Nimmo puts a stronghold on CF; Updated Lineup.

A couple of days ago, Corné and myself were talking about exactly this on The Mets Junkies Podcast and it looks like someone is listening. Well, probably not, but Corné confidently called it.

Like many others, I had Starling Marte slated to be the Mets opening day center fielder, at least for the 2022 campaign. However, it turns out not to be the case. Marte confirmed with reporters on Tuesday that he plans to be playing right field.

The newly acquired outfielder has been taking it light since arriving to camp, as he’s nursing a minor oblique injury. However, he has been slightly turning it up, as we get closer and closer to Opening Day.

This should come as a vote of confidence for Brandon Nimmo, as he’s made huge strides defensively. Not only will he captain the outfield, but the Wyoming native could be poised to lead off for the Mets, as well.

It’s been no secret that Brandon Nimmo is open to working on an extension that would keep him in Orange & Blue for a long while.

  1. Brandon Nimmo – L – CF
  2. Starling Marte – R – RF
  3. Francisco Lindor – S – SS
  4. Pete Alonso – R – 1B
  5. Robinson Cano – L – DH
  6. Eduardo Escobar – S – 3B
  7. Jeff McNeil – L – 2B
  8. Mark Canha – R – LF
  9. James McCann – R – C

Corné’s Cut:

As mentioned on the Podcast, playing Nimmo as our main center fielder is a no brainer to me. Here is the thing. Marte has been a solid center fielder and is definitely the more flashy outfielder to watch, I totally get that. But if you look at the metrics from last year, the younger Nimmo outplayed Marte by 1 OAA.

While that isn’t a large gap by any means, it’s worth noting that OAA is a range factored stat and with Nimmo having less Spring Speed, he still had better range. So what happens when Marte loses a step?

Another important part of this decision is that I like to want to keep Nimmo as a Met. A lot of fans want. I do believe Nimmo wants to be a center fielder and he wil leave the Mets and play center somewhere else.

Nimmo is a true center fielder and we should acknowledge that.

Photo Credit: New York Mets

Alonso gets in wreck, then named the 6th best first baseman in Majors

Mets star first baseman Pete Alonso had a near death experience on Monday morning while heading to the team’s complex. The slugger said in an interview that his car flipped over about three times in an accident, leaving Alonso shook but also grateful.

Every day’s a gift. Man, today’s really special for me,” the 2019 home run champ said. “I just had a blast out there today, doing work, seeing everybody. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier showing up to Spring Training. It’s truly amazing how I’m here. I’m so fortunate that everyone’s ok.” Alonso conceded the incident inflicted “a lot of emotional toll” but noted he’s “here, happy and healthy.”

While he reiterates that he’s fine and should be good going forward in regards to his health, I’m sure Mets management is keeping a close eye on their clean-up hitter.

Also Read: Is Freddie Freeman a Good Fit for the Mets?

Later on that same evening, MLB Network ranked the 27-year old as the 6th best first baseman on MLB Now, landing him in the midst of some pretty impeccable talent.

In 1366 at-bats, Alonso has 63 doubles, 106 home runs and 249 RBI’s. This gives him an average of 28 doubles, 46 home runs, and 109 RBI’s per every 162 games.

However, Baseball-Reference.com projects the former Rookie of Year to slug 24 doubles, 35 home runs, with 87 RBI’s in the upcoming 2022 season. That would be a substantial drop in the power department from his 162 game average.

Photo Credit: Haley Alonso

J.T. Ginn gets Promotion

Last year’s second round pick, pitcher J.T. Ginn has been promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones from the St. Lucie Mets.

This jump is a natural one in progress as the right-hander is going from “Low-A” to “High-A” after pitching to a 2.56 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP while striking out 35 batters in 38.2 innings pitched in the Florida State League.

Source: Tim Healey

Is Sean Reid-Foley Taking Lucchesi’s Spot in The Rotation?

Sean Reid-Foley struck everyone with his stellar performance in Chicago. Reid-Foley pitched three impressive innings against a hot Cubs offense, and it caught a lot of eyeballs. Between the Kimbrel-esque squat to the swings and misses, he had everything working in that first outing.

He got the call in that first outing because of a rough start from Joey Lucchesi. Lucchesi had motored through the order the first time around, but the second trip gave him troubles. It was clear to most that the Cubs had figured him out, which made it tough to leave him in for a long time. This opened the door for the newly called up Sean-Reid Foley to make his Major League debut.

