Mets Reserves Lead The Way in 7-2 Victory Over Cardinals

It only made sense that in this odd season for the New York Mets, their backup players lead them to a good win. Francisco Lindor and James McCann got the night off, and Jordan Yamamoto pitched, but despite that, the Mets won 7-2.

The Mets enlisted Miguel Castro as their opener for the first time, and he bent but did not break. Castro kept the Cards scoreless in the first and set the table for Yamamoto to make his Mets debut. Yamamoto performed perfectly as a spot starter as he held the Cardinals to just one run in 2.2 innings and allowed the bullpen to finish the job. The final four relievers allowed just one run in the final 3.1 innings of the game.

After a wild pitch and Tomas Nido‘s two-run home run got the Mets a 3-0 lead, the “-illar” duo took care of the rest. Jonathan Villar recorded two hits, two RBIs, and a homer, and Kevin Pillar recorded a double and two RBIs. Dominic Smith also joined the hit parade with two singles of his own. The trio of Villar, Pillar, and Nido is unlikely to produce like this every night, but all of them played well enough to earn a start in the final game of the series.

The final game of the series features Taijuan Walker against former Met prospect John Gant. The first pitch from Busch Stadium is an early 1:15 p.m. ET start.

Walker Superb, Lindor Hits Grand Slam in Mets 8-5 Win Over Cards

Taijuan Walker became a bigger part of the New York Mets rotation after Carlos Carrasco‘s hamstring injury. He took the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals and was tremendous in the Mets 8-5 victory.

Walker made it look easy in his second start of the spring. He only allowed one hit over four innings and struck out three Cardinals. Walker needed just 50 pitches to get through his outing, and his slider was his best pitch.

The offense tormented Carlos Martinez once again as they tagged him for five runs in three innings. Pete Alonso continued to scorch the ball with a first inning RBI double to drive in Brandon Nimmo. The double was Alonso’s fifth of the spring and moved his average to .400.

In the second, Tomas Nido flicked a home run over the right field fence with the help of the Florida wind. The bulk of the scoring came in a five-run fifth when J.D. Davis beat the throw home on a fielder’s choice for the first run. Francisco Lindor capped off the inning with a grand-slam which made it a 7-0 game. Jerry Blevins put up a scoreless top half of the inning to relieve Walker.

In the eighth, Johneshy Fargas recorded a hustle triple, then scored on an error from third baseman Evan Mendoza to drive in a run. Jeff McNeil had some tough luck as he was hit by a pitch three times in three different spots. Luckily, none resulted in any injuries.

Oswalt Struggles

Corey Oswalt took over for the sixth and allowed plenty of hard contact. Oswalt allowed a two-run homer to Max Moroff and an RBI double before Trevor Hildenberger cleaned up the mess. He got an opportunity to redeem himself in the seventh inning thanks to the spring training rules. Oswalt pitched a 1-2-3 inning but lost it again in the eighth. He allowed another two-run homer to push his line to five runs in just 2.2 innings pitched. Daniel Zamora closed out the win with a scoreless ninth inning.

Saturday is a day off before Jacob deGrom takes the mound against the Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach on Sunday. For the first time, pitchers will bat, allowing deGrom ready for his first plate appearances since 2019. Hopefully, the Mets wrap deGrom in bubble wrap to prevent any other injuries to their rotation.

 

 

New York Mets: Ali Sanchez Traded to the St. Louis Cardinals

Ali Sanchez quickly found a new home after the New York Mets designated him for assignment on Thursday. The Mets shipped Sanchez to the St. Louis Cardinals for cash considerations. Yadier Molina is on top of the depth chart, but Sanchez will battle Ivan Herrera and Andrew Knizner for the backup role.

Sanchez joined the organization as a 16-year old international free agent in 2013. He is known for his defensive presence but does not provide any offensive production. Injuries to Rene Rivera and Tomas Nido forced Sanchez to the big leagues in 2020 after six years in the minors.

Sanchez struggled on both sides of the ball in his five big league games. He recorded one hit in nine at-bats and was part of numerous defensive lapses. One of them resulted in Jon Berti stealing three bases in one inning. Sanchez has thrown out 46% of stolen base attempts in the minors but was 0-for-3 with two wild pitches and a passed ball last season.

James McCann, Tomas Nido, and Patrick Mazeika are the only catchers on the Mets 40-man roster. Bruce Maxwell and David Rodriguez are non-roster invites who will also join them in spring training.

