MetsBlog Executive Editor

Matthew Cerrone

Matthew Cerrone started MetsBlog.com as a project in college, generated 300,000,000 page views and 30,000 posts in 10 years, partnered with SportsNet New York and turned his hobby into a career. In 2011, SNY hired Matt to be Executive Editor and Director of Digital Content for their network of team sites, video content and podcasts.

Jun 4, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Jun 4, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

In Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Seth Lugo and Jacob deGrom, the Mets have five players who are worth a combined 12.2 WAR this season, according to FanGraphs.com.

The above group, plus Brandon Nimmo, means Brodie Van Wagenen will, at the very least, enter next season with a bonafide ace, a unique and versatile reliever and a legit core of young position players. Which is why I want him to sell at the trade deadline.

It may be a long shot, but I do believe the Mets can claw their way in to the top group competing for a berth into this season's Wild Card game. The thing is, even if they do pull off a miracle and get in and past the one-game playoff, I'm not confident they have the ammunition to take down the Cubs or Braves, let alone the Dodgers, in a five- or seven-game series.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Matthew Cerrone
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Jul 16, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario (1) celebrates with New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) after scoring a run in the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports (Jesse Johnson)
Jul 16, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario (1) celebrates with New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) after scoring a run in the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports (Jesse Johnson)

The Mets' current four-game winning streak is their longest since the middle of May. And while it's still a long shot, they are finally moving in the right direction when it comes to a potential miracle run to win a Wild Card spot and get to the playoffs.

Entering play this past weekend, the Mets had just a 4.1 percent chance of winning a Wild Card, according to calculations provided by FanGraphs. Following Wednesday's 14-4 win against the Twins, that number went to 9.2 percent. 

Baseball Prospectus has the Mets' Wild Card chances at 9.8 percent.

Tags: Dominic Smith, Jason Vargas, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard throws a pitch during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard throws a pitch during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

I wanna believe. But, despite what Mickey Callaway has told reporters, I know it's very unlikely the Mets will claw their way back into the Wild Card race.

Therefore, if Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen -- who addressed the media Friday -- concludes that the Mets will again finish with a losing record, he will give serious thought to trading more than just a few players this summer.

The fact is, while some on this roster helped get the Mets to a World Series in 2015, most were not part of that squad. And those that were on that team are either due for major increases in salary or they're about to be or will be free agents very soon.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Edwin Diaz, Jason Vargas, Jeff McNeil, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Todd Frazier, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Jun 30, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) talks with pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) after taking him out in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Jun 30, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) talks with pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) after taking him out in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

Following four days off for the All-Star break, the Mets return to action Friday against the Marlins in Miami.

"Come and get us," Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen dared rival teams this past winter.

That's exactly what your rivals have done.

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Three weeks from today, MLB will be in a frenzy, with teams scrambling to add and deal players in advance of that day's trade deadline. It marks the opportunity for contending teams to add impact talent for the stretch run, all while losing teams hope to acquire prospects and players that can help in future seasons.

Ideally, trades end up fair for all teams involved. In some cases, though, a young player is dealt away that can come back to haunt the fans and team that sent him packing. 

Here are six players traded by the Mets who did just that...

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Jun 6, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets left fielder Jeff McNeil (6) reacts after hitting a single in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Jun 6, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets left fielder Jeff McNeil (6) reacts after hitting a single in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Mets fans realized the awesomeness of Jeff McNeil early last season when he was in the minors, which was confirmed when he was promoted during the summer and raked the rest of the season. However, most of baseball, including Brodie Van Wagenen, didn't seem to think that highly of McNeil's old-school, consistent production.

In June, McNeil was named to his first All-Star Game.

"It's a dream come true and has always been a goal of mine," McNeil told me. "It was a long road. I battled injuries, surgeries and to be here going to the All-Star Game means a lot."

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Jun 20, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) watches his two run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)
Jun 20, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) watches his two run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)

In talks with five talent evaluators, none of which work for the Yankees or Mets, three said they would bet long term on the MLB career of Pete Alonso over Aaron Judge.

"Right now, I'd take Alonso," a recent hitting instructor turned scout told me. "Like most of the league's power hitters, they both use the popular ferris wheel swing, inside out style, but Alonso tends to square up better and often faster."

