Time For The Mets To Extend Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard, if you’re still reading about the Mets at this point, is a hot topic of trade rumors these days. These seem to be real rumors too, and not the clickbait ones SNY was peddling in Spring Training. While turning pitchers into prospects if you can get excess value is usually a good bet given the fragile nature of pitchers, particularly hard throwing ones that haven’t had Tommy John surgery, I think the better play is to extend him, not trade him.

The Mets control Syndergaard for two more years after this one. He has a career 3.21 ERA and accumulated 17.1 fWAR so far. Speaking of WAR, it’s at 2.7 this season. That’s 21st in baseball. (Jacob deGrom is 7th and Zack Wheeler is 25th) The ERAs aren’t as sparkling as last year, but at least with Syndergaard, a lot of that can be chalked up to two things. The juiced ball, and defense.

Syndergaard’s HR rate has spiked, as has literally everyone’s with the way the ball is these days. He’s on record saying he’s struggled to get the same grip on it as he has in previous years. It’s something he knows to work on, and sometimes does seem to have better success, and it’s also something that might be corrected if there’s any correction to the ball in 2020. It’d be foolish to plan on that correcting, but Thor’s still providing a lot of value despite it, and a correction can only help pitchers. You’d also hate to pull a Daniel Murphy, and trade him only to have the ball change in his favor afterwards.

The other thing that’s hurt Syndergaard is LOB%, the percentage of baserunners he strands. This is a stat that’s mostly out of the pitcher’s control, though obviously higher strikeout pitchers will tend to strand more runners. Syndergaard is 31st of qualified pitchers with a 23.8 K%, which is above the starting pitcher league average 22.3. Thor has the 10th worst LOB% of qualified pitchers at 68.1%, and Zack Wheeler is 5th worse. League average is 72%. Defense can kill this, allowing a lower percentage of balls in play to become outs.

So Noah Syndergaard is a really good pitcher still, and could be even better. He’s under team control. This is only his age 26 season. That’s the kind of guy you want on your team. I don’t know what Thor would be looking for in a contract extension. He’s previously shown to be very cognizant of how underpaid MLB players are pre-free agency, so perhaps he’s not willing to give away any of that. Still, if you can pay him more for 2020 and 2021 to buy 2022 and possible more, it’d be hard to believe a trade package could be worth more than Syndergaard himself, barring a spring 2020 Tommy John surgery that cancels is 2020 and 2021 season, but that could just as easily happen to the pitcher the Mets would have to acquire to replace him.

The Mets should absolutely listen to offers on any player they have that can garner something big in return, and measure the odds of that making the team better both in 2020 and beyond, but it’s hard to see the Mets getting a return that has a high-probability of out-performing Noah Syndergaard himself. Keep him, extend him and enjoy him. 


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Is The Mets Road Trip Salvagable?