New York Mets: What the Bench Looks Like After Villar Addition

After signing Jonathan Villar on Monday, the New York Mets have their best group of bench players in years. Each player has multiple years of experience as starting players, strengthening the competition between each player to earn a roster spot. Here is a look at the bench options on the current 40-man roster.

Catcher: Tomas Nido, Ali Sanchez, Patrick Mazieka

Tomas Nido has the clear upper hand over Ali Sanchez and Patrick Mazeika for the back-up catcher job. Nido is only a .197 career hitter, but his defense is his calling card. He puts up strike rates above 60% on both sides of the plate since 2018. In his seven games during 2020, he was 7-for-24 with two home runs and six runs batted in.

Sanchez looked overmatched in his five games last season. He recorded one hit in nine at-bats and made numerous mental errors on defense. Mazeika made it to the big league roster but never played in 2020.

Infielders: Luis Guillorme, Jonathan Villar, Jose Martinez

Luis Guillorme, Jonathan Villar, and Jose Martinez all specialize in different facets of the game. Guillorme is defense, Villar is speed, and Martinez is power. Guillorme had an incredible offensive year to support his outstanding defense. Guillorme slashed .333/.426/.439 over 29 games with 2 outs above average on defense. He seems like a lock to make the opening day roster.

Villar should make the roster due to his speed and ability to play the infield and outfield. His defensive numbers are poor during the last two seasons, but his speed is legit. Villar led baseball with 62 stolen bases in 2019 and finished second with 16 in 2020. His bat is very streaky, but as a switch hitter with speed, it should be enough for him to make the team.

Martinez is a big wild card due to his defensive struggles. He has a .289 career batting average but -24 defensive runs saved in his career. He brings tremendous value as a pinch hitter with a .306 average and a .534 slugging percentage against left-handed pitching.

Outfield: Albert Almora Jr, Guillermo Heredia

Albert Almora Jr. and Guillermo Heredia is the most balanced battle in camp. Almora is coming off two subpar seasons with the bat but is still regarded as a strong defender. Heredia has similar stats over the last two seasons, but the Mets got to watch him play at the end of 2020. Both will play great defense in spring training, but Almora’s experience playing every day should give him the edge.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Catcher Tomas Nido

New York Mets catcher Tomas Nido was the backup to Wilson Ramos when summer camp ended but only received 24 at-bats on the season. A bout with COVID-19 ended a strong start to his season that never received a proper finish due to lingering issues after.

Nido’s playing time was sparse as he only appeared in seven games (six starts) over the three weeks he was healthy. He took advantage of the playing time, recording a hit in all but his final game of the season. The memorable game for Nido came against the Washington Nationals. Nido recorded two home runs and six RBIs, joining an elite group of Mets catchers to pull off the feat.

On defense, it was clear that he was the better catcher defensively. Nido only threw out one baserunner in six tries, but his work framing the ball continued to shine. In the limited sample size, he a 48.5% strike rate, it was slightly below his normal rate, but there was nothing that proved it was declining.

Battle With COVID-19

Nido was the only Met to get COVID-19 during the regular season, and it ended his season. He did not play in a single game after August 18 due to the virus and the related complications. While he did not contract the virus the entire rest of the season, it was not enough for him to get back to rejoining the Mets.

Overall, he was far better than expected with the bat during the games he played in. He slashed .292/.346/.583 with two home runs and six runs batted in. While most of that production came in one game, it still was enough for the Mets to depend on him as their backup catcher in 2021. Even if the offense is not productive, the pitching staff loves throwing to him. Should they miss out on J.T. Realmuto or James McCann, they will still have a reliable defensive catcher in Nido.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 60 (25), Still hitting under .200 for his career.

Power: 80 (30), Think there is enough power to get into double digits in a full season, but that is his max.

Run: 20 (20), Probably the fastest catcher on the roster, but that is not saying much.

Arm: 55 (55), Very effective when the pitchers help him by holding on runners.

Field: 60 (60), Great pitch framer, and pitch caller.

Overall: 65 (35), Small sample size hero.

 

New York Mets: Nido’s Two Home Runs Lead to a 8-2 Victory

The day game after a night game is always an opportunity for the backup catcher to get himself some at-bats. For the New York Mets, Tomas Nido took full advantage of the opportunity with two home runs, including a grand slam, along with six of the eight RBIs in the Mets 8-2 win over the Washington Nationals.

