Mets’ legend Mike Piazza about potential Francisco Lindor extension: ‘If it’s meant to be, he’s going to be here’

New York yankees, Francisco Lindor

In January, the New York Mets acquired superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor, together with pitcher Carlos Carrasco, from the Cleveland Indians, surrendering young shortstops Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario plus two prospects.

Lindor only has a year left of team control for the Mets, which is 2021. After the season, he will become a free agent and can negotiate with any team… unless the Mets can hammer out a contract extension. A deal has to get done before the start of the season, as Lindor prefers to focus on playing once the calendar flips to April.

If there is someone who knows and understands the situation in which Lindor is currently involved, that’s Mets’ legend Mike Piazza. In 1998, when he was in his prime, he landed in Queens via trade, just like Lindor. And, like the shortstop, he was a few months short of free agency when he did.

Piazza wasn’t convinced of making New York his long-term home at first, but the city grew on him. He, according to MLB.com’s Mets beat writer Anthony DiComo, adjusted his view to see the whole scenario as a challenge.

And, just a few weeks after the 1998 season, Piazza committed his future to the Mets in a seven-year, $91 million contract. He went on to become a Hall of Famer.

Piazza visited the Mets’ complex and talked to Lindor

“It wasn’t until about the end of August where I started really saying, ‘I can do this. I’m meant to be here, and I have to follow through on this,’” Piazza recalled Monday from Port St. Lucie, Fla., during his annual visit to Spring Training. “Things worked out.”

Piazza had a conversation with Lindor in the Mets’ complex. The former catcher recalled that the shortstop would have to get comfortable in the city and with the team before committing his future.

“There’s a spiritual component to it,” Piazza said. “[Lindor] has got to go out and get comfortable, and the fact that he has such a good team around him is important as well. For me, there was also the human element. … We were at a time with the team where we knew they were trying to win, so we were going to put some pieces in place to try to make that happen. So that’s my only advice for him: Just go out and play. Go out and play, put your numbers up, and if it’s meant to be, he’s going to be here.”

Ranking the New York Mets Catchers from the Last 20 Seasons

The last 20 seasons of New York Mets baseball has not been kind when it comes to the catching position. After our number one spot, the list quickly falls in talent. The position is lacking talent to a point where they have not produced an All-Star catcher since 2006.

1. Mike Piazza (1998-2005)

There is no doubt about the number one spot on the list. Mike Piazza came to the Mets in 1998 and immediately took the city by storm. Though not the best defensive catcher on the list, he hit .296/.373/.542 with 220 home runs during his time in Flushing. Piazza made six All-Star teams with the Mets, provided countless clutch hits, and entered the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap. He also earned the distinct honor of having his number retired by the franchise.

2. Paul Lo Duca (2006-07)

Paul Lo Duca had to fill Piazza’s shoes during his time with the Mets. His power could not match up to Piazza’s, but he made up for it in every other facet of the game. Lo Duca earned an All-Star appearance in 2006 and slashed .297/.334/.404 with the Mets. He threw out baserunners at a slightly better rate than Piazza but was better overall defensively. Lo Duca also provided an experienced bat in the two spot, which allowed Jose Reyes to steal bases and gave a contact hitter to a potent lineup.

3. Wilson Ramos (2019)

Yes, one season of Wilson Ramos makes him the third-best catcher the Mets had in the last 20 seasons. After a slow first half, Ramos turned things on in the second half, and it included a 26-game hitting streak. His power numbers were not typical of his career, and even Ramos admitted he could drive the ball more. Ramos was also one of the best clutch hitters on the team, hitting .307 with runners in scoring position.

4. Travis d’Arnaud (2013-19)

Travis d’Arnaud never turned into the prized prospect Noah Syndergaard turned became. Health issues and an inconsistent swing/approach at the plate held him back from reaching the potential he tapped into once he left the Mets. During his seven seasons with the Mets, he only batted higher than .250 once but had three seasons of double-digit home run totals. Very overlooked was his pitch framing, which allowed him to steal strikes as good as any catcher in baseball.

5. Ramon Castro (2005-09)

Ramon Castro never earned the nod as the everyday catcher but was a very productive back-up. He was the definition of an excellent second-string catcher, hit for power, and throw guys out. Castro hit .252/.321/.452 with 33 homers and 121 RBIs during his time as a Met.

6. Josh Thole (2009-12)

Josh Thole was a unique hitter that has become a dying breed in baseball. His choke-up, put the ball in play focus, prevented him from ever solidifying himself as a starting catcher. Thole only had a slugging percentage of .333 and hit seven home runs during his four seasons in Flushing. The one thing he holds over every catcher in Mets history is that he caught the only no-hitter in franchise history.

7. John Buck (2013)

John Buck had a white-hot April in the power department. He homered nine times and had more extra-base hits than singles. Buck came back to Earth, only hitting .206 with six homers for the rest of his time before the Mets shipped him to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also helped guide Matt Harvey to a dominant season, catching all but one of his starts.

8. Kevin Plawecki (2015-18)

Kevin Plawecki was another Mets catching prospect who never panned out. He slashed .218/.308/.330 with 14 home runs and was a clubhouse favorite. Plawecki also received the rare task of pitching in two games where he had a 12.00 ERA.

9. Jason Phillips (2001-04)

The rec specs made Jason Phillips a fan favorite who was also a kind person. He did not earn consistent playing time until 2003 when he played some first base and caught when Mike Piazza needed a break. It was his best season hitting in the big leagues at .298/.373/.442. The next year was the complete opposite hitting .218. The consensus from a lot of Mets fans was that he was the slowest player they had seen.

