MetsJunkies Recap: Carrasco Solid in Mets Tie

The Mets and Astros played a game that ended in a 3-3 tie yesterday. Carrasco pitched well in his final tune up, pitching 4.1 innings of 2 run ball. Carrasco allowed 4 hits and a walk, while striking out 5. It was an encouraging outing for the righty.

Sean Reid-Foley and Edwin Diaz both pitched 0.2 innings of scoreless relief. Diaz looked nasty striking out Bregman and Tucker on absolute filth.

May and Lugo both pitched a scoreless frame. Lugo did allow two hits but struck out 4 in his scoreless frame. Both will be an important part in the Mets pen.

Adam Ottavino was shaky for the second straight outing allowing the tying run to score in the bottom of the ninth.

On the offensive side, all the runs scored on Dom Smith three run bomb. Smith is now hitting .440 with a .1413OPS this spring. McNeil and Canha both collected two hits.

Today the Mets will play their final game of the spring vs. The Nats at 12.05PM. The game will be on MASN, which you can on watch on MLBTV. Taijuan Walker will the ball for his final tune up.

Photo Credit: New York Post

Trade is Off

The trade that would send Dominic Smith to the Padres for Eric Hosmer, Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan didn’t go thru. The Mets eventually decided against it.

According to a source the Mets will still monitor the trade market in hope to find a starting pitcher.

Photo Credit: SNY

How Can a Trade with the Padres Work?

Earlier today there was a report with the Mets and Padres involved in trade talks. While my initial reaction was: Nooooooo, and its still a no for me, it made me wonder how the Padres and Mets could lineup for a trade?

Some might not be aware, but Eric Hosmer holds a lot of negative value for a team. A 32 year old first baseman with a .732 OPS? That’s not good. On top of that, Hosmer is owned 59 million for the next 4 years. But still it could work for both sides?

The Padres want to get ride of Hosmer and they should pay up in talent to do so. Paddack alone wouldn’t be enough, especially with giving up Dominic Smith. Yes, I am aware that Smith value has dropped, but he holds way more value then Hosmer. Paddack alone doesn’t clear that gap. So what would?

MLB Trade Values

As you can see, this trade is valued negative for the Mets. However, getting both Paddack and McKenzie Gore, makes it worth it for me. Gore and Paddack both have options but provide much needed depth for this year and the future. The 23 year old lefty Gore struggled last year in the minors, but has been great in the majors so far. He could also be used like the Brewers do, as a reliever first and starter later.

I believe Gore has more value then MLB Trade Values calculated, but it could be close to even value all things considered. This trade (although Hosmer could be a pain in the *ss), is worth it IMO. Both Paddack and Gore are blocked and it gives the Padres some payroll flexibility.

Point is, that the Padres and Mets could be trade partners in getting Hosmer and much needed pitching depth, with the deGrom injury. There is a way for the Mets and Padres to make it worth it for both sides?

Photo Credit: MLB Trade Rumors

Mets Have Discussed Trade with Padres

According to Dennis Lin from the Athletic, the Mets and Padres have discussed a trade to acquire Chris Paddack and Eric Hosmer. In return they discussed Dom Smith heading over to San Diego.

This comes the morning after the Mets received the deGrom news. It could be a trade talked about earlier in the offseason, but with the deGrom news, it makes you wonder if the Mets will resume talks to get Paddack.

Right after the deGrom news, Billy Eppler said in an interview that the news won’t affect the Mets from looking outside the organization to fill that spot. However, that’s what every GM would say, so take it with a grain of salt.

If the Mets will try to get Paddack and Hosmer, they get an arm under control but coming off a horrendous year. The 26 year old righty pitched to a 5.07 ERA in 108.1 innings pitched. He did have a 3.78 FIP and 4.73 XERA, so he is expected to be better than his 2021 year.

Main plus with Paddack is his ability to limit walks. However, he does allow a lot of hard hit contact. That wasn’t the case in his great rookie year, where he pitched to a 3.33 ERA. After that great 2019, the Texas Native has struggled.

