New York Mets: deGrom Finally Gets Run Support in 7-2 Victory

New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom stabilized the Mets after the fiasco from Sunday. He put together another excellent start to end the five-game losing streak and avoid a sweep to the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately, the Mets suffered multiple injuries on the day.

deGrom looked unhittable throughout the first four innings of his start. Two runs in the fifth inning were all he allowed in his six innings of work and struck out ten on the night. Former Met Travis d’Arnaud got the Mets back once again when his home run tallied the first Braves run. He followed in the footsteps of Wilmer Flores, who did the same as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2019.

Run Support?

It is a rare game where deGrom received enough run support to pitch comfortably. The offense broke out of their slump with runners in scoring position, going 5-for-13 on the night in those situations. Wilson Ramos had a breakout night with two hits, including his first home run, and three runs batted in.

Michael Conforto and Robinson Cano remained hot for the Mets as well. Conforto moved up to the two spot in the lineup and recorded three hits, including a double. His average sits at a pretty .325 on the season. Cano recorded three RBIs and hits during both of his at-bats before leaving with a leg injury.

Injuries Galore

The Mets infield is in shambles as three-quarters of the infield suffered an injury, and the other quarter is in the midst of a major slump. Cano injured is groin attempting to score from second on a groundball that squeaked past Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson. It was clear the second Cano had to run hard and slide that some injury would occur just base on his injuries in 2019.

Amed Rosario left the game with left quad tightness in the third inning. It is unclear when the injury occurred, but it pained him enough that he could not run down the first baseline on his ground out. At least the Mets have Andres Gimenez as a reliable replacement should the injury linger.

Jeff McNeil was scratched right before the game due to back tightness he suffered during batting practice. It did not seem major enough to keep him out multiple games, but his back was not in good enough shape to get through the game.

Welcome to the Bullpen

Jared Hughes showed why he was an underrated signing for the Mets. He pitched two innings, allowing only two walks and striking out three to end the game. Hughes’s sinker/slider combo is an excellent addition to the Mets bullpen, which lacked depth behind their top horses.

The Mets try to take advantage of a Washington Nationals team who has not played since July 30th. They begin a short two-game series at Nationals Park on Tuesday, with Steven Matz facing a Nationals starter to be announced. The first pitch from the national capital is at 7:05 p.m.

Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets Series Preview

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

Almost four months late, we finally have Opening Day and our first series preview of the year. The New York Mets welcome in the defending NL East champion Atlanta Braves. Both teams start the series shorthanded but important games will finally begin the 60-game sprint of a season.

Pitching Matchups:

Friday, 7/24, 4:10 p.m.: Mike Soroka vs. Jacob deGrom

Saturday, 7/25, 4:10 p.m.: Max Fried vs. Steven Matz

Sunday, 7/26, 7:08 p.m.: Sean Newcomb vs. Rick Porcello

The biggest question the Mets fans had about their lineup was Robinson Cano‘s place in the batting order. Not quite the offensive force he once was, Cano is in the six spot for Opening Day. The lineup looks extremely deep with Wilson Ramos, who hit over .300 w/RISP batting eighth in the order.

The Mets are 38-20 on Opening Day, and deGrom dominates day game with a 1.78 ERA. It at least puts the Mets in an excellent position to take the first game against a team they struggled against in 2019. They were 8-11 against the Braves, and taking the final three games of the season saved the record from plummeting even more.

Shorthanded Squads

The Mets had to flip around their rotation when they learned Marcus Stroman would not pitch the second game of the season. His calf injury is not a huge setback for Stroman but Matz and Porcello as pitching earlier than expected to start the season.

The Braves are extremely shorthanded in the catching department. Tyler Flowers and Travis d’Arnaud are on the IL due to COVID-19 symptoms. While both tested negative, neither traveled to New York with the Braves. Alex Jackson and William Contreras will take their place during the series. They also placed Cole Hamels on the 45-day IL to open up roster spots.

The Braves will also start Austin Riley at third over the injured Johan Camargo. Though both teams are not at full strength, it is finally time for America’s Pastime to return even if it includes empty stadiums.

Mets news: DeGrom throws and is on track for Opening Day; Marisnick to play today; Cespedes to DH on Friday; Ramos shows up

The New York Mets released details about some of their players’ injuries on Tuesday through manager Luis Rojas. On Monday, it was announced that infielder Jed Lowrie was placed on the injured list with a left knee issue that prevented him from fielding and running smoothly.

