In Episode 1344 of Effectively Wild, Ben, Sam, and Meg answered a listener email that was presumably addressed to Ben and Jeff, because the listener, Dario, had not consumed any current baseball news since the end of the World Series.
He does not know about the change in hosts of that podcast. He doesn’t know about Brodie Van Wagenen, or Robinson Cano, or where Bryce Harper went. He has no idea about 3-batter minimums or that the Long Island Ducks are going to move the mound back.
Until tomorrow, when he breaks his fast with the first Mets game of the year, which he just so happens to be live streaming.
I find this fascinating. All these dribbles of excitement we’ve gotten over the offseason will be piled on him at once. Gary will introduce the pitching matchup, which will probably not come as a huge surprise to Dario. Scherzer and deGrom. The news that deGrom is the Cy Young award winner will come as joy, but it’s unlikely that’s a huge surprise to anyone that watched him last year. That he’s been extended to a nice contract on the other hand–That will certainly amplify that joy.
I’m most interested in how good Dario thinks this team is. He hasn’t been watching the projections go up and down all offseason, or scrutinizing every fringe move from the four teams in the NL East. He’ll just have his impressions of the roster and how the players that are currently playing look.
I plan to ask Dario a couple of questions after Opening Day to get his impressions, so stay tuned for that.
Mets Spring Training games are here! Let’s get excited!
Today’s beer of the game is a local jersey brewery, Carton. G.O.R.P. or Good Old Raisins and Peanuts isn’t quite peanuts and Cracker Jack, but it’ll do.
This beer is a solid brown ale with a nutty peanut butter taste and some dark fruit sweetness hidden underneath. It comes in rather strong, something we hope the Mets will do when the season rolls around.
Let’s drink some beer, watch some baseball, and get pumped!
I’m excited for 2019 as it should be a fun year for the Mets. They’ve made a lot of changes this offseason, and while they could’ve done, and still could do, more they trimmed a lot of the bad players off the depth chart and continue to have one of the best rotations in baseball.
This division looks to be pretty competitive. The Braves surprised and won it last year, and while they’re projected for third you could reasonably expect that to be unfair based off last year’s results. The Phillies showed some promise, and while they’re projected for 4th, you could argue that they have a lot of potential there that faded in the second half last year. The Nationals are still on top by a few games, but they’ve shown themselves to be underperformers.
The Mets come in at 85-86 wins in Fangraphs projections right now. PECOTA says 88, with the Nationals at 89. Both have the Mets pitching staff as top flight.
Whichever way it breaks, it appears that all four teams have a reasonably similar shots of winning the division. That means a lot of head to head matchups. Lots of scoreboard watching. Lots of tweaking rotations to get favorable matchups. Lots of battles for first place. Lots of competing trade deadline machinations. All that adds up to a rather fun season.
This headline is clickbait, there a ton of reasons to covet Manny Machado over virtually everyone else, but those are obvious, and less interesting to write about. Machado is awesome, he fits the Mets very well, and they should absolutely try to sign him. Alas, all 29 other teams are also aware of this guy, and the Mets could seriously pursue him and still not get him.
The big risk with Donaldson is that he’ll be 33 and had a bad and injured season. You could read into that as the end of the line for him as a useful player, it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing. You definitely have to give him his physical, look at the underlying numbers, do your due diligence. If you find a red flag, balk, but if you don’t, he could be a huge addition.
Donaldson was a late bloomer, and floundered a bit his rookie year at age 26 in 2012, but after that he’s been among the best in baseball. Last season was hampered by injury, but he was traded to Cleveland and mashed much like he’s mashed in the past. It was a small 60 plate appearance sample, but all the peripheral stats seem to support him being much like himself.
He’s a great hitter, he’s got power, he walks a bunch, he makes a lot of solid contact. He’s not fast, but he’s not a base-clogger. He plays good defense. He’s not exclusively a pull-hitter, shifts don’t seem to hurt him too much. He’s a righty, which plays nicely with the Mets having a lot of lefties providing their power right now.
MLB Trade Rumors is predicting the Cardinals will sign him for $20 million, one year. That seems like a steal. Crowd-sourced predictions at Fangraphs have him signing for 3/58, which could still be a steal if Donaldson puts up even something less than his career line. If he’d simply stayed healthy and had an average year, he’d be getting mentioned with Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
Steamer projections have him just a tick off his average, at 4.6 fWAR for 2019. Even if he continued to decline from there, getting 10 or so WAR from Donaldson over three years would be worth 60 million, easy.
