationships and friendships, developed over the years, dear to my heart, and am forever grateful to have been able to wear the Mets uniform for so long.”

“He is a good man who represented the Mets with dignity and calm during two extremely trying years,” Mets’ owner Steve Cohen tweeted on Monday.

Mets’ Taijuan Walker feels “really good” about his season

New York Mets, Taijuan Walker

Taijuan Walker was a last-resort type of signing for the New York Mets. Long focused on landing star pitcher Trevor Bauer, he was sort of a plan B when the ace, currently out for legal reasons and a pending investigation, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But the 29-year-old Walker was a good pitcher for the Mets in 2021, even if his performance dipped considerably in the second half. His 7-11 record and 4.47 ERA (as of Thursday afternoon) are a bit misleading: he was an All-Star selection (and deservedly so), and had a solid 1.18 WHIP.

“Me personally, I thought it was a really good season,” Walker said, per SNY. “I know the numbers don’t look good, especially in the second half, but to be where I was the last three years and make 29 starts, 30 games total, and throw I think 160 innings [159.0 to be exact], I would say that’s a win.

“Obviously, we want to make the playoffs, we want to go deep into the playoffs and win a World Series, but I felt really good about my season. The training staff did a really good job of keeping me healthy and just working with me making sure I was able to go out there every fifth day.”

The Mets were able to keep him in one piece

Health, indeed, was a crucial part of his success. The Mets were able to have him on the mound for 159 innings, which qualifies as a win after injuries derailed his 2018 and 2019 campaigns.

The offseason will be active for the Mets as they try to fill out their rotation amid significant turnover. Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman are going to be free agents, but Walker remains under contract and is expected to be one of the five starting pitchers in 2022.

As for goals, Walker wants one thing: “Just be consistent throughout the whole year,” he said. “Next year, I plan on going 180-plus innings over 30 starts, but being consistent with it, try to go deep into games every time out.”

Mets’ Noah Syndergaard returns with a bang; hopes to be back in New York next year

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2020, and encountering several setbacks along the way, New York Mets’ pitcher Noah Syndergaard made his long-awaited return to action at Citi Field on Tuesday against the Miami Marlins.

It was his first start in 730 days, so you would imagine there was some adrenaline in his body when he took the mound. The Mets are out of the race, so the crowd was evidently not the biggest, but those in attendance cheered as “Thor” threw a perfect inning with two strikeouts.

In total, he threw 10 pitches: only fastballs and changeups, as advised by the Mets’ medical staff because sliders and curveballs would result in additional stress for his elbow. But his stuff was impressive: the heater reached 96 mph with plenty of carry, and the change was nasty, too.

“When I was walking out of the dugout, hearing the fans, I almost had to shed a little tear,” Syndergaard said to MLB.com. “I’m not really an emotional guy, but it definitely got to me.”

Will he return to the Mets next season?

Even the opposing manager was happy to see the Mets’ star pitching after such a long layoff. “It was good to see Noah get back out there, honestly,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “You hate to see guys go two years battling that.”

Syndergaard plans on pitching another time over the weekend against the Atlanta Braves. After that, he will be a free agent, but hopes to be back next year.

He will likely get a one-year qualifying offer from the Mets, and there is a good chance of accepting it, like Marcus Stroman did this year, to show he can throw breaking balls and rebuild his arm to suit a regular starter’s workload. Then, if everything goes according to the plan, he could re-enter free agency after the 2022 campaign.

“It would be something I would be extremely grateful for,” Syndergaard said of the qualifying offer. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. It’s definitely something I’m hoping for.”

“I’m pretty confident that we’ll reach an agreement, and I’ll be pitching here next year. I’d love nothing more than that. New York has a special place in my heart, and always will.”

Mets decide to shut down their ace for the remainder of the year

The New York Mets made the logical decision of shutting down ace Jacob deGrom for the remainder of the season, after the team fell off the race for a playoff spot via the NL East crown or the second Wild Card.

DeGrom hasn’t played in an official MLB game since July 7, when he had to leave his start with right elbow discomfort that was later dubbed as inflammation. However, the team recently admitted that his UCL was partially torn at one point, but that the issue “resolved itself” and surgery was no longer an option at the moment.

The Mets decided to keep deGrom from pitching this year the same day fellow star Noah Syndergaard returned to the mound and looked impressive in an inning of work.

With less than a week remaining in the calendar, and the Mets not playing for anything, they chose not to risk further injury by bringing deGrom to pitch an inning or two before the end of the regular season.

“Everyone is fully on board,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said of the decision, according to MLB.com. “Jake is fully on board. It’s the right thing.”

“He would be fine to pitch, but there’s no sense to it.”

Injuries limited the Mets’ star to less than 100 innings

The Mets could only enjoy 92 innings of deGrom this season (in which he put a historic 1.08 ERA), thanks to several injuries that included right lat, side, back, shoulder, forearm issues, and elbow inflammation in mid-July.

The pitcher threw a successful bullpen on Monday, and could have returned in case of emergency. However, he hadn’t faced live hitters and there is really no point in bringing him back.

“He checked all the boxes for it, but we talked today — and with him too, and everyone — and at this point, there’s no point for him to pitch in a game,” Rojas said. “He’s just going to shut it down for the season and focus on his offseason routine. … He was fine to pitch after the side [session] yesterday, but at this point, it just doesn’t make any sense to have him go out there and compete.”

Francisco Lindor believes Mets can re-sign Javier Baez this offseason

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The 73-79 New York Mets are essentially out of the playoffs race at this point, which is a shame considering they led the NL East division for much of the first half and actually a sizable portion of the second. That’s not, however, Javier Baez’s fault.