Even with the struggles, Chris Paddack is a young and under controlled starting pitcher. A hot commodity in the game, which will cost you. To degrees the talent in the deal, the Mets could add Eric Hosmer to relief payroll for the Padres.

Hosmer is coming off a year where he hit .269/.337/.395 over 151 games. The left handed hitting first baseman played a solid first base (69th percentile in OAA) but didn’t provide a lot of power. Hosmer does provide solid hard hit rates and doesn’t strikeout a lot. However he owned a .732 OPS and is owned 21 million dollar next year, with an opt out. If he decides to stay, he is owned 13 mil for the three years after 2022.

To give up Dom and that type of money for Hosmer and Paddack is a no go for me. Paddack has struggled and Hosmer just isn’t a good player. Both aren’t good enough to justify trading a talented player in Dom Smith and pay the contract for Hosmer. Please Mets, Don’t do this even with deGrom out.

Photo Credit: Amazin Army on Twitter

MetsJunkies Recap: Bassitt Shines

The Mets played the Marlins yesterday with Chris Bassitt making his unofficial Mets debut. The newly acquired righty pitched well, going 4.2 scoreless frames. Bassitt allowed just 4 hits while walking none and striking out 3.

That was the start of a Mets shutout, as the Mets beat the Marlins 10-0. Eric Orze got the final out of the 5th. Felix Pena followed with 2 scoreless frames and Chasen Shreve kept his strong bid for the opening day roster going with a perfect frame and 2 strikeouts. Sean Reid-Foley finished it off with a scoreless innings, allowing 1 hit with 2 K’s of his own.

The Mets offense got the better of Major League arms Pablo Lopez and Zack Pop. The Mets got 4 runs against the Marlins starter and added 4 against the Marlins righty reliever. Francisco Lindor homered yet again as he hit a 2 run homerun against Lopez in a 2 for 2 day with 4 RBI’s

Lindor didn’t just hit, he also made a sparkling defensive gem to get an out. He ranged far to his left to help Bassitt get the out. Impressive play by the star shortstop, who has been terrific.

Lindor wasn’t the only Mets player who had a terrific day. Nimmo went yard in a 2 for 5 day. McNeil and Dom both collected 2 hits. Marte and McCann drove in a run and the Mets overall collected 15 hits with 7 extra base hits (Lindor 2, McNeil, Dom, Nimmo, Marte and McCann).

Tomorrow the Mets will face the Astros at Glover Park with Carlos Carrasco getting the start for the Mets. It will be televised on SNY, starting at 6.10pm.

Photo Credit: New York Post Sports

Mets Recap: deGrom was O. (5)K

The Mets beat the Astros 2-0 yesterday with Jacob deGrom getting his first Grapefruit League Action. deGrom went 2 innings, allowing one hit with 5 strikeouts. deGrom looked free and easy, hitting 99mph on his fastball. Jake threw mostly fastball and sliders, but ended his outing with his only change up for the K. He threw 30 pitches and is expected to throw around 45 next outing.

It was the start of a very solid pitching day for the Mets, as they shutout the Astros with 7 pitchers getting into the action. Adam Ottavino made his Mets debut with a perfect innings and one K. Trevor Williams followed with 2 scoreless frame (needed 50 pitches). Both are part of the major league roster in all likelihood.

Lefties Alex Claudio and Rob Zastryzny came into action and pitched very well. Zastryzny struck out the side for the save and Claudio struck out the lefty he faced and followed with getting two righties out. Nogosek and Jose Rodriguez also pitched a scoreless frame in the win.

The Mets got their runs in the 5th after back to back hits by Dom Smith and Nick Meyer opened the innings. Lindor drove in Dom with a ground out and McNeil lined a sac fly to score Meyer. Overall the Mets collected just 6 hits. Alonso had the only extra base hit with a ringing double.

The Mets don’t have a game today and will be back against the Marlins on Thursday 6.10pm. Reportedly Carlos Carrasco and Chris Bassitt will make their spring debut.

Photo Credit: Anthony DiComo

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

What the Pillar signing may mean

The Mets just recently signed CF’er Kevin Pillar to a Major League deal. The Mets also recently signed CF’er Albert Almora jr and that’s after signing CF’er Mallex Smith with Heredia still on the Mets 40-man roster.

