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.

 (Wendell Cruz)
(Wendell Cruz)

The Mets are one of nine teams to never have a player hit 50 home runs in single season.

Pete Alonso is three home runs short of removing the Mets from the list. He also has a good chance to break Yankees OF Aaron Judge's single-season rookie home run record of 52.

The above two records are nice. However, if Alonso remains healthy and strong as he gets older, 2019 will prove to be the beginning of what has the potential to be an incredible career.

Tags: Pete Alonso, Matthew Cerrone
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Sep 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) and New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto (30) hi five to celebrate the victory after the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports (Gregory Fisher)
Sep 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) and New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto (30) hi five to celebrate the victory after the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports (Gregory Fisher)

In addition to picking up 3.0 games in the standings, the Mets also need to leapfrog four teams -- Cubs, Phillies, Brewers and Diamondbacks -- in order to land in the Wild Card game.

The Mets' remaining schedule includes two games against the Diamondbacks, followed by playing the Dodgers, Rockies, Reds, Marlins and Braves. Unfortunately, out of the above teams, the Mets have only beaten up on Miami, have struggled against the Dodgers and Braves, and have played mostly even with the Rockies and Reds.

To be fair, the Mets have been performing much better than earlier in the season. Plus, 12 of their final 18 games are at Citi Field (including their final seven of the season). They are 40-29 at home, 34-41 on the road.

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Jun 26, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil (6) is congratulated by first baseman Pete Alonso (20) after hitting a home run during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Jun 26, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil (6) is congratulated by first baseman Pete Alonso (20) after hitting a home run during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

Though still possible, the likelihood of the Mets reaching the postseason is dwindling by the day.

As a result of losing six straight games to the Braves and Cubs, they now have just a 9.6 percent chance of reaching the playoffs down from a 51 percent just two weeks ago, according to FanGraphs.

Nevertheless, whether the Mets make the postseason or not, they will benefit this winter and next season thanks to what I consider five important positive developments during the past few months.

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Mets' Jeff McNeil
Mets' Jeff McNeil

In case you haven't noticed, Jeff McNeil has fallen in the race for the National League batting title. However, as his batting average has dropped, his power is up.

On July 30, McNeil led the batting title race with a .335 average. Dodgers OF Cody Bellinger was second, trailing by just one percentage point.

However, on Wednesday, McNeil is hitting .324, with Anthony Rendon of the Nationals now leading the league with a .338 average.

Tags: Jeff McNeil, Matthew Cerrone
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Jul 19, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports (Stan Szeto)
Jul 19, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports (Stan Szeto)

Home runs are nice, but I'll always prefer watching the elite pitching matchup, which is exactly what we're going to see tonight in Washington, D.C when the Mets face the Nationals.

Jacob deGrom (2.66 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 214 strikeouts in 169.0 innings) will start for the Mets.

Max Scherzer (2.46 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 200 strikeouts in 142.2 innings) will start for the Nationals.

Two aces. Face to face. And both again competing for the National League Cy Young Award.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Matthew Cerrone
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Brodie Van Wagenen
Brodie Van Wagenen

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen was right to handle the trade deadline the way he did, and that won't change no matter how the season ends. 

I would have done the opposite, which I explained in this article from July, during which point the Mets were nine games under .500 and six games out of a Wild Card spot. But four weeks removed, I can see and understand why Van Wagenen was a buyer not a seller.

Instead of acquiring prospects in exchange for Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Justin Wilson, Todd Frazier and others, Van Wagenen held on to his top players and used his own farm system to add Marcus Stroman.

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Aug 24, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) is congratulated after hitting a a three run home run against the Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning of an MLB Players' Weekend game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Aug 24, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) is congratulated after hitting a a three run home run against the Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning of an MLB Players' Weekend game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

The Mets went on an incredible, near-unbelievable run, but it had to end at some point. And the fact that they hit a wall this past weekend against the Braves is not a surprise, according to an NL talent evaluator.  

"They looked to be out of gas, which had to happen eventually," he told me.

About a month and a half ago, the Mets were 40-51 and just five losses away from having a worse record than the Marlins. The team then went 27-9 to bring themselves within 1.5 games of the final NL Wild Card spot.

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J.D. Davis (Adam Hunger)
J.D. Davis (Adam Hunger)

Jacob deGrom and the Mets start a huge three-game series against the Braves at Citi Field on Friday night.

It's nice to have the best pitcher in baseball taking the mound the day after completing a sweep of the Indians, who are just a half game back of the second American League Wild Card, isn't it?

The Mets have been hot, but so has Atlanta. Exactly like the Mets, the Braves have won 11 of their past 15 games. Unfortunately, two of those 11 wins came at New York's expense when the two teams met in Atlanta last week.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, Todd Frazier, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Pete Alonso, J.D. Davis celebrate as Mets face Indians (Adam Hunger)
Pete Alonso, J.D. Davis celebrate as Mets face Indians (Adam Hunger)

The Mets are entering the second game of a nine-game homestand against the Indians, Braves, and Cubs that could go a long way toward determining their fate when it comes to playing in October.

Here are five storylines to keep an eye on...

Will this homestand help or hurt?

At the end of the homestand, the Mets hit the road for six games against the Phillies and Nationals, both of whom are competing with New York for the NL Wild Card. This is all the more reason why it's important for the Mets to take advantage while they're home. 