The day after the game, Lucchesi was optioned to the alternate site. The Mets followed by bringing up Stephen Tarpley, who pitched in yesterday’s game. Tarpley struggled yesterday, and will probably be sent to the alternate site as well if he continues to pitch that way. But, why is nobody talking about what will happen when Lucchesi’s spot in the rotation comes around?

Most of us probably assumed that Lucchesi will just be called back up for his next start. But what if he isn’t? What if the plan is for Sean Reid-Foley, a natural starter, to get a start? Reid-Foley was dominant in his first outing, and clearly turned some heads. It is early enough in the season that it would make sense to give a guy like him a chance. He impressed many, and might have even impressed enough to make his first Major League start.

The one issue with all of this; the Mets are skipping Lucchesi’s spot in the rotation this week because they have an off day on Monday. Because of this, they are rolling with an extra bullpen arm in the slot of Lucchesi.

That still doesn’t mean that Reid-Foley won’t be getting a starting opportunity some time in the near future, but it also could mean that the Mets simply wanted another lefty reliever in the bullpen.

Regardless of what happens, keep your eye out on how much Sean Reid-Foley pitches in the upcoming week. The possibility of a future start could be high.

Here’s what the Mets offered Lindor

Recently we found out that Steve Cohen and Francisco Lindor enjoyed a night out at a restaurant, a lot of speculation has arisen since. However, thankfully Andy Martino was able to gain a “pretty accurate” figure, according to a source.

The offer was for $325M over a 10-year stretch, which is more than double from when David Wright signed his franchise setting contract. Of course, Wright’s deal was an extension and was for $138M over the course of an eight-year period.

Jon Heyman is also reporting that this will be the final offer from the Mets to Lindor.

It’s unclear if there were any opt-outs included, but I imagine so. I’m not sure if Lindor is holding out for a bigger offer from the Mets, or if he’s just dead set on entering free agency.

While all of us fans are ecstatic to have Lindor manning down shortstop all year long, we’re also eager to see a long-term come about. Yes, there’s going to be a few shortstops hitting the market after this season, I’m not sure any of them are as exciting as Lindor is.

Will the Mets switch it up for Lindor?

It seems as if New York Mets manager Luis Rojas wants to find the perfect spot in the lineup for the newly acquired superstar Francisco Lindor. It’s possible that both sides have found that spot for Lindor and it’s looking like it’s in the number two hole.

Now I think it’s important to remember here that Lindor has spent a lot of time either leading off, or batting in the three-spot. So this is more of a rare occurrence for Francisco.

With Brandon Nimmo having an incredible spring, the Mets may want to lead off with the extremely well disciplined outfielder. Especially since Lindor is an MVP caliber player that has the potential to hit 30+ home runs during this upcoming season.

Nimmo won’t steal a ton of bags while leading off but it’s also becoming less likely that Lindor can keep up with his previous stolen bases numbers. So the plus here is that Nimmo is top five in the league in OBP and Lindor has the great ability to split outfielders and even clear the fence.

But what do the Mets do when the ops throw a left-handed pitcher on the bump? Pillar should be able to handle the lead off spot, at least on a short term basis but it would be great to see Nimmo succeed against lefties as well.

The Mets can even push Lindor up to the lead off spot, however doing so, the team will lose an important switch hitter in the two-hole.

If the team can find a steady lead-off batter without having to go to Lindor, the Mets will put themselves in a great position. It’s incredibly tough when you put your superstar player like Lindor, who’s also a shortstop, in the lead-off spots.

It’s not like the two-whole is so much easier, but leading off a game is a compartmentalized to getting on base. That’s what Nimmo specializes in, and he’s not yet a $20M player that should have more responsibilities.

The luxury here is that if it doesn’t work with Nimmo, the Mets could then potentially experiment with the likes of McNeil, possibly Jonathan Villar, or worst case scenario just go to Lindor.

This is all good news, the Mets don’t have to rely on one lead-off player just yet. There are a few interchangeable parts within this lineup and you know what, that kind of reminds me of 1986.

Who Fills Carlos Carrasco’s Spot in the Rotation?

With the injury today of Carlos Carrasco, there becomes two major questions: will he be ready to go for the first turn in the rotation, and if not, who takes his place?

Earlier this morning, March 18, the Mets announced that Carlos Carrasco has a strained hamstring. This injury could take varying amounts of time. Until we have more clarity about how long this will sideline the starting pitcher, we have to wonder who will take his rotation if he is not ready for opening day. Carrasco is currently awaiting the results of an MRI, which should provide more answers.