Nido was 4-for-13 heading into Thursday’s matchup but hit under .200 in the previous two seasons. The breakout game gave him more home runs, and RBIs than Wilson Ramos has all season. Nido became the fifth Mets catcher ever to record six RBIs in a game. He joined the selective group of Gary Carter, Todd Hundley, Mike Piazza, and Paul Lo Duca.

Dominic Smith remained hot, adding another home run to his team lead and solidifying his spot as the everyday designated hitter. Pete Alonso also recorded an RBI single for the eighth Mets run. Luis Guillorme also recorded two more hits to push his average to .375. His defense up the middle with Andres Gimenez has proved Guillorme to be a valuable backup.

Injury Woes

The game started with an injury scare as Jeff McNeil fearlessly rammed into the left-field wall, making a tremendous catch to end the first inning. Though he attempted to walk off the field on his own, he had to get carted off. X-Rays for McNeil came back negative, and he will undergo an MRI to get a clearer idea of the severity of his injury. It forced the Mets to insert Billy Hamilton into the third spot in their order in the bottom of the first.

David Peterson once again put together another impressive start. He only allowed one hit through five innings and striking out three Nationals. After allowing two walks and an unearned run in the first inning, Peterson retired seven in a row and only allowed two base runners for the rest of his start. Peterson has proved his worth as the second-best starter behind Jacob deGrom.

At 9-11, the Mets are somehow three games out of first place and begin a three-game weekend series with the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday. Jacob deGrom takes the mound against a starter to be announced, most likely Vince Velazquez. The first pitch from Citizens Bank Park is at 7:05 p.m. ET.

 

New York Mets: Why Wilson Ramos Should Be a DH Candidate

As the negotiations toward continuing the MLB season continues, one of the key topics is the universal designated hitter. The New York Mets have an abundance of options, but an overlooked choice is Wilson Ramos.

Ramos has one of the most reliable bats at catcher, but his defense prevents him from ranking as a top-10 catcher. His caught stealing has been below league average over the last three seasons and is in the same area with about everything else defensively. The caught sealing numbers were due in part to the inability to hold runners on, but moving Ramos to DH strengthens the defense.

Who Becomes the Catcher

This plan only works if the rosters expand to 30 for the entire season. Rene Rivera handles the bulk of the catching duty, and Tomas Nido becomes the third catcher on the roster. Rivera is better with the running game than Nido, but Nido is stronger in his framing. Rivera has a career 36 percent caught stealing for his career while Nido lags at 13 percent.

The biggest difference for the Mets is adding the extra catcher to the lineup stops them from using Yoenis Cespedes or Dominic Smith as the DH. With the depth of the Mets lineup, using Rivera/Nido should not hurt their offensive production. If they needed a pinch hitter, they could use Cespedes/Smith with the ability to put the third catcher in the game.

In extreme circumstances, the Mets lose the DH to make Ramos the catcher and play classic NL baseball. In an 82-game season with a DH, Ramos should play in all 82. Last season, he hit .307 with runners in scoring position and .367 in high leverage situations.

Keeping Ramos fresh was a key emphasis for the Mets down the stretch run of 2019. His hot hitting in the second half made it hard to take him out of the lineup. Putting him as the DH every 2-3 games allows them to keep him fresh and continue to give Cespedes/Smith the opportunity to DH when Ramos is behind the dish. It serves as an alternative plan if the Mets would rather have more offense than defense with the universal DH.

New York Mets: Offense Finds New Life in 7-4 Against Astros

New York Mets, Rick Porcello

Tuesday’s game between the New York Mets and Houston Astros was not typical of the Mets Spring Training. The pitching did not dominate, pitching in and out of trouble throughout the day. Their offense showed up, but it came from mostly players who are trying to make the team.

Rick Porcello scattered nine hits over 4.2 innings and only allowed two runs. He only struck out one, which shows he was not dominant by any means. Porcello had a baserunner on in every innings he pitched but managed to keep the Astros from mustering anything significant off him.

Offensive Revival

Rene Rivera had a big day going 2-for-4 with an RBI as he tries to steal the backup catcher job from Tomas Nido. Robinson Cano added a two-RBI single on the day and has hits in back to back games. The bench crew was led by Matt Winaker’s solo home run to give the Mets the lead in the eighth inning. Jake Hager also added an RBI single in the Mets three-run eighth.