"Judge gets his bat in the zone incredibly fast, too, but because of his size he doesn't always get on plane with the pitch," another talent evaluator explained. "Alonso can make lightening fast adjustments because his wrists and hands are so damn quick to the ball."

Tags: Pete Alonso, Matthew Cerrone
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Feb 25, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; New York Mets shortstop Andres Gimenez (72) fields a ground ball in the second inning against the Houston Astros during a spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Feb 25, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; New York Mets shortstop Andres Gimenez (72) fields a ground ball in the second inning against the Houston Astros during a spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

Most of the Mets' high-impact prospects are in the lower levels of the minors, but they have a handful of players who can help as soon as 2019 or 2020, including...

Andres Gimenez

Gimenez, 20, is projected to be ready to reach the big leagues in 2020. He's currently the organization's top prospect and ranked the 58th overall prospect in all of baseball.

Tags: Andres Gimenez, Anthony Kay, David Peterson, Jason Vargas, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Brodie Van Wagenen
Brodie Van Wagenen

It's been a weird and dramatic past few days for the Mets. However, despite the colorful headlines and sky-is-falling public reaction, the team sits just 4.5 games back in a Wild Race where no team is showing signs of breaking from the pack.

It's June 26, most teams have played nearly half of their games this season and only two NL teams are more than five games away from the final Wild Card spot. In addition, of the other teams fighting for the Wild Card, just one has won more than six of their past 10 games (with four having played at or below .500, including the Mets).

The Brewers and Phillies -- the top two teams in the Wild Card race -- each have lost seven of their past 10 games. Also, they both have a losing record on the road this season. The Rockies, who are tied with the Phillies for the second Wild Card spot, are 5-5 over their past 10 games and also have a losing road record. As a result, it is very, very difficult to gauge how most of the league will handle the July 31 trade deadline.

Tags: Dominic Moore, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Michael Conforto, Seth Lugo, Todd Frazier, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Amed Rosario (Gregory Fisher)
Amed Rosario (Gregory Fisher)

The Mets considered having prized shortstop Amed Rosario get work in center field last summer. 

However, despite the need in center field last season, Rosario did zero work in the outfield. And he didn't see any work there this Spring Training either. 

But here we are again, with manager Mickey Callaway saying earlier this week that the team is again considering Rosario in the outfield.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Jay Bruce, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Matthew Cerrone
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Jun 5, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jason Vargas (44) celebrates with teammates after defeating the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Jun 5, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jason Vargas (44) celebrates with teammates after defeating the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Mets starting pitcher Jason Vargas is back to doing what he does best on the mound. And, because of it, while keeping the Mets afloat in the standings, he's also establishing trade value.

During last night's game, the Yankees managed to score three runs on seven hits against him during his six innings on the mound. The results helped even his record at 3-3 through 11 appearances, during which his 3.68 ERA ranks behind only Jacob deGrom among the team's starting pitchers.

"This is who we signed. This is who we wanted," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said after the game. "He's doing now (what he did in) the second half last year."

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Jason Vargas, Matthew Cerrone
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Dominic Smith
Dominic Smith

It was roughly two years ago that Dominic Smith was considered the top first base prospect in all of the minor leagues. As the Mets' second-best prospect, according to MLB.com, he was touted as their future long-term first baseman.

Pete Alonso had a different plan in mind.

In less than a few months, the 24-year-old Alonso hit his way past Smith on the depth chart, flying up the ladder between Double and Triple A and debuting with the Mets this past Opening Day.

Tags: Dominic Smith, Matthew Cerrone
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Aug 3, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira (25) yells at New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (not pictured) as he's held back by New York Mets catcher Rene Rivera (44) after being hit by a pitch during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Aug 3, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira (25) yells at New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (not pictured) as he's held back by New York Mets catcher Rene Rivera (44) after being hit by a pitch during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

It's popular to shrug off the Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees, as people love to label it as a "distraction." However, I like it. I try to deny it, because that's the cool thing to do. But, in the end, when I see those two uniforms on the same field at the same time, I can't lie -- I sit up, lean in and feel the fire to win.

Technically, the four games against the Yankees have less of a direct impact than when facing a team from the NL East. But, it's still a fun time. And for me, that's why I fell in love with and continue to watch baseball.