(THIS IS ALL ASSUMING HE IS HURT ON OPENING DAY)

The Rotation Right Now

  1. Jacob DeGrom
  2. Marcus Stroman
  3. Carlos Carrasco (INJURED)
  4. Taijuan Walker
  5. David Peterson

There was a lot of discussion as to whether David Peterson would be the five starter for the Mets on opening day, but now there is no question that he will be in the rotation.

The primary question now, is who will be the new number five? This is where the depth the Mets acquired in the off-season finally pays off.

The Candidates

The candidates are players that I believe have earned the right to be in this spot, not just any starting pitcher eligible.

Jordan Yamamoto

Jordan Yamamoto has been overly impressive this Spring. Yamamoto, 25, has pitched in 3 games this spring. He has pitched to a 1.08 ERA with a 0.960 WHIP over 8.1 IP. Granted, it is Spring Training, but Spring Training right now is the best evaluator of how he will pitch this season. I believe he has earned the right to be in the starting rotation, but there are still more pitchers to overview.

Robert Gsellman?

The main reason I have a question mark next to Gsellman’s name is because I’m not sure if he is ready to be a starter, or if the Mets want him to be. However, Gsellman has been having a good Spring. He hasn’t started yet, but was a starter at the beginning of his career with the Mets. He has pitched to a 2.25 ERA over 4 IP so far in Spring Training. The main issue is his WHIP- 1.750. He has given up six hits in those four innings, which leads to concerns about his ability to be a solid pitcher, let alone a starter. Either way, there should be a discussion had because of his past as a starter on the team.

Joey Lucchesi

The Mets three-team trade pickup has been dominant this Spring. He has pitched in 5 innings through two games, and has not given up a run. He also has been keeping people off base, with a 0.600 WHIP. The only baserunners he has allowed have come on three walks. Lucchesi has also struck out seven batters this spring. I think Lucchesi has a very good chance at cracking the rotation. He has a similar past in the Majors to Yamamoto, and has looked better in the Spring. The other thing that is in Lucchesi’s favor is his arm. He is a left-handed pitcher, something the Mets are always yearning to have more of. Having David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi in the rotation back-to-back would be tough for opponents. This is because teams normally need to change up their batting order to tackle a lefty.

Mike Montgomery

Montgomery is an interesting one. Another lefty, Montgomery has past starting experience. However, the Mets initial plan with him was to be a bullpen depth piece. That being said, the opportunity for him to start has to be discussed. He has only pitched in two games this Spring, but Luis Rojas said that they intend to stretch him out. Doing so allows the Mets to see how he will handle starting, and pitching long into games.

Corey Oswalt

This is a name that will probably confuse people. Oswalt is also the most high-risk high-reward player here. He was unbelievably dominant in his first and only outing of the Spring. He threw two innings, didn’t give up a baserunner, and struck out five. Those are numbers that someone would expect from Jacob DeGrom. Oswalt obviously needs more opportunities in the Spring, but those numbers normally would make him a clear favorite. However, it is his past at the MLB level. Oswalt has pitched to a career 6.19 ERA in 23 games, splitting time as a starter and reliever over the course of three seasons.

Who Gets the Spot?

I think there are really only three players that are finalists here- Jordan Yamamoto, Joey Lucchesi, and Corey Oswalt.

My personal choice would be Joey Lucchesi. I believe he has a very high upside, and having another lefty arm in the rotation can be very important for a few starts. Granted, this may only be for one or two starts at the beginning of the season, but this may actually matter more than most may think. The person that gets this spot, is also considered the top backup for when anyone else is injured.

As of right now, Lucchesi has impressed me the most. However, I think it will come down to who puts out the best final Spring Training starts.

Photo credit New York Post

Nimmo: A lot of work needs to be done

During an in-game interview with Steve Gelbs, Brandon Nimmo talked about new teammates, including Francisco Lindor. Nimmo referenced that he’s a hard worker and brings positive energy to the clubhouse.

When asked about CF, Nimmo spoke about working on the aspects in which he’s in control of. Of course, Nimmo has been a hot conversational topic in regards to if Nimmo is cut out for center.

Nimmo also spoke about the balance of understanding and utilizing analytics, but also listening to the pitchers when adamant about position. For example, deGrom prefers the outfielder’s to play a few steps in.

The Mets decided to stock up with CF’ers these past few weeks, so Nimmo should and would have defensive replacements ready to go in the latter innings if a lead is intact.