10. Brian Schneider (2008-09)

When Brian Schneider arrived to the Mets, he was no longer the underrated catcher he once was. His career was on the decline, and the Mets only received one decent year from him. Schneider had 12 home runs in 169 games, but his defense was a considerable upgrade. He threw out runners above league average and handled a jumbled pitching staff very well.

Honorable Mentions (Who Could Easily Make the Bottom Half of the List):

Vance Wilson and Omir Santos

New York Mets Legend Shares His COVID-19 Experience, Applauds Healthcare Workers

What should be a shocker to no one, New York Mets legend, and baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Mike Piazza is Italian. But what may shock some people is that Mike Piazza was THIS CLOSE (holds up thumb and pointer finger really close together to emphasize the point) to being trapped in Italy, as the country is still on lockdown over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coach of the Italian Baseball Team Left Just in Time, Kept Out

In a sit down on the Jim Rome ShowPiazza reflects about how he left just in time prior to the Italian government shutting the country down. Piazza, as head coach for the Italian national baseball team since November, has been living in Parma Italy.

“I live in Miami when I’m here in the States, and my wife was like ‘Why don’t you go home for Super Bowl and hang out with your boys?’ and I was like ‘Really?’ And she was like ‘yeah,’ so then I got on a plane a few days before the Super Bowl and was hanging out with a couple of guys,” Piazza said.

Piazza Applauds Healthcare Workers

Later in the interview, Piazza was asked if the response to the coronavirus pandemic has been similar to the response we as a nation showed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Piazza had this to say:

“Many, many healthcare workers, doctors, people who are caring for the sick, who are exposing themselves to possibly getting sick, that to me is true selflessness and bravery in a way, that they’re not allowing the fear to overcome what they need to do,” said Piazza.

“So even though maybe in a crisis situation like 9/11 it was more about first responders, police, firemen, and people who were racing to try to rescue people in a terrorist attack, here it’s the doctors, nurses, people who are giving up themselves and putting themselves in harm’s way to try to comfort the sick and the researchers in the companies that are looking for some sort, hopefully, of protection from it, and ultimately, hopefully, a cure.”

New York Mets Rename Street After Mike Piazza

On a day headlined with the New York Mets and Carlos Beltran, a positive story about Mike Piazza went overlooked. The Mets renamed the street Clover Park sits on to “Piazza Dr” in honor of their hall of fame catcher.

With all the buzz surrounding his former teammate for a season, it was hard to avoid the inevitable questions about Beltran. Piazza will be managing Italy in the 2021 World Baseball Classic and joked about the situation at first, saying there will be no use of camera but plenty of pasta and coffee in the dugout.

Sign Stealing Correctly

Piazza expressed his disappointment in the various cheating scandals and said it was a low moment in baseball. He also said something like this would have never happened during the era he played in. During Piazza’s period, baseball’s steroid era was at its pinnacle, which made a severe impact on its future.

The honor of the street named after him brought Piazza to tears, especially when discussing all of the years he getting ready for the season in Port St. Lucie. His dad, Vince, could not be in attendance as he deals with health issues, but he played a significant role in the development of the hall of famer.

Piazza has no other interest in managing past the WBC. He enjoys his life with his family, along with his role as an alumni ambassador for the Mets. With Beltran officially out, it would be wise to float an offer his way to see if Piazza bites.

Why the New York Yankees Have to Stick With Gary Sanchez

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez has become the most popular whipping boy amongst New York Yankees fans. His lackluster offensive capabilities in the 2019 postseason campaign brought newfound vigor to Yankees fans calling for his benching. What is utterly perplexing is Sanchez is currently on pace to match most of the career statistics Mike Piazza put up. And Piazza is a Hall of Fame catcher.

Let’s start with Sanchez’s biggest bugaboo, his defense.

Sanchez made vast improvements to his defense last year, something overlooked by many. After leading catchers the past two seasons in passed balls (16 and 18 for 2017 and 2018), Sanchez recorded a mere seven passed balls all of last season. That puts his career total for passed balls at 47. Mike Piazza, through his first four full seasons, had 45 passed balls. Sanchez has thrown out 33% of all base stealers so far. Piazza’s caught stealing percentage through his first four full seasons averaged out to 25.75%, and his CAREER caught stealing percentage is 23%. Pizza committed 39 errors in his first four full seasons, Sanchez has committed 35. At this point in Sanchez’s career, he’s a better defensive catcher than Mike Piazza ever was.

Can the New York Yankees expect Sanchez to improve offensively?

Offensively, I don’t think Sanchez will be able to match Piazza for batting average. Piazza has a career .308 batting average, averaging .320 his first four full seasons. Sanchez is sitting at .246. But Sanchez is on pace with Piazza’s career slugging, and two more seasons like 2019 to catch up to Piazza’s OPS and on-base percentage. Piazza has hit only 14 more home runs than Sanchez at this point in their careers, averaged the same amount of walks as Sanchez, and Piazza had a career war of 22.3 to Sanchez’s 11.3. Piazza’s career WAR is 59.6. So it’s not out of the question to see Sanchez catch up, if not, match Piazza by the end of his career.

Gary Sanchez is a future Hall of Famer both at bat and defensively. Comparing him to other Yankees catchers, he currently matches Yogi Berra in fielding percentage, is on pace to hit more home runs, and has a better slugging percentage and OPS for their ENTIRE careers. Sanchez has thrown out more base stealers than Jorge Posada, a better WAR than Jorge through their first four full seasons as catchers, better slugging and OPS, he can catch Jorge in career batting average, and is on pace to pass Jorge in home runs and RBI’s.

Why Yankees fans love to rip him, I’ll never know. But, mathematically speaking, Sanchez is currently on pace to match Yogi Berra and Thurmond Munson as one of the greatest Yankees catchers of all time.