Frankly, the media attention, the packed crowds, and the general stadium buzz is refreshing for this time in June, especially for a team like the Mets that is bouncing in an out of playoff contention.

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May 10, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario (1) is greeted at home plate by catcher Wilson Ramos (40) and center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) and right fielder Michael Conforto (30) after hitting a grand slam home run against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
May 10, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario (1) is greeted at home plate by catcher Wilson Ramos (40) and center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) and right fielder Michael Conforto (30) after hitting a grand slam home run against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

In the last two weeks, I've written twice how difficult and unlikely it is that the Mets will be able to battle their way to the postseason. This time around, I'll be more optimistic.

Suddenly, unlike during mid-May, Baseball Prospectus sees a strong second half for Brodie Van Wagenen, Mickey Callaway and their roster.

Based on what they've done so far, how they're trending and the team's remaining schedule, the statistical-based website projects the Mets to go 56-44 during the season's final 100 games -- which would be the best record in the NL East between now and the end of the regular season.

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Jun 25, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Seth Lugo (67) walks off the field after the top of the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jun 25, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Seth Lugo (67) walks off the field after the top of the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The best I can tell, 10 of the league's 15 teams in AL still consider themselves "contending," while seemingly only the Giants and Marlins are, at this point, set on beings sellers before the deadline.

At 28-32 and five games back of the last Wild Card spot, the Mets are presently among the NL teams riding the fence. To hit 90 wins, which is what it typically takes to reach the postseason, the Mets will need to play .560 baseball, which is not out of the realm of possibility. If this is going to happen, it has to start now, specifically this week playing the Giants and Rockies at home.

It's not going to be easy, though, especially with multiple key players underperforming, banged up, or on the injured list. Best case scenario, the Mets get themselves to be slightly above .500, and well within reach of the Wild Card by winning or splitting every series between now and the end of July. This level success would hopefully make them buyers.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Noah Syndergaard, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Brodie Van Wagenen
Brodie Van Wagenen

The MLB will hold it's first-year player draft on June 3, and as a result of winning just 77 games in 2018, the Mets have the overall No. 12 pick. The only NL East team with a better draft position is the Marlins at No. 4.

And even more importantly, it will GM Brodie Van Wagenen's first draft since taking over as GM for Sandy Alderson last fall.

Tommy Tanous (Director of Scouting) and Mark Tramuta (Director of Amateur Scouting) will be Van Wagenen's point persons on draft day. Tanous took hold of the draft in 2016, replacing Paul DePodesta. His most notable pick to date is Pete Alonso, who the Mets selected with their third pick (64 overall) in 2016...

Tags: Andres Gimenez, Anthony Kay, Dominic Smith, Pete Alonso, Matthew Cerrone
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May 19, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) looks on from the dugout steps in the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
May 19, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) looks on from the dugout steps in the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

The moment Brodie Van Wagenen was hired to be GM of the Mets, I heard rumblings from MLB insiders that he was hellbent on acquiring a veteran with postseason experience, Hall of Fame credentials, and a strong reputation across baseball. 

During the GM Meetings in November, sources said routine check-in conversations revealed a potential match between the Mets and Mariners, who had future Hall of Fame second baseman Robinson Cano. The M's were reportedly the first of the two teams to raise Cano's name. However, it stands to reason that - since Van Wagenen represented Cano in negotiations of his current contract - that the new GM found his former client to the exact player described above.

It took time to hash out prospects, cash value, big league players, and which team would be paying for who and when. However, when the dust settled, Cano, along with promising closer Edwin Diaz and $20 million, were sent to the Mets in return for prospects Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, and Gerson Bautista, as well as the remaining contracts of Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Matthew Cerrone
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The Mets began a seven-game road trip earlier this week, taking them through Los Angeles for four games against the Dodgers, then three against the D-backs in Arizona.

New York's previous 15 games were all against teams below .500, during which they won nine and lost six, including losing five in a row to the Nationals and Marlins.

"We feel like we're a better team than this," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said earlier this week before embarking on his west coast trip "We have to do better."

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The Mets traded for Yoenis Cespedes in the hours before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline in 2015, after which he went on an unconscious run -- hitting 17 home runs and 44 RBI during the team's final 57 regular season games. As a result, Cespedes and the Mets went 36-21, won the NL East and reached their first World Series in 15 years.