Photo from The Athletic

Deep Dive – Pete Alonso’s Sophomore “Slump”

The “Curse”

The dreaded sophomore slump is a phenomenon that seems to affect athletes across all sports and especially baseball. Our friends over at Bat Flips & Nerds did a breakdown on this last year before the 2020 season that was simple yet effective in breaking down the performance of Rookie of the Year players over the last decade.

If you look at the picture above from Bat Flip & Nerds piece, Alonso’s decline was not as extreme as Wil Myer’s decline but optically many fans would think it was! When you dig into the numbers his “decline” is much more in line with both Ronald Acuna and two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani’s “slumps”. We saw Alonso’s OPS+ drop from 147 to 123 for a net drop of 24 points. Meanwhile we saw Acuna drop 22 points and Ohtani 30 points, so we see Pete’s “slump” falls somewhere in between two other elite hitters “slumps”. The optics that a LOT of Mets fans can not seem to get out of their head is Alonso swinging and missing at the down and away slider over and over and over….

https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/sporty-videos?playId=d48163cb-3877-469b-be7a-fa6bd3d3d8d1… Peep the extreme delivery angle from the Rays Ryan Thompson on this nasty frisbee slider

But were those optics exactly that? Just optics? Lets dig in…

“Peak” Pete

In 2019 Pete obviously had a historic year as he broke the rookie HR record previously set by cross-town giant Aaron Judge. The one thing that in my mind and the minds of others really separated Pete from your traditional pull happy 30-40HR guy was his ability AND willingness to hit up the middle and to the opposite field. In fact in 2019 no hitter hit more home runs up the middle or to the opposite field than Pete Alonso’s 28. Over HALF of his home runs came when not pulling the ball. The hitters behind Alonso in HR of that variety in ’19?

So ya… Some pretty elite company

When Alonso is at his best, like he was in 2019, no park can really hold him with his ability to hit for power to all parts of the park. Pete’s HR totals alone do not show just how impressive he was hitting to the opposite field or how integral it was to his game.

Oh hi there JD Davis…

As you can see above Pete was top 10 among all hitters who hit the ball up the middle or to the opposite field. This approach is something that waned a little bit down from the first half to the second half as Pete was approaching the rookie home run record. Pete’s opposite field percentage dropped 4% from almost 20% to barely over 15%. Over that same time period we saw his batting average from .280 to .235. Of course there is more to this, such as how pitchers approached Alonso in the second half after establishing himself as one of the best hitters in baseball in the first half of 2019. So we saw Alonso’s approach change throughout 2019 but how did it carry over to 2020?

The “Inevitable”

The helium and expectations for Pete Alonso were as inevitable as the infamous sophomore slump some would say. He is coming off a unanimous Rookie of the Year season and 53 home runs. There were many fans who’s expectations were yet another 50 home run season and as someone who looks at and studies the numbers its hard to say those were fair expectations. His ’20 projections still did project him to be an elite hitter averaging anywhere from 39-48 home runs dependent on the projection system. His OPS was projected to be anywhere in the high .870s all the way to almost .920. So not only were fan expectations high but by all accounts so were the expert projections. Pete initially struggled in the abbreviated ’20 spring training which was almost a complete 180 from his excellent ’19 spring training that catapulted him onto the opening day roster. He batted only .244 over 14G, hitting only 2 extra base hits and not collecting one walk or home run. Sure it was a VERY short sample size but simply by looking at Pete, he was pressing. What player wouldn’t under the same circumstances especially after dominating the Grapefruit League just a year prior? When the REAL season started, Pete quickly found himself at the plate a lot with RISP. For the months of July-August Pete Alonso faced the 3rd most pitches with RISP. The results themselves were not pretty as seen below.

w/ RISP July-August ’20… Also of note new Met Francisco Lindor struggled immensely as well

There are several factors that created these early struggles. Alonso swung and missed at a lot of pitches with RISP, which helped create the aforementioned “bad optics”. Not only was Pete struggling but Pete was struggling at the WORST times. Only three hitters in all of MLB swung and missed at more pitches with RISP.

A weird group no? You have speedy free swingers like Mondesi and Robert as well as established hitters like Chapman, Ozuna, Lindor and Castellanos. But swings and misses were not the only issues that frustrated the feared slugging Pete Alonso. Over the same time span, Alonso was struggling with getting underneath balls. He had five balls classified as “pop-ups” with RISP in the first half of the season, the only other player in MLB who had more was Nolan Arenado(6). But not everything was unlucky for Pete Alonso he was actually only one of SEVEN hitters who hit at least two pop-ups to have one fall for a hit, courtesy of the terrible Red Sox bullpen!