Donaldson might want to try to have a healthy season and jump back into the fray, but Nolan Arenado will be a free agent next year and Donaldson would be a year older too. Perhaps Donaldson could be the right target while other teams are focused on Machado, and maybe Donaldson takes one option off the board for teams looking for shorter term 3B options, raising possible demand for a Todd Frazier trade.
Oh, and Donaldson’s twitter handle is BringerOfRain, which is cool.
I searched the internet so you didn’t have to, to find anything interesting about the new Mets GM, Brodie Van Wagenen.
Information has always been power in any industry and it is certainly true in baseball and contract negotiations,” says Van Wagenen. “The people that are capable of analyzing that data in a more sophisticated way are the people that have had the opportunity to succeed.
Seems fairly analytical to me?
Robbins and outfielder Brodie Van Wagenen, a self-described Los Angeles “Valley Boy” with meticulously gelled hair that earned him the nickname “Do Man,”
Do Man? This was the team he was on with Astro’s manager AJ Hinch. The Tabloids could have a field day with this one.
Recently, we worked with a client who did not enter free agency after his best statistical season,” Van Wagenen says. “We used complex analysis to recreate the player’s statistical profile in order to more accurately demonstrate his future potential. This convinced two teams to enter the process that had not previously been engaged, resulting in more options for a client.
Another quote that certainly seems to suggest Van Wagenen is going to be open and eager to work with his analytics department and value Sabermetric thinkings.
I’m excited to see what Van Wagenen gets up to here. It should be an interesting offseason and I expect we’ll know a lot more about the new GM come Spring.
Sometimes when I’m working I put on those long 10 hour loops of Youtube videos that are “10 hours of people talking quietly” or “10 hours of a fireplace burning” or “10 hours of Kass playing the accordion”
I was thinking of things to search for last week and tried “10 hours of Meet the Mets” but it didn’t exist. So I figured I should make one.
This isn’t quite that, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy anyway. Five hours, to honor David Wright, of Meet the Mets.
David Wright is returning at the end of this season for, probably, just one game, and maybe not even a full one. The spinal stenosis and related injuries have wrecked his back to the point that it’s a constant companion, and one that has made it so doing the one thing he loves more than anything, playing baseball, is agony.
That sucks. On so many levels. David has meant so much to the team, to the fans, to baseball in general. I’ll miss him quite a bit, now that he’s officially not coming back. He’s been a part of the Mets routine for so long that it’s hard to wrap my head around the idea of him not being out there somewhere, swinging a bat and making great plays at third. He was a Met before I had even had my first real job, long ago.
It’s crazy to think about how the game has changed since then. The Mets no longer play at Shea Stadium. There’s Twitter, and Smartphone apps, and hell, smartphones. When Wright debuted, MLB TV was still very new, and Moneyball had just come out the previous year. Fangraphs did not exist. Amed Rosario was eight years old.
David Wright was a Hall of Fame caliber player, and he was ours. I think about him hitting these last few years, with the juiced ball that seems to particularly favor the type of hard-contact, gap-hitting player that David Wright is was, and I lament that we didn’t get to see him putting up what surely would’ve been a few more MVP caliber seasons that would’ve cemented his Hall of Fame case. We’ve spent David’s career watching him climb over and take every Mets record imaginable, and he’s been stuck so close to taking that Home Run title from Darryl Strawberry for so long that it’s been agony.
But mostly, I’m just sad for David Wright. By all accounts a great guy that loves playing this game and now he’ll struggle to even play some token innings at the end of a lost season. This isn’t how it was supposed to go.
The Subway Series is here and once again the Mets approach it from a deficit that saps the fun. The Mets are up against a losing streak and desperately need to get on a roll, and the opponent really doesn’t factor in that. You can’t really savor a rivalry if you’re too preoccupied with your own stuff.
That said, the best outfielder in New York will be playing for the home team this weekend, and Yankees fans will get a chance to watch him play. I’m talking about, of course, Brandon Nimmo.