In the days after the World Series, Cespedes entered the free agent market and pressure quickly mounted for the Mets to re-sign him. He reportedly had been seeking a five- to seven-year deal, but teams were concerned about his hip and legs and he received only short-term offers.

Then-GM Sandy Alderson and then-agent Brodie Van Wagenen remained in contact all winter, despite reports indicating talks had been breaking down. In January, at which point no team had offered Cespedes more than a three-year deal, the Nationals reportedly popped up as a possible suitor.

Tags: Yoenis Cespedes, Matthew Cerrone
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May 23, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets right fielder Carlos Gomez (91) hits a three run home run against the Washington Nationals during the eighth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
May 23, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets right fielder Carlos Gomez (91) hits a three run home run against the Washington Nationals during the eighth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Mets OF Carlos Gomez has started in right field the past four games, during which New York never lost against the Nationals.

Gomez, 33, was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse last week. If he had been promoted four days earlier, it would have been 12 years to the day since making his big-league debut wearing a Mets uniform in 2007.

Prior to being promoted the first time, Gomez was an elite, much-hyped prospect.

Tags: Wilmer Flores, Matthew Cerrone
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Former Mets catcher and Hall of Fame member Mike Piazza addresses the crowd during a ceremony to retire his number (31) prior to the game between New York Mets and the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. (Andy Marlin)
Former Mets catcher and Hall of Fame member Mike Piazza addresses the crowd during a ceremony to retire his number (31) prior to the game between New York Mets and the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. (Andy Marlin)

On this date in 1998, while working the service desk at Home Depot, I answered an urgent phone call from my mother, who, as a Mets fan herself, was eager to tell me the Mets traded for "that pizza guy," as she called him.

I laughed, knowing full well she meant Mike Piazza, who never would have become the legend he is in Queens had the Dodgers never turned their backs on his contract request.

Piazza wanted at least $91 million during his Spring Training negotiations with the Dodgers in early 1998. They never offered more than $84 million, Piazza rejected it, and Los Angeles began floating his name in trade talks with interested teams. The Mets were among several teams to show interest...

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The Mets are four games below .500 and six losses back of first place. Yet, based on GM Brodie Van Wagenen's comments Monday, he and his team remain committed to getting to the postseason.

In addition, Van Wagenen said that manager Mickey Callaway has the support of the clubhouse, front office and ownership. Van Wagenen has no choice but to stick with his manager or risk losing credibility with his on-field talent.

The point is, despite the microscope of New York and a frustrated fanbase, the Mets are locked in to at least fighting their way through the NL East. However, what are the chances Van Wagenen and Company rise to the top of a playoff race and play in October?

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New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway takes out pitcher Zack Wheeler in the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. (Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway takes out pitcher Zack Wheeler in the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. (Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports)

Zack Wheeler is kind of, sort of having a good season. He's made nine starts, given up four or more runs in four of them, while allowing three or fewer during the other five.

Wheeler, 28, will be a free agent after this season, during which he's looked like a more advanced version of himself at times, but also resembles the pitcher he had been in the past.

For instance, Wheeler historically landed around 95 mph with his fastball. This season, though, his four-seam fastball is a couple of ticks quicker. Among starting pitchers, Wheeler's four-seamer has the second-highest average velocity in the game, trailing only Noah Syndergaard's.

Tags: Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Jun 10, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Jun 10, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

The Mets have lost 8 of their last 10 games. They're 17-20, have won just one of their last 10 series, and currently sit 4.5 games back of the first-place Phillies. However, they're also about to get 16 straight games against teams below .500, 10 of which will be in their home ballpark.

"What we're doing right now is not acceptable," manager Mickey Callaway said after Wednesday's loss in San Diego. "We have to do better. We can't all of a sudden score a few runs one game and everything is OK. We have to continue to do it."

Thankfully, Callaway's team will play the Marlins next, who have the league's worst record. Then it's the Nationals, who may be the league's most disappointing team, the Marlins and Nats again, and finishing off with the Tigers.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Jacob deGrom, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Brodie Van Wagenen
Brodie Van Wagenen

The bad news is the Mets look like the same train wreck we witnessed during manager Mickey Callaway's first season in 2018. The good news is that, despite being 16-19, they're just 3.5 games back of the first-place Phillies, who are 19-15.