While he wasn’t perhaps the best fit for the Mets, they acquired Baez in a deadline deal with the Chicago Cubs. His tenure in New York didn’t start particularly well, and there was a spat with fans over the constant booing towards players at one point, but there is no denying that the dynamic shortstop has made a positive impact in Queens.

In 39 games and 147 plate appearances, Baez is hitting .307/.383/.555 with a .938 OPS with the Mets. He also has nine homers and five stolen bases over that span, with 19 RBI and 29 runs scored.

The Mets could be able to afford Baez, according to Lindor

Seeing how he can produce in the Big Apple, Mets’ superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor, who is friends with Baez, believes that the team can re-sign his fellow countryman in the offseason to a long-term deal.

“I know Javy does fit in, in what we’re trying to accomplish here. He’s a winner, he’s plays the game as hard as he can day in and day out. He gives it his best, and he’s my boy too. That helps. At the end of the day, I know what he’s capable of doing, we’ve all seen it. His approach has been outstanding, and he’s definitely helped us win a couple more games in September for sure,” Lindor told SNY on Wednesday.

Baez has been on a tear since returning from the injured list on August 22, hitting .343 (34-for-99) with 23 runs, seven doubles, seven dingers, 15 RBI, nine walks, a .420 OBP, a .626 SLG and a 1.046 OPS.

Media members asked Lindor if he thought Mets’ owner Steve Cohen could afford pairing the two infielders together for the long term.

“Yeah, yeah, of course, of course,” Lindor said, smiling.

It’s believed that Baez could command between $125 million and $200 million in free agency.

Mets Game Preview (9/21/21) vs. Miami Marlins (86-65)

After receiving a day off, the New York Mets head up to Fenway Park to begin a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox. The Mets playoffs hopes are hanging on by a thread, and their trip to Boston could be what finally puts them and their fans out of their misery.

One-run games have been the theme of the Mets season as 61 of their 150 games have concluded in that fashion. While they dominated them early in the season, they have consistently fallen short has the offense produced less and less. After a slow, injury-plagued start to his Mets career, Javier Baez has been a different hitter since returning from the IL. Baez is slashing .305/.381/.565 with nine home runs and 19 runs batted in. He also has 11 walks in 37 games compared to just 15 in 91 games with the Cubs.

After a slow stretch that knocked them out of first place, the Red Sox have won five straight games. With the division out of reach, the Red Sox has a 1.5 game lead in the first wild card spot and looked primed for a playoff run. Five players with at least 20 home runs have helped lead their offense which has been one of the best in baseball. Nathan Eovaldi has stabilized the starting rotation enough for Chris Sale to return and take the reigns. In six starts, Sale has a 2.40 ERA along with a clean 4-0 record.

Pitching Matchup

Marcus Stroman makes his MLB leading 32nd start of the season and has been a true ironman for a team that has dealt with injuries all season. While he is unlikely to win the Cy Young Award, he certainly deserves some votes thrown his way. Stroman has a 2.88 ERA over 169 innings and is ninth in groundball outs this season. He was as great as ever during his last start against the St. Louis Cardinals, where he struck out eight while allowing two runs in six innings pitched.

Eduardo Rodriguez has struggled to find consistency all season, and it shows in his 5.00 ERA. Despite putting up his best strikeout and walk rates of his career, he is allowing just under ten hits per nine innings pitched. Rodriguez has also put together back-to-back six-inning outings just twice all season. He looked much better in his last start against the Seattle Mariners, where he held them to one run in six innings with six strikeouts.

Matchups To Lookout For

Marcus Stroman vs. Xander Bogaerts: 11-for-36 (.306), 2 Doubles, 2 Home Runs, 2 Walks, 8 Strikeouts

Marcus Stroman vs. Christian Vazquez: 7-for-19 (.368), Double, Walk, 3 Strikeouts

Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Francisco Lindor: 2-for-11 (.182)

Mets’ Noah Syndergaard could skip minor league assignment and rejoin big league team

The New York Mets, losers of eight of their last eleven games, have ceded a lot of ground in the NL East division race even though they won on Sunday. They are currently 73-77, third in the table and 5.5 games behind the leaders, the Atlanta Braves.

The situation isn’t much better in the Wild Card race, either, so the Mets have no choice but to win most of their remaining games and hope for the Braves (and the Philadelphia Phillies) to slide.

Some help could be on the way. Jacob deGrom is throwing from a mound and should not be far from a return, while Noah Syndergaard, who underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, is also on his way back.

Syndergaard suffered a setback in late May, when he nursed right elbow inflammation that prevented him from throwing for six weeks. After slowly, but surely working his way back to New York, he threw 15-20 pitches during a live BP session on Sunday, in what was his second time facing hitters since a COVID-19 diagnosis forced him to quarantine for 10 days.

The Mets are still weighing their options

According to the Mets’ official site, they are now “considering activating Syndergaard without sending him back on a Minor League rehab assignment, though there’s a chance they’ll play it safe and test him in a more controlled Minors environment instead. Either way, Syndergaard has a decent shot of returning on the Mets’ upcoming road trip through Boston and Milwaukee.”

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been bad in 2021, but it could definitely use a spark such as the one Syndergaard can definitely provide.

There is an issue, though: the Mets will not let him throw sliders and curveballs, as they generate too much stress in his right arm. That has been the advice from doctors and specialists to Syndergaard. Instead, he will be a two-pitch reliever in the stretch run: he will only throw fastballs and changeups.