The Mets will need to clear a spot from the 40 to make room for the newly acquired Kevin Pillar. The first option would have to be Jacob Barnes, with no options remaining left, he’s always been one of these players with his back to the wall.

Guillermo Heredia might be one of those odd men out. While he has options remaining, Heredia might be a victim of circumstance and catch a pink slip. It’s unfortunate because he’s a great defender that’s fun to watch at the dish, as well.

Of course with the news with Lugo not being able to toss a ball for six weeks, the Mets could very well place the reliever on the 60-day IL to clear a spot.

But what does this all mean with the 26-man roster? Well, players like Albert Almora jr and Jose Martinez each have options remaining, so we’ll likely see the pair in Syracuse. However, once the Mets need a RH stick to fill in, the Mets have viable options with the two.

That’s not all! That’s right! There’s more!

I think we can all finally put the nail in the coffin with JBJ potentially landing in Queens. Bradley is not only asking for quite a bit of money, but he seems to be shooting for a four-year contract at 31 years old.

While I haven’t seen any rumblings from any reporters, it seems that fans are thinking this may be a precursor to something bigger. Could the Mets be looking to trading Nimmo, Davis, or Smith?

Photo from MLB.com

MetsJunkies Predictions: Dom Smith

Moving on to our next prediction with Spring Training getting closer and closer. At this point Dom Smith is slated to be our left fielder. After being one of the better hitters in the game in 2020, how will Smith follow that up in 2021?

Corne Hogeveen:

After a strong 2019, Dominic Smith showed his true potential in 2020. Over 50 games he batted .316/.377/.616, good for a .993 OPS (4th in the majors). It’s always hard to predict such a great season, especially in a full year, so I see a drop in his overall numbers.

.280/.345/.505, 25HR, 85RBIs

Gem Tablak:

I’m writing this as if the Universal DH will be in play because the truth is, I believe it’ll be introduced into gameplay with the first change.

My good friend Del Alba once got loud with me and yelled xwOBA (jokingly, yet intuitively) and he knew he had me running. But if you look at this chart, Smith ranks within amongst the top 10% while hitting the ball hard with the best of em.

Baseball Savant

I’m going strong with this one. I see Smith hitting 34 long balls with 93 RBI’s on the 2021 campaign. I also see him slashing around .255/.348/.521 in a full season of at-bats.

Del Alba:

Dominic Smith has come a long way since his rookie debut and sophomore year. After his sophomore year, he was diagnosed with sleep apnea and got it treated and the results were amazing. One other noticeable difference was the weight loss, he looks much more fit than his first two years in the major. I think we’ll see the DH so ill have to make my projection based on that. As Gem pointed out on his stat cast page, Smith has a very high hard hit rate along with a high expected batting average which can be a lethal combination.

.280/.370/.500 with 90 RBI and 27 HR

Rotochamp

Poll: The Outfield Conundrum

Earlier on in the week, I had created a poll on Twitter and here it is:

@MetsJunkies on Twitter

So assuming that the D.H. will not be apart of the National League and that the Mets acquire a natural centerfielder, what should the front office do with the abundance of corners.

Whether it be George Springer or Jackie Bradley, either acquisition will cause Nimmo to be bumped from center. The Mets have the option to put him and his amazing OBP in left field while providing better defense.

This move would bump Dom Smith to the bench. With Smith’s popularity spreading like a wildfire, it’s no surprise that only 4% would opt to trade Dom.

If the Mets decide to use Smith in left, this will push Nimmo to the bench and that would probably make him one of the best fourth outfielders in the game. And while Corné would choose to trade Nimmo as he stated on The Mets Junkies Podcast, 24% of the voters agree with him.

I was surprised to see that a whopping 72% would actually hold onto both players. This would entail some creative in-game lineup and defensive changes, but with the D.H. potentially coming back to being universal in 2022, this would make them extremely stacked.

Thank you to the 344 voters that participated on Twitter and don’t forget to follow us. We look forward to you taking part in the current poll on Joey Lucchesi as well as many more in the future.