We also know from 2015 and 2016 that in, MLB success is often dictated not by how a team starts but by how they finish. In 2015 they began the year 13-3, dipped to 36-37 in late-June, but after several midseason additions and winning 62 percent of their final 60 games, they reached the playoffs and got to the World Series.

The same turnaround happened in 2016, but ended with a loss to the Giants in the Wild Card game. The point is that it's early, there are still 127 games to be played, all sorts of trades, injuries and luck will play out and, though it may seem hopeless, there are still plenty of chances for the Mets to turn things around and have a successful season.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Edwin Diaz, Jason Vargas, Jeurys Familia, Luis Guillorme, Paul Sewald, Steven Matz, Todd Frazier, Matthew Cerrone
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Earlier this week, after Noah Syndergaard told reporters that gripping a baseball on a cold night has felt like trying to throw an ice cube, I texted a former Mets reliever (now pitching with another team) to ask if he agreed.

"These baseballs suck," he replied. "They're more slick and the seams are more smooth and hard to grip."

I asked what happens if he roughs up the ball, to which he responded that it's pointless to do when the umpire puts a new ball in play nearly every other pitch.

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Apr 13, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) hits a double against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports (Brett Davis)
Apr 13, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) hits a double against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports (Brett Davis)

There's no debating that Pete Alonso is having the best start to a career among the thousands of players to wear the Mets uniform.

Thankfully for him, he's doing it at a time when Mets fans are seeking an heir to the throne left behind by David Wright. He's also doing it during the social media age, through which we get a better look into his personality and popularity than would have been the case had he broken out at any other point in history.

In a season when much of the attention in the National League has been on San Diego's much-hyped rookie Fernando Tatis Jr., it's Alonso that won the league's Rookie of the Month for April.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Jacob deGrom, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Matthew Cerrone
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Apr 2, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets catcher Wilson Ramos (40) in the dugout before the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
Apr 2, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets catcher Wilson Ramos (40) in the dugout before the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

Wilson Ramos is not performing like the elite, free-agent catcher that sought a long-term deal this past winter. This could be why, after spending several weeks seeking a four-year deal, Ramos settled for two years and $19 million from the Mets.

The acquisition of Ramos was interpreted as Van Wagenen getting his third choice. If you recall, he had reportedly been chasing the Marlins around for J.T. Realmuto, who was eventually traded to the Phillies. And, according to Yasmani Grandal, before he signed his current deal with the Brewers, he rejected a four-year, $60 million offer from the Mets. 

In between Realmuto going to Philadelphia and Grandal going to the Brewers, Van Wagenen signed Ramos, who said the Mets were always his first choice.

Tags: Wilson Ramos, Matthew Cerrone
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Apr 3, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; General view of fans outside Citi Field before a game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Apr 3, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; General view of fans outside Citi Field before a game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

MLB.com currently considers 19-year-old Mets minor-leaguer Ronny Mauricio to be their third-best prospect, slotting just behind 20-year-old shortstop Andres Gimenez.

Last week, Mauricio cracked MLB.com's Top 100 Prospect List for the first time during his brief career, though it's worth noting they ranked him at exactly 100.

In either case, the hype train beneath Mauricio is gaining momentum, and I predict by the end of this summer, he and Gimenez will both be talked about the same way we pumped up Amed Rosario in 2016.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, Ronny Mauricio, Matthew Cerrone
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Apr 7, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets infielder Dominic Smith (22) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports)
Apr 7, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets infielder Dominic Smith (22) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports)

Suddenly, the Mets have two, young, productive first basemen, only one starting spot for each of them, and a crowded infield and bench.

As a rookie, Peter Alonso has jumped on top of the national radar hitting .306 with 8 HR, 8 doubles and 21 RBI. His current 1.2 WAR has him jockeying with Arizona's Christian Walker for talk about Rookie of the Year.

Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Smith, who has played in 23 games this season, is currently batting .400 with a whopping .516 OBP in 31 sporadic at-bats, most of which he's had coming off the bench. He hit .321 in 19 games this past spring, suggesting his current in-season success is not a fluke...

Tags: Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, Luis Guillorme, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, Matthew Cerrone
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Mar 28, 2019; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports (Jake Roth)
Mar 28, 2019; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports (Jake Roth)

The Mets need another starting pitcher and at least one addition to their bullpen.