Tuesday was a much brighter day, at least when it comes to injuries. Mets’ ace and two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom threw a side session with no incident at Citi Field. The right-hander, you may recall, had a slight scare with his back early last week.

Thankfully for the Mets, he has felt a lot better since then and has reported no further issues that may complicate his availability for Opening Day, a game for which he is still lined up for (Friday against the Atlanta Braves.)

Rojas reported on Monday that center fielder Jake Marisnick was battling “a little bit of left hamstring tightness,” but he is expected to play in today’s intrasquad action at Citi Field and will take at least a couple of at-bats.

Marisnick, Cespedes and Ramos all should be available for the Mets on Friday

So far, just like deGrom, Marisnick’s availability for Friday hasn’t been compromised. He is slated to share center field duties with Brandon Nimmo.

Meanwhile, Mets’ slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who played in two exhibition games against the Yankees on the weekend, said today that he expects to be the team’s designated hitter on Friday against the Braves.

The Cuban star said that he feels good in left field following multiple ankle and heel surgeries in the last two years, but he wasn’t really tested in the weekend, and the only ball batted his way was a home run.

The universal designated hitter rule will allow the Mets to put Cespedes in that spot most nights, provided he can still produce with the bat.

After not reporting to camp since last Friday, catcher Wilson Ramos showed up on Tuesday at Citi Field.

New York Mets: Michael Wacha Dominates Intrasquad Game

New York Mets, Michael Wacha

The New York Mets played another summer camp game to get themselves ready for their weekend exhibition series against the New York Yankees. Michael Wacha stole the show with a terrific pitching performance as he tries to assure the Mets he can fill Noah Syndergaard‘s absence.

Wacha pitched five no-hit innings, which included an extra batter in some of the innings. He struck out four batters on only 69 pitches, with the only baserunner coming on a Dominic Smith error. After the long layoff, the pitchers usually have the upper hand on the hitters. Wacha still looked sharp, his changeup strong as ever, and improved his curveball from 2019.

Any Offense?

Wilson Ramos and Ryan Cordell both added home runs in the matchup. The blue squad defeated the white squad 3-1 but also received encouraging signs just based on the players who could take the field. Jed Lowrie, Yoenis Cespedes, and Robinson Cano both played in the game and came out of it without any issues.

Cano and Cespedes also added hits for the blue team while J.D. Davis recorded the only hit for the white team. Lastly, the Mets release some of their fan cutouts that will be in the stands during the season.

New York Mets: A Training Camp Unlike Any Other

The New York Mets are in the opening stages of their Summer Camp at Citi Field, but it looks more like a shelter in an apocalypse movie. There are masks, hand sanitizers, and every one social distancing from each other.

A usually crowded batting cage is empty, there are marked off sections in the outfield, and the baseballs go through a thorough cleaning after use. Each player and media member also went through screening, and aerobics moved to a well-ventilated room. This is the new normal for baseball in 2020, and even Wilson Ramos said, “It’s hard right now to be here.”

Get Used to It

Because of COVID-19 running rough shot throughout Florida, the Mets have to make something out of every inch of Citi Field. This forces the Mets to have longer days since they are down six fields from their Port St. Lucie complex. They put an extra pitching mound in right-center field, the right field party area is the aerobics room/third weight room, and the exclusive bunting station is down the third base dugout.

There are hand sanitizing dispensers by every station, and conversations were long distance. Reporters are only allowed in the press box, and the stands are empty, which leaves no one to eavesdrop on any discussions. The feeling seemed more like a long ride in an elevator. Music low and everyone keeping from distant from each other.

It is weird to get used to, but at least baseball is beginning to return.

New York Mets: Looking at the Designated Hitter Candidates

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

The designated hitter is here to stay during the 2020 shortened season, and the New York Mets are full of options. From injury-prone stars to bench players who do not have a role, the candidates are endless for the Mets.

Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes is the front runner to be the designated hitter. Reports say he will be fully healthy for Opening Day, and putting him at DH would preserve his legs for the entire season. Over 81 career games as a DH, he is hitting .287/.328/.524 with 18 home runs and 60 runs batted in. Cespedes has the highest potential to carry the team when healthy, and Mets fans would love to see him contribute every day. Despite the injuries, he still possesses a lethal arm in the outfield and is a former Gold Glove winner.

Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith also dealt with injuries during 2019. He lost playing time at first base due to Pete Alonso earning the job for himself. Smith only has one previous game as a DH and but is a potent left-handed hitter. He is coming off his best year in the big leagues, and he is a better option than Cespedes. Considering that Smith will be with the team in 2021, they should be getting him ready for the DH role going forward.

J.D. Davis

It seems J.D. Davis days at third base are limited and is mainly a left fielder. The most likely situation for Davis to end up at DH is if the Mets opt to put Cespedes in left to keep a strong lineup. They could also put Jake Marisnick in center field and put Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto in the corner positions. The main reason Davis could be a DH is due to his defense in the outfield.

Robinson Cano

A healthy Robinson Cano is someone the Mets would like to play all 60 games of the season. At 37-years old, it is unlikely for him to play all of them at second base. To keep him fresh/healthy moving Jeff McNeil to second and Davis to third base would allow the Mets to DH Cano and keep his bat in the lineup. He is still a solid defensive second baseman, so do not expect him to be the everyday DH.

Wilson Ramos

Much like Cano, Wilson Ramos is someone who needs to play in all 60 games. He will not be able to do that at catcher, but the Mets hope to keep their best hitter with runners in scoring position in the lineup. Instead of giving Ramos an entire day off from catching, moving him to DH and putting Tomas Nido/Rene Rivera behind the plate would balance the drop in production from the catching position. Despite the hitting loss, the catching defense would upgrade during Ramos’ turn at DH.

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie has no fit on the roster and is only an option because he has nowhere to play in the field. The last time Lowrie played every day, he was an All-Star, but he has gone a year and a half since the last time he made a starting lineup. The most significant trait for Lowrie as a DH is his switch-hitting ability.

The Mets DH options are abundant, and it would be no surprise if they had the most players swap in at DH throughout the season. Everything is analytics driving in modern baseball, and combining that with keeping players fresh is going to be a major challenge for Luis Rojas in year one.

The New York Mets Should Move On From Wilson Ramos

I understand that the catcher position did get better for the New York Mets as Travis d’Arnaud was shipped off and they brought in Wilson Ramos. Most people will laugh at the title of the post and show me a .288 batting average and 73 runs driven in. They’ll see my Yankee fan status and say “Wilson>Sanchez”. To that I say, you’re misled, you’re wrong, and you have an average catcher at best defensively with an okay offense.

The New York Mets didn’t whiff on the Ramos signing, but he’s definitely not what he was expected to be, and I would not be hesitant to let him go to sign a better catcher in the offseason. Before we get into replacement options though, let’s evaluate Ramos as a player.

Offensively Average

A 105 wRC+, .416 SLG, .351 OBP, with a wOBA of .327 and an xWOBA of .311 is just not that good offensively. He doesn’t have a higher ceiling than an okay hitter who can rack up singles and not do much else offensively. He’s got an average OBP in my opinion because he’s got an average BB%, and that would be fine for a guy like Amed Rosario who can run and would need a spike up to the 8.3% threshold of walks, Ramos needs to have way more walks in my opinion because he’s very one dimensional as a hitter.

People will praise his contact, but I think it’s something that deserves little praise. I’d rather him strikeout 2 times in a night and hit a line-drive double than 2 singles and a groundball that doesn’t do anything because it shows he has power. If he hit .260 and had a .350 OBP but a .470 SLG? He’d be one of the better offensive catchers in baseball, and he’d have a ton more value but not only will he probably not do that, but he’s also aging and so it’s hard to see his power surge.

Is Ramos Really the Defender He’s Made Out to Be?

People don’t call him a really good defender, but no one really calls out how horrible his defense is. Let’s compare two catchers defensively, shall we? To give context we will sue 2018-2019 as one season isn’t enough basis in my opinion to get a really good opinion on a player:

Player A:

rSZ (Strike Zone Runs Saved): -11
rSB (Stolen Base Runs Saved runs above average): -2
FRM (Framing): -9.6
Arm Velocity: 81.9
Rusn Extra Strikes: -7

Player B:

rSZ: 3
rSB: 4
FRM: -4.2
Arm Velocity: 87.25
Runs Extra Strikes: -1

Player A is Wilson Ramos, and what about Player B? This was specifically for the Wilson Ramos>Gary Sanchez believers, Player B is Gary Sanchez defensively. “But what about passed balls!” Well, I would count those if they could account for the pitch thrown on said passed ball but it’s got such little contextual value I didn’t throw it in there, though even if you did, Ramos defensively is outclassed by Sanchez in every other statistical measure as a catcher.