Thanks to a stacked outfield with more veteran players, Nimmo has not had the playing time to technically qualify for the leaderboards, but his 167 PA is a reasonably large sample size on the season and his wRC+ of 162 would place him as the third best hitter in the NL behind Matt Kemp and Freddie Freeman.
I know it’ll be pointed out that Aaron Judge also has a wRC+ of 162, but Nimmo’s OBP is a little higher plus his BABIP is a little lower. Judge has a few more home runs but plays in Yankee Stadium and has 100 more plate appearances. Nimmo also has twice as many stolen bases and is a better base runner in general.
Hopefully you realize this post is somewhat tongue in cheek and simply good rivalry fodder, but I’ll end by saying that Aaron Judge is huge so Brandon Nimmo clearly provides more value per inch.
It’s been rough hasn’t it? Luckily, the season is still pretty young. Let’s try to find Mets players to latch to as reasons the Mets will be better going forward.
Let’s start with Amed Rosario. Our top prospect guy who didn’t suddenly appear and set the league on fire as happened, so far, for teams like the Yankees and Braves. So far. It’s early, remember. A month of mashing does not mean a decade of success is eminent for anyone.
Amed Rosario still isn’t walking enough, but he has walked twice in the last few days. Once as a pinch-hitter, which is hopeful for a guy that seems to get over-aggressive even when he has four or five AB in a game. He’s also hitting the ball hard. The more of the beginning season you cut off, the better his numbers look. It’s been a slow climb, but he’s starting to contribute with more than just defense. His talent will continue to manifest as he learns and adjusts, and hopefully he gets a little more patient as well.
Michael Conforto is an easy one. He came back earlier than expected and had a good initial few games and then slumped a bit. While he slumped he was still getting on base via walks, which I always find to be a trait in the really good hitters. Carlos Beltran was this way a lot. He’s starting to drive the ball now and get comfortable, which will be make him a real threat going forward.
Brandon Nimmo has been great all year, at times being near the top in baseball in wRC+. He’s almost definitely not _that_ good, but enough time has passed that it seems obvious that he’s a very good baseball player and should be playing more. It feels like the media, and maybe the Mets too, have finally started to take note.
Devin Mesoraco is better than Matt Harvey, who’s still not missing bats and walking too many, so that’s an upgrade. He was always a guy with talent that maybe hadn’t realized it, and so far he’s thriving here with the Mets. He won’t continue at this pace, but Kevin Plawecki is back now too, and Plawecki has been pretty good this season and last, and has a good eye at the plate. At the very least this means they don’t have a hole at catcher in the lineup, and it helps keep the offense moving.
I’m always hesitant to bank on guys coming back from injuries soon to necessarily do so, but the Mets have a few guys starting rehab games which should mean they’re almost back. Getting Todd Frazier and Yoenis Cespedes back will help the offense a lot, and Anthony Swarzak will hopefully be a nice add to the bullpen.
The Mets have two of the best starting pitchers in the game, but they’ve managed to queue up some of the worse bullpen performances of the year behind them. Logic states that this is just a lot of bad luck, and as the season progresses it’ll even out, and Mickey Callaway will start to have more trust, and more arms, to use in better spots. An improving offense building bigger leads will help too. Callaway’s bullpen management should adjust as the innings mount and relievers show him who can and cannot be trusted. This should pay off down the road.
Wheeler’s actually been better than it seems, and has been one of the victims of some bad defense. He’s given up a few too many home runs, and walked a few too many guys. Some of that’s fly ball luck, some of it might just be something that we have to live with, but he strikes guys out and is due for some more of those bounces to find gloves instead of glance off them.
The Mets rotation problems have mainly been pitchers absolutely bombing, and it’s hard to see that continue for long. Technically, Jason Vargas is a lot better than he’s shown, even if he’s not particularly good. He’s pretty much what you’d call a veteran journeyman though, and if he can tweak whatever the problem is and give the Mets a stretch of decent starts, that’d go a long way. Stephen Matz has been wild, but even last year this wasn’t the case. If he settles down and starts executing better, he should at least be serviceable.
The Mets still have a lot of potential, even if it feels like they’re squandering some of their best chances right now with heartbreaking walk-off losses. Things will pick up soon, let’s just hope they pick up soon enough, and long enough, to catch and pass the Nationals again.