There are options on the free-agent market, such as Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel, but Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen may also want to reach out to the Giants.

According to the Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, the Giants are open to dealing relievers Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson, Trevor Gott and Nick Vincent.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matthew Cerrone
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New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard pitches to St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina during the second inning at Busch Stadium. (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard pitches to St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina during the second inning at Busch Stadium. (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

Noah Syndergaard is not happy with how he has pitched in 2019, during which he has been charged with giving up 19 runs in just five starts and 29 innings.

"To be quite honest, the entire beginning of this season, my performances have been unacceptable," he said later Sunday. "I have to be better. I will be better. There's no excuses for it."

In his start Sunday against the Cardinals, Syndergaard tossed five innings, allowed four earned runs, eight hits and two batters, both which were the first batter of the inning.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Paul Sewald, Wilson Ramos, Matthew Cerrone
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New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard throws a pitch during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard throws a pitch during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets began a 13-game stretch last week that included 10 games against the Phillies and Braves.

I believed the Mets would need to win at least six of those 10 games -- which would put them around 14-10 heading into their next homestand -- to avoid hitting the panic button too early.

To date, they have won just two of seven during this stretch, with three left against the Phillies, whom they will play at Citi Field after beginning a three-game series Friday against the Cardinals in St. Louis.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Jason Vargas, Jeff McNeil, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Robert Gsellman, Robinson Cano, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Jeff McNeil entered Wednesday hitting .418 (23-for-55) with five doubles, one triple, 10 RBI and a .484 on-base percentage, which was second-best in the National League and fourth-best in all of baseball. He notched two more hits on Wednesday, raising his triiple slash to .424/.485/.542.

"He's still still mostly under people's radars," a former MLB scout, now advisor to an NL team, told me earlier Wednesday. "Based on what he did last year, if he keeps this up, he won't be a secret for long."

In McNeil, I see a 27-year-old, old-school hitter with a unique story and unique bat that is destined to win multiple batting titles, the first of which could realistically happen this season.

Tags: Jeff McNeil, Matthew Cerrone
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Apr 12, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets Keon Broxton (23) gets high fives after scoring against the Atlanta Braves during the fourth inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports (Dale Zanine)
Apr 12, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets Keon Broxton (23) gets high fives after scoring against the Atlanta Braves during the fourth inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports (Dale Zanine)

The main Mets headlines continue to center around replacing Jason Vargas with Dallas Keuchel, and whether to sign Craig Kimbrel to beef up the bullpen.

Here are four under the radar stories worth noting...

1) Broxton is better than Lagares

Tags: Juan Lagares, Pete Alonso, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Matthew Cerrone
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During his last 23 plate appearances, Mets 1B Pete Alonso has eight hits, including two doubles, five home runs and 10 RBI, which is an incredible stretch for any player let alone a rookie.

The common talking point among former players on TV and radio is that Alonso is reminiscent of and has the potential to be the next Aaron Judge or Joey Gallo.

However, Bobby Valentine - former Mets manager and current executive director of athletics at Sacred Heart University - told me he believes Alonso is showing signs of having a pitch recognition more like Joey Votto than either Judge or Gallo.

Tags: Pete Alonso, Matthew Cerrone
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The Mets are about to embark on a 13-game stretch (during which they have one off-day) that could play a significant role in how things play out the rest of this season.

So far this year, the Mets have split their six games against the Nationals. In the next two weeks, they will play 10 games against their other top competition in the NL East, the Phillies and Braves, both of whom are tied with the Mets at 7-4 atop the division.

This will be the first this season the Mets will play either of these teams...

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Oct 16, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (60) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox in game three of the 2018 ALCS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Taormina)
Oct 16, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (60) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox in game three of the 2018 ALCS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Taormina)

The Mets have continued to be in contact with free-agent starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, according to SNY's Andy Martino.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal recently reported that, while Keuchel would prefer a multi-year deal, he is open to signing a one-year contract worth more than the $17.9 million qualifying offer he rejected.

Brodie Van Wagenen did a terrific job this past winter working to improve the team's position player depth, but he has yet to create reliable, proven insurance for the pitching staff -- specifically the rotation. In Keuchel, Van Wagenen has the opportunity to add depth, reliability and experience to his rotation, but it also comes with a variety of cons as well...