You really mean to tell me that he’s an average hitter and a below-average defender in a position where a good arm is and decent framing can save a game just as much as their bat can if it’s elite is a good enough catcher to be considered top 10? Top 15 even? The New York Mets can do a lot better, and for a price that’d be much lower and give you a ton of value.

Finding a Better Fit

The New York Mets obvious target would be the 2nd best catcher in baseball JT Realmuto. While I know he’s the obvious best catcher on the 2021 FA market, I want to present an interesting candidate that the Mets could snag for cheap if Realmuto isn’t coming to Queens.

Angels’ catcher Jason Castro is a name that no one would think to put over Ramos, but in every statistical measure in 2019  he was a very good catcher. In 79 games he had a higher fWAR than Ramos who played 144, meaning that while he played less, he provided the most total value to the team. He had a 103 wRC+ and slashed .232/.332/.435 which on the surface is worse than Ramos, but his xSLG was .521 meaning he seriously underperformed in 2019. Where he stands out is in fantastic defense where he posted a 2 Runs Extra Strikes, -2 rSB, and 3.2 FRM in merely 79 games.

Do I think he’s a better fit than Ramos? Yes, 100%, the Mets would be getting an okay offensive catcher but I’m fine with the Mets losing a little offensively but gaining a fantastic defender who can frame because the Mets offensive attack is elite. Outside of Amed Rosario (who I think can improve) and Wilson Ramos, they have above-average offense in every other position.

The New York Mets need that defensive anchor at backstop, and if they want their pitching and bullpen to improve, they’ll land a defensive catcher with average offense over slightly above-average offense and horrible defense.

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: What will the future hold for Wilson Ramos?

The New York Mets, despite losing star pitcher Noah Syndergaard to Tommy John surgery, are expected to be contenders in 2020. They sure are expecting that there is a season because they won’t want to waste the last year of Marcus Stroman and Yoenis Cespedes’ deals, not to mention another year of deGrom’s prime and Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, JD Davis and others’ cheap contract years.

In fact, after the 2020 season, it will be decision time for the front office. Besides the mentioned contracts that will be coming off the books, plus a few more, the Mets will need to decide whether to keep starting catcher Wilson Ramos or let him walk.

Before the 2019 season, the New York Mets signed Ramos for two years plus a $10 million option for 2021. If they let him go, they will pay him a $1.5 million buyout.

For a player known as an offensive catcher, Ramos didn’t have the best of seasons in 2019. He was far from an embarrassment, don’t get me wrong, but he knows he can do better than a .288/.351/.416 line with 14 homers in 524 plate appearances.

The average and the OBP are more than fine, especially for a backstop, but that slugging percentage was the lowest since 2015.

Will the Mets get defensive?

Defensive metrics didn’t speak too highly about the Mets’ regular catcher, and neither did some of the rotation’s top arms, most notably Syndergaard. They said they preferred to pitch to Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera (both superior options with the glove.) That appears to be on the rearview mirror, however, especially after reports that Ramos has been working hard to improve his game behind the plate.

The Mets have some catching prospects near the majors, such as Ali Sanchez and Patrick Mazeika, but they don’t exactly profile as top-flight regulars. The best of the bunch is Francisco Alvarez, but he is far away down the ladder, still.

So what will the Mets do with Ramos? He is not precisely young, as he will be 33 in a couple of months. If the Phillies don’t sign JT Realmuto to a long-term extension, the Mets could be players, as he is set to enter free agency after the season.

Only time will tell.

New York Mets: Spring Training Facility Reopened

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The negotiations between the MLB and the Players Association continue but the New York Mets are getting themselves back in business. For the first time since March, their Spring Training facilities in Port St. Lucie are finally open.

They join another group of teams who reopened their facilities in hopes of baseball resuming in 2020. It is only open to players who “reside locally.” This includes Jeff McNeil, Michael Wacha, and Wilson Ramos who spend time training there on Tuesday.

Buffalo Back in Action

Ramos has been one of the most active Mets on social media throughout the break from baseball. He figured out ways to keep active at home and looks to be in good shape for baseball’s eventual return. As the rest of the country continues to open up we are getting closer and closer to sports returning. The negotiations on the season are the only thing holding it back.

The baseball coverage around the country projects as much shorter than expected. This will increase the urgency to be ready as an above-average record might not be enough to earn a postseason birth in a sub-60 game season.