Pedro Payano picked up the six-out save, despite allowing four base runners. The newly acquired reliever has a 3.52 ERA so far. Chasen Shreve struggled again, allowing a solo homer to Drew Ferguson to give up the Mets lead.

On Wednesday, Jacob deGrom makes his second start of the Spring as he takes on the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets will face a familiar foe in Carlos Martinez. The game will be at Port St. Lucie at 1:10 p.m. and is on SNY.

New York Mets: Tomas Nido hired a swing coach in the offseason to improve offensively

It is very clear that the New York Mets have a starting catcher, and his name is Wilson Ramos. The Venezuelan remains the most potent offensive force at the position, but his defense and framing at this point in his career have taken a step back.

That’s why the Mets backup catcher, Tomas Nido, has had opportunities to play. The 2020 season will likely not be an exception: Ramos will see the bulk of at-bats from the position, but Nido will also play more than a little bit.

After all, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, just to name a couple of Mets’ pitchers, haven’t been shy about saying they prefer to pitch to Nido and other backup options.

Nido has already shown the Mets that he can be a capable backup catcher. He does everything that a backup receiver should do: he handles his pitchers in a good way, he calls a fantastic game, he is a good framer (in the 74th percentile according to Statcast) and his pop time was in the 93rd percentile in 2019.

The Mets’ backup pending assignment

The remaining step for him to have an option at starting duties is, well, the bat. In 144 plate appearances with the Mets last season, he had a .191/.231/.316 slash line with 4 home runs. He had a very low 4.9 BB% and a below-average 25.7 K%.

Even if he wants to maintain his spot as the Mets’ backup catcher, he needs to improve his offensive production. To do that, he hired a swing coach during the offseason to help with his approach, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

“Just a better bat-path and hitting the ball to all directions of the field,” Nido said to the Post explaining the changes he intends to apply. “Not just slapping singles, kind of driving the ball into the gap and having a better chance of being successful and battling in at-bats.”

Nido is currently out of minor league options. He will compete for backup duties with Rene Rivera. The New York Mets are sure hoping that Nido can improve offensively.

Predicting the New York Mets Bench Players

For the first time in quite a few years, the New York Mets have the depth they can count on throughout their bench. It features some high profile contracts and critical acquisitions to bolster the team’s defensive depth late in games.

Rene Rivera

The backup catcher battle is going to be heated one throughout Spring Training quietly. Tomas Nido is out of minor league options and has not shown any hitting prowess during his career. There are plenty of choices similar to Nido in the minors, and Rene Rivera is a veteran the Mets have trusted with their pitching staff before. Rivera is still a great defensive catcher, and Noah Syndergaard will be happy to throw it to him throughout Spring Training.

Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith has survived the offseason trade rumors, but the ones in Spring Training may be a different story. Despite the Mets signing Matt Adams, Smith should make it out of camp with the team. He proved to be a valuable pinch hitter after Pete Alonso ran away with the first base job. The only way the Mets trade him is if he breaks out during Spring Training and the Mets deal him when his stock is high.

Luis Guillorme

This spot would belong to Jed Lowrie but his reality as a Met is dim. Either he will not be ready for Opening Day or the Mets will find a way to move him before the Spring ends. Luis Guillorme was a very useful player off the bench during the second half of 2019. He can play three out of the four infield spots well and can is useful in a bench role.

Jake Marisnick

The Mets traded for Jake Marisnick as a small upgrade to Juan Lagares. He will be a massive part of the Mets during the late innings due to his gold glove caliber defense in center field. Marisnick is not much of a hitter, but with all the outfield options the Mets have, hitting is not the reason why he is a Met. It would be no surprise to see him play in 120 games but only tally around 300 plate appearances as he did in 2019.

Yoenis Cespedes

The left-field competition between Yoenis Cespedes and J.D. Davis is a heavyweight prizefight that is going overlooked. By all accounts, Cespedes is healthy and ready to participate fully during Spring Training. Just three years ago, their roles differed. Cespedes was the stud hitter coming off a strong 2016, and Davis was trying to show he belonged on a major league roster. He has a huge chip on his shoulder and has set his expectations higher than ever.

The injuries and off-field stories make us forget how special an athlete Cespedes is. Despite turning 34, he still garners Ruth like power and a cannon for an arm. When healthy, the Mets win games, and if he is healthy, the production will follow, and he will see himself in the lineup often as the season progresses.