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Mickey Callaway received criticism from fans and reporters this past Saturday morning when he revealed J.D. Davis would again be hitting cleanup, despite Davis entering the game with a .150 batting average.

Wilson Ramos, who most critics felt should bat fourth, was pushed to hitting fifth, while Michael Conforto was dropped to batting sixth.

Davis, who is said to have significant support in the front office, rewarded Callaway by hitting two solo home runs against Nationals starting pitcher Patrick Corbin, the first of which was the hardest-hit home run in MLB this season, according to StatCast...

Tags: Jeff McNeil, Todd Frazier, Matthew Cerrone
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Mickey Callaway said Monday that Todd Frazier, who has been out since late-February due to a strained oblique, will begin a rehab assignment later this week.

Meanwhile, Jed Lowrie (knee) recently began fielding ground balls and swinging a bat from both sides of the plate, though he as yet to be cleared to run at full speed. Lowrie has been idle most of the spring as he continues to deal with a capsule sprain in his left knee.

If I'm guessing, I'd say Frazier will be back next week, while Lowrie remains out through most of April. In time, though, once Frazier and Lowrie return, the Mets will need shuffle playing time around the diamond and force Callaway and GM Brodie Van Wagenen to make some difficult decisions about the overall roster and daily lineup construction...

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, Matthew Cerrone
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According to The Athletic, the Mets continue to check in on the market for closer Craig Kimbrel and starter Dallas Keuchel, which I'm sure is true. However, team sources Sunday were quick to leak to several reporters that Rosenthal's report is a bit overstated and that the team is simply doing standard due diligence. 

I have no doubt that Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen is always in touch with other teams and agents, keeping an open mind to any way his team can improve. So, the above report and response shouldn't be surprising because, 1) the Mets have available money in their 2019 budget, 2) they remain $30-40 million under the luxury tax threshold, and 3) both players would significantly improve Van Wagenen's roster. 

The thing is, if given the green light and forced to choose, should Van Wagenen go Keuchel or Kimbrel?

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Mar 31, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) celebrates with teammates after scoring in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports (Tommy Gilligan)
Mar 31, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) celebrates with teammates after scoring in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports (Tommy Gilligan)

The Mets won two of three games during their season-opening series against the Nationals this past weekend in Washington D.C. Here are three good and three not-so-good takeaways from the previous three games...

Up >> The offense is no one-trick pony

The Mets are no longer waiting on home runs and 'hunting strikes,' a hitting approach pushed the past few years by Sandy Alderson and his hitting coaches Dave Hudgens and Kevin Long. Instead, manager Mickey Callaway and new hitting coach Chili Davis worked this past spring to get their roster to focus more on hitting behind runners, ways to oppose the shift, making good contact, and putting the ball in play.

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Peter Alonso, Seth Lugo, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Mar 31, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) celebrates with teammates after scoring in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports (Tommy Gilligan)
Mar 31, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) celebrates with teammates after scoring in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports (Tommy Gilligan)

The Mets won two of three games during their season-opening series against the Nationals this past weekend in Washington D.C. Here are three good and three not-so-good takeaways from the previous three games...

Trending Up 

1) The offense is no one-trick pony

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Peter Alonso, Seth Lugo, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Mar 28, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets first baseman Dominic Smith (22) is congratulated by New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) after scoring a run against the Washington Nationals during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)
Mar 28, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets first baseman Dominic Smith (22) is congratulated by New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) after scoring a run against the Washington Nationals during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)

In his first game of his second season, Mets manager Mickey Callaway had his team on autopilot through the first six innings. However, from that point on, Callaway had three important decisions to make, all of which worked out, though one could have come back to bite him...

Lugo for deGrom

In relief of Jacob deGrom, who tossed six beautiful innings, Callaway brought in reliever Seth Lugo, who tossed a perfect seventh inning by striking out the side. However, despite throwing just 15 pitches, Lugo was pulled in favor Jeurys Familia, who, in standard Familia fashion, allowed the tying run to get to the plate.

Tags: Dominic Smith, Jacob deGrom, Michael Conforto, Peter Alonso, Seth Lugo, Matthew Cerrone
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In the wake of making the postseason in 2015 and 2016, the Mets have gone 147-177, fired their manager, watched the face of their franchise retire, and have taken a gamble by hiring a former agent to lead their revival.