Pete with half of the “Bloop and a Blast”

The Rebound

There were several times early in the season where we thought Alonso was coming out of the slump, yet would find himself faltering yet again. Then September came around… Pete Alonso found himself as one of the best hitters in baseball during the month of September and he got hot by being more aggressive. He started consistently hitting the ball in the air and with power that he was missing in the first half. Even Pete’s outs in the second half we started to see more of the “Peak Pete” we started seeing more hard hit flyballs and line drives to right field. Pete was still getting under a lot of these pitches as they were hit hard but often too high so they turned into routine outs but the change in approach was palpable and explains the increase in production that we saw from Pete. Alonso quietly hit the second most home runs in baseball over the last month of the season hitting 10, with two coming in the very last game. While it might have been harder to notice inside of a short season with such a slow start Pete Alonso DID turn it around, you don’t have to believe me though.

2019(Full Season) – .384 wOBA

2020(September) – .384 wOBA

Looking Forward

While it is true that Alonso did fall victim to the “sophomore slump”, what I think is not said enough is it what not as severe as it appeared and also if not for the shortened season likely would have been even less so with how hot Alonso ended the season. While he may never become a .300 hitter or ever hit 50HR again, Alonso can be, and will be a premier power threat in the game. He is just not any ordinary slugger though, Pete envisions himself as a student of the game who is capable of learning and evolving. To see this you do not have to look any further than the notebook that he’s used since his college days. Where he writes down each pitcher, how the AB went, what he was thinking at the plate, and more. The infamous notebook probably had more chicken scratch and notes after the early struggles but it’s what you do with those struggles that determine what happens next.

Pete Alonso has endeared himself to fans and to the game as much for his likability and relatability as his majestic towering home runs. He has shown that with his size and skill he is an elite-level athlete. Professional sports are full of elite-level athletes though. It is Pete Alonso’s mind and work ethic that have separated him from the pack. When fans ask why I am not worried about Pete Alonso after his “sophomore slump”, my answer?

His work ethic didn’t.

Photo from NBC Sports

Player Profile: The Invited PT I

I don’t think that there’s any doubts at this point with who the Mets plan on going with at third-base, J.D. Davis. However, Davis may only have a temporary clutch on the position, especially with the prospects behind him in the pipeline.

One of those prospects is Mark Vientos, a player going into his fourth professional season and has an invite to this upcoming Spring Training.

Vientos went into the year 2019 cracking into Keith Law’s “Top 100 Prospects” by ranking in at number 60, the third baseman surprised a lot of fans as not many people had him on their radar. Vientos was drafted in the 2017 June Amateur Draft in the second round as a shortstop and third baseman out of American Heritage high school in Plantation, Florida.

In 2017, Vientos spent his age 17 season playing for both the Gulfport Mets as well as the Kingsport Mets. Vientos accumulated 211 at bats in 51 games, batting .262/ .318/ .398/ .715 while hitting 4 home runs and driving 26 in.

Vientos had a better season in 2018 as he hit 11 home runs, driving in 52 runners in 60 games toting 223 at bats. He also had an impressive slash line, batting .268/ .389/ .489/ .878 during his second stint in Kingsport.

His last season in 2019 , Vientos played in 111 games while slashing at .255/.300/.411/.711 with 27 doubles, one triple, 12 home runs, and 62 RBI’s. The third baseman did have a high strikeout total with 110 in 454 plate appearances while playing for the Colombia Fireflies, the Mets Single-A affiliate.

The Pembroke Pines, Florida native is currently ranked eighth on MLB.com’s Top 30 Prospects list within the Mets organization. Vientos produces a tremendously high exit velocity and is even compared to Pete Alonso’s as being amongst best in the organization, now that’s impressive.

I’d personally like to see Vientos start 2021 with Binghamton, however I’d imagine that the third baseman will end up in the Florida State League, the Mets highest Single-A affiliate. Scouts eventually see Vientos as a middle of the order bat that will be good enough to man down the hot corner at third base.

He should move up the ladder quickly, especially with a lost 2020 season and someone by the name of Brett Baty climbing up the steps right behind him. While me probably won’t see him this campaign, MLB.com believes he’ll see some Major League service time in 2022.

Photo from MLB.com