Going in to the season, everyone in baseball assumed the San Diego Padres would be the league’s worst team by a mile. After losing every game so far this week, the Mets began Saturday tied with those lowly Padres! The best thing for the Mets might be losing five or six games a week. Baseball’s slotting system for the entry draft disproportionately favors the very worst teams.
If this were football or basketball, I think we’d hear a lot more fans chanting “tank tank tank!” But the Mets play six or seven times a week. None of us wants to watch a loser every single day. Even if losing may be better for the long term future of the franchise, it’s harder to sit through when the game is on every day. A few games like Saturday’s 8-1 win over the Marlins can make the depressing outlook for the rest of 2017 a bit more tolerable.
The matchup of Rafael Montero and Vance Worley hardly screamed pitchers duel. Montero has been a smidge below replacement this year and he was the more successful starter. But when you have a matchup of two below .500 teams in late August, weird things can happen. Montero threw more fastballs inside and challenged everyone but Giancarlo Stanton. Maybe someone told him if he keeps nibbling he won’t have a job next year. Maybe Montero looked behind him and saw the sure-handed Rosario at shortstop instead of Jose Reyes. The Mets’ new infield tied a club record with five double plays. Even the Mets seemed baffled by their improved defense.
Worley pitched in the high 80s, but he was able to keep the Mets off balance with his fastball movement until the sixth inning. Matt Reynolds opened with a pinch hit walk on a borderline pitch. Brandon Nimmo singled and Asdrubal Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at one. Yoenis Cespedes singled, then both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Miami brought the infield in with runners at second and third, but shortstop Miguel Rojas let a ball get under his glove and both runs scored. Wilmer Flores followed up with a home run to make it 5-1 Mets and the rout was on. Rojas made another error, Kevin Plawecki hit his first big league home run of the year, and Dom Smith homered in the eighth to make it an 8-1 final.
Plawecki was called up from Triple-A because the Cubs claimed backup catcher Rene Rivera off waivers earlier on Saturday. Players get claimed on waivers all the time in August. Usually teams pull the player back from waivers or try to make a trade, but there is no indication that the Mets tried to get anything from the Cubs in exchange for Rivera. They didn’t even ask for a bag of chips. Of course, the Wilpons can use the cash savings from shedding Rivera’s contract to buy a bag of chips. I doubt the market for Rivera was that strong at this point in the season, but it still feels odd to write transaction analysis where one team didn’t get anything in return but minor salary relief. I guess the main thing the Mets get is one last chance to see whether Plawecki can hit enough at the major league level to be worth a roster spot in 2018.
As Lukas Vlahos mentioned yesterday, the Mets traded Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers for a player to be named later or cash. Granderson has done so much for the Mets and for the community that it doesn’t feel right to analyze this move in a strict “what did the Mets get in return?” analysis. Granderson signed with the Mets after suffering a major injury with the Yankees. Most analysts – including me – thought it was an overpay for a declining player. He provided 13.2 wins above replacement and his humanitarian work meant far more than any measure can quantify. If anyone deserves a token move to get one last good shot at a championship, it’s Curtis Granderson.
Now that Granderson has been traded, Jacob deGrom and Jerry Blevins are the only players who have been on the active 25-man roster the entire season. Everyone else has been injured at some point, called up from Triple-A, or dealt to another team. Ironically, Asdrubal Cabrera is the one impending free agent who hasn’t been traded. After the Mets had to press Travis d’Arnaud in to service as an emergency infielder on Wednesday, the Mets may be afraid to deal any more infielders?
deGrom takes the mound vs. Adam Conley, who gave the Mets fits in three starts last year.
Photo credit: Noah K. Murray – USA Today Sports