I am very excited about the Mets this year. Brody van Wagenen has made his presence known. Three things in particular stand out to me.
ONE. The Cano trade with Seattle. The Mets Acquired Cano, Diaz and $20m for 5 players, including Jay Bruce ($13m p/yr). Cano is owed $24m a year thru 2023. He is 36 and is a Hall of Fame quality player at the back end of his career. I expect him to not only produce in the middle of the lineup (25+ HR, 285+ AVG) but also, as has been reported so far this year, be a mentor and leader in the clubhouse. I love his addition to this lineup.
As important as Cano is, Diaz is a HUGE addition. This guy was the best closer last year. IMHO. 57 saves. 1.96 ERA. 124 SO in 73 innings. That’s 15.2 strikeouts per 9 innings, while only walking 2. So relax Met fans, because the 9th inning is secure. His addition made this trade possible. No way the Mets take on Cano’s salary without getting this premier closer. Love, love, love this guy.
TWO. Bringing Pete Alonso with the team from Florida. He and Dominic Smith both played well this spring. Both made the team. While Smith does not excite me, Pete Alonso does. He led all minor league players last year in homers (39) and RBI (119). His career minor league slash line is 290/381/560/941. That is impressive. Just for comparison, Smith is 296/361/426/787. The 381 OBP tells me he has plate discipline. 560 SLG tells me he has power. Those numbers indicate we could be seeing the birth of an All Star quality player. We can only hope.
THREE. The team first approach. Instead of trying to do damage with every pitch, the approach is asking yourself, “What can I do to help the team in this at bat?” Hernandez, Cohen and Darling discussed it during the opening day broadcast. Not only the Mets, but a minor trend in MLB. What they didn’t mention is that the last two World Series champs (HOU and BOS) played this way. In fact Boston’s manager Joey Cora made some sarcastic comments aimed at the rest of the league criticizing players concentrating on launch angles and hitting the ball into the upper decks on every pitch. Forget getting on base. Forget moving players into scoring position. Forget scoring players from third with less than two outs. Forget hitting the other way against the shift. Just hit the crap out of it.
This is how baseball works. Someone succeeds and everyone else tries to mimic their success, Take the reliever craze. Andrew Miller has a great post season for Cleveland in 2016 and all of a sudden, relievers are getting $10m to $20m a year. Just paying a guy $10m a year doesn’t guarantee he is going to be good. The Giants signed Mark Melancon to a 4yr, $62m contract in 2017. So far, they have not received $15m a year results from him. (3.86 ERA over 69 innings for the last two years). Doing the little things, the appropriate things as the game presents them is the method with the least risk. When you add great talent, its an unstoppable train. Betts and Martinez last year for Boston. Altuve and Bregman for Houston in 2017.
Let’s hope the Mets can stick to that approach this year. Let’s also hope that Conforto can step up and be the player he has the potential to be. Let’s hope Zack Wheeler can be the pitcher he was in the second half last year. Let’s hope Syndegard can be Syndegard. Let’s hope Cespedes can remain on course and return after the All Star break. Let’s hope McNeil can take a step forward. Let’s hope Pete Alonso is for real. If some of that happens, it will be a fun year for Mets fans.