The Mets have not been playing good baseball lately.  This poor play brings up debate and questions about what exactly the problems are.  Is it an easy fix? Something that takes time, money, or trade? 
Could it be the managing?
Maybe.  Jerry Manuel is not a good manager.  He’s operating as a lame-duck manager and as Steve Popper remarked today, A manager that everyone in the clubhouse suspects is not here for the long haul may lose a little authority in the dealing with long term situations such as standing up to Jose Reyes and being the final authority on if he is in the lineup.  The flip side of this is the question of whether Manuel’s lack of authority in such situations is what led to his job security being as tenous as it is in the first place.
Manuel seems inept at managing road games or close games, often burning outs with useless bunts, refusing to use his best pitchers on the road or burning through the bullpen at record pace.  Still, the Mets have the talent and ability to win games, and if enough games are going to come down to the point where they are won or lost on a misguided bunt call in the third inning, the Mets probably won’t win enough games for it to matter.
Is it the offense?
Some fans are thinking so.  Some seem to have given up on Beltran and Bay, and point out that the pitching has rarely kept the Mets out of games.  Surely if players like Bay continue to underperform, the Mets will not win.  However it’s probably safer to say Jason Bay will hit more like the 1000 games before he became a Met, than the 90 or so this year.  Beltran has returned, one of the most talented players in the game, and while we’re still not sure what effect the brace and lingering bone bruises are going to have on his overall play it’s safe to say he’s a solid upgrade over Jeff Francoeur.  Castillo will return soon and put up a respectable OBP that provides more run scoring opportunities.  Reyes will be back in the lineup and allow us to send Tejada back to Buffalo for more seasoning.   It’s easy to get worked up over slumps and scoring droughts, but the Mets offense overall is pretty good. 
How about the pitching?
Behind Johan, one of the best second half pitchers ever, the Mets currently have Pelfrey, Niese, Dickey and Takahashi.  Dickey has been wonderful, and Niese is contributing as well.  Mike Pelfrey’s struggling with a little bit of a slump, but he’ll fight out of it and win games for the Mets in the second half.  Takahashi has struggled, looking more suited for a long relief type role out of the bullpen.  This would be the obvious place to upgrade on the team, and rumors are that Omar is indeed looking for something that won’t cost the farm, but I’m not convinced the pitching is keeping the Mets out of games.  In fact they’ve been in most games, rarely getting blown out or finding themselves down six runs in the seventh inning.  Takahashi has had some bad starts, but he’s also had some good ones.  Johan even had a couple of bad starts in the first half. 
Injuries.
The Mets injuries, coupled with some slumps, are what’s causing the recent struggles.  Some of the other categories may be making it worse such as Jason Bay slumping or Takahashi having a poor outing, but overall it’s the injury to Luis Castillo forcing us to play lesser or unready players in Cora and Tejada.  It’s Reyes slow recovery from the strained oblique.  It’s Beltrans bone bruises keeping him out the entire first half.  Ike Davis went through a typical rookie slump, but after two home runs last night may be coming out of it.  You can’t get much worse than Rod Barajas lately, and he may be forcing Jerry’s hand in using Thole more, who has done nothing but hit while he’s been on the Mets.

 

It’s easy to overreact to slumps and scoring droughts, but the Mets have the talent to make the playoffs this year.   There is a lot of time left, including plenty of games left against the division leading Braves.  Destiny is in their own hands.  Beltran is getting up to speed, Jose Reyes is supposedly just about recovered, and Luis Castillo is set to return by next weekend.  Johan’s a second half pitcher, more help may be on the way, and Ike Davis may rebound from his first major slump a better player.  The second half of the season is going to be very exciting, and I can’t wait.

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Best 2009 Mets Acquisition

Without a doubt, the best acquisition the Mets made in 2009 was Citi Field. Given all the problems and the Mets going nowhere, the one new thing this year that helped sooth the pain and will continue to be there year after year is Citi Field.

From Citifield

The stadium was there for all 81 games is was schedule to host, which is more than most Mets can say. It’s a great place to watch a game, and my biggest regret is the season died too fast to really get a feel for how it handles the big game, and what that energy would feel like. There’s great standing room only spots, including the bridge out in center field. We got to keep the Home Run Apple; If only the whole ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ had worked for the Mets this year. Maybe that’s the problem. They certainly didn’t get the Apple to pop up every game.

From Citifield

Mobility and visibility are one of the big pluses of Citi Field. No matter where you are in Citi Field, you’re rarely a few steps from being able to see the field. It’s easy to get around the park as well. It has 360 degree mobility so that if you’re in the right field promenade you don’t have to circle the entire stadium to visit someone or something in left field reserved. You can do it without having to fight through crowded aisles or concourses, or puddles of water or vendors and janitors pushing pallets of trash or frozen burgers through the area. While it’s crowded, I have yet to encounter the type of gridlock that was prevalent at Shea Stadium. With the exception of the middle level club seats you can get to any part of the stadium with any ticket. I wish there were a center field exit to the Pepsi Porch, but I’ll live with it.

From Citifield

The food, beer and distractions available at Citi Field are great. I do agree that the focus should be on the game, but if I wanted to zone out and stare at the game, I could stay home too. I want to immerse myself in the stadium, the crowd, the beer and the food. I want to do it without missing the game, and Citi Field allows me to do this without missing whole innings, something that was common at Shea.

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