In five months, Brodie Van Wagenen has modernized the organization's front office and staff, has added five former All Stars, stabilized the depth and back end of the roster, and inked Jacob deGrom to a contract extension. At the same time, during the past two years, a shift has been created in the NL East with a large crop of young talent emerging and older players either leaving or switching teams.

The dust has settled and, to the surprise of most New York fans -- myself included -- the Mets are projected to contend for the NL East title. However, so are three other teams...

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Jason Vargas, Jeff McNeil, Jeurys Familia, Juan Lagares, Justin Wilson, Luis Guillorme, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Peter Alonso, Robert Gsellman, Robinson Cano, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Todd Frazier, Tyler Bashlor, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Mar 8, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) delivers a pitch against the Miami Marlins during a spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
Mar 8, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) delivers a pitch against the Miami Marlins during a spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

The way it stands, PECOTA (and most systems) project the Mets to be an 87-win team finishing second or third place in the NL East, while either winning a Wild Card spot or being right on the bubble.

However, in looking at the roster, I see these three players as having the potential to swing the above number in a significantly positive or negative direction based on what they provide in 2019.

Noah Syndergaard

Tags: Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Wilson Ramos, Matthew Cerrone
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Sep 17, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets left fielder Michael Conforto (30) hits an RBI double during the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Sep 17, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets left fielder Michael Conforto (30) hits an RBI double during the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The contract extension has been all the rage this past month in Major League Baseball.

In addition to Jacob deGrom inking a five-year, $137.5 million deal, Mike Trout (Angels), Chris Sale (Red Sox), Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals), Luis Severino (Yankees), Alex Bregman (Astros) and Aaron Nola (Phillies), among many others, have all recently signed contract extensions to remain long term with their current teams.

By doing so, in exchange for long-term security, each of the above players settled for slightly less money than they probably could have gotten as a free agent. Inversely, the team no longer has to fear losing the player to another team, and they also got the chance to restructure the remaining arbitration years.

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Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith (SNY)
Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith (SNY)

During the summer of 2017, Mets 1B Dominic Smith was considered the top first base prospect in the minors. He was promoted to the Mets a few weeks later, at which point he was widely considered to be their long-term, future first baseman.

He struggled at the plate and in the field and was later called out in public for his preparation and eating habits by then-GM Sandy Alderson. In response, Smith changed his diet, trimmed down, and returned to Triple-A in hopes of regaining the trust of the organization. 

Thanks to Alderson's remarks, Smith, 23, entered 2019 much like he entered 2018, questioning whether he had any sort of future in the big leagues.

Tags: Dominic Smith, Peter Alonso, Matthew Cerrone
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Robinson Cano back in New York 00:01:31
Take a deeper look at one of the newest Mets, Robinson Cano. The veteran is expected to bring a lot to New York, this season.

During their first meeting about 2019, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen and manager Mickey Callaway agreed that their roster needed a well-respected, accomplished, battle-tested player that could handle New York and provide a heavyweight presence in the clubhouse.

According to MLB sources familiar with the deal, Van Wagenen quickly identified Robinson Cano as a possible fit. It was well known the Mariners were eager to move his contract, which -- by the way -- Van Wagenen negotiated for Cano when representing him in 2014.

In return for taking on roughly half of the $120 million left on Cano's current contract, the Mets wanted closer Edwin Diaz. In the end, after shopping a similar deal to other teams, the M's sent Cano and Diaz to the Mets for top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, and prospect Gerson Bautista while no longer having to pay roughly $60 million in payroll during the next five years...

Tags: Robinson Cano, Matthew Cerrone
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Mar 11, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) connects for a double against the Houston Astros during a spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
Mar 11, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) connects for a double against the Houston Astros during a spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

Mets 1B prospect Pete Alonso hit his fourth home run of the spring on Sunday.

"I felt like last year I had a pretty solid year and I feel like this year I'm composing myself to have an even better year," Alonso recently told reporters in St. Lucie. 

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen and manager Mickey Callaway have repeatedly said they want to leave Florida with the best 25 guys on the Opening Day roster.

Tags: Pete Alonso, Matthew Cerrone
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