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Steven Matz, Todd Frazier, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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In the span of two years, Mets shortstop Amed Rosario has gone from the top prospect in baseball to a defensive liability who could be moved to center field, to back to being a young star on the rise.

"My confidence has been at an all-time high," Rosario recently told Deesha Thosar of the Daily News. "I didn't start the season this great, but now it's been going well."

Rosario, who is still just 23 years old, had been struggling offensively earlier this season while making errors and mistakes in the field. However, during his most recent 100 or so games, he's batting around .300 and has returned to being the quick and slick fielder he projected to be when he was in the minor leagues...

Tags: Amed Rosario, Todd Frazier, Matthew Cerrone
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Aug 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Michael Conforto (30) celebrates with his teammates after hitting a walk off RBI single to beat the Washington Nationals 7-6 at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Aug 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Michael Conforto (30) celebrates with his teammates after hitting a walk off RBI single to beat the Washington Nationals 7-6 at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

The National League Wild Card race is exactly how it is described: wild.

The Nationals and Cardinals continue to cling to the top of the standings. However, entering play today, five teams are within five games of the final postseason spot.

There are roughly 47 days and 40 or so games left in the season, depending on each team's respective schedule. Here is a breakdown of their chances, strengths, and weaknesses...

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Aug 4, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Mets catcher Tomas Nido (3) and relief pitcher Jeurys Familia (27) celebrate after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. The Mets won 13-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Aug 4, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Mets catcher Tomas Nido (3) and relief pitcher Jeurys Familia (27) celebrate after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. The Mets won 13-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

The time is quickly approaching for Mickey Callaway to lock in on roles for his relievers.

By taking two of three this past weekend from the Nationals, the Mets proved they are more than just a team that can make up ground by beating on teams below .500. And at just one game back of Washington for the final Wild Card spot and 44 games left in the season, most of which will be against other teams in contention, Callaway can't risk his bullpen reverting to what it was before July.

Sadly, had the bullpen performed just average -- instead of losing an NL-worst 17 games the first three months of the season -- they would likely be leading the Wild Card and a just few games behind the NL East-leading Braves.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Ruben Tejada (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports Images)
Ruben Tejada (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports Images)

The Mets have launched themselves back in to a pennant race, which has opened the floodgates for questions about the current roster, schedule and missing players.

Here are four from Twitter, followed by my answers....

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Ruben Tejada, Seth Lugo, Matthew Cerrone
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Jun 5, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets shortstop Amed Rosario (1) and New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto (30) celebrate 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 shortstop Amed Rosario (1) and New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto (30) celebrate after defeating the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

In many ways, the Mets' playoff run starts tonight at Citi Field against the Nationals.

The Mets have spent the better part of the past three weeks beating up on the league's worst teams, pushing them from being seven games under .500 to just a half-game back of the second Wild Card spot.

It's been a fun, wonderful run, but we will soon find out if it was a simply a summer fling or a true realization of their original expectations for 2019.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Luis Avilan, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Wilson Ramos, Matthew Cerrone
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Aug 4, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Mets left fielder J.D. Davis (28) hits an RBI single against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Aug 4, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Mets left fielder J.D. Davis (28) hits an RBI single against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

For the past few weeks, the Mets have had a top outfield in the National League. Since the All-Star break, they've been the best, which is something I never expected to be saying when leaving Spring Training four months ago.

Their Opening Day outfield featured Michael Conforto in right field, Juan Lagares in center field and Brandon Nimmo in left field. The trio did well through the middle of May. However, after Nimmo went down with a bulging cervical disc, the group broke apart.

During the 30 games after Nimmo's injury, Brodie Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway turned to six other fielders to fill the void, all which combined to be the third least-productive outfield in the NL. In fact, for most of late May, the outfield always included two of Carlos Gomez, Keon Broxton, Lagares or Aaron Altherr, two of whom (Gomez and Broxton) have since been designated for assignment and are now playing with other organizations. 

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto, Wilson Ramos, Matthew Cerrone
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Jul 31, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports (Mike Dinovo)
Jul 31, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports (Mike Dinovo)

It started by trading for Marcus Stroman.

To be fair, just prior to Stroman joining the Mets rotation, the team's starting pitchers had produced the fourth-most WAR among NL staffs. So it's not like they were struggling.

But the day Brodie Van Wagenen added Stroman, FanGraphs projected the Mets would elevate to being the best rotation in baseball for the remainder of the season.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman

During his six years in the majors, Marcus Stroman has made opposing hitters repeatedly put the ball on the ground. This has led to countless, obvious articles being written about how the Mets' poor infield defense will hurt his effectiveness.

This is not untrue, but it's also not as extreme as people think.

For instance, as Eno Sarris of FanGraphs recently pointed out, while the Mets do have weak infielders, the Blue Jays have been nearly as bad -- giving up a .256 average on ground balls compared to New York's .264 average. In total, Sarris explains, this amounts to roughly the handling of 50 more ground balls, of which 40 or so were rated routine.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil, Robinson Cano, Matthew Cerrone
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Jul 30, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets center fielder Michael Conforto (30) celebrates his solo home run with first baseman Pete Alonso (20) during the eleventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports (Patrick Gorski)
Jul 30, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets center fielder Michael Conforto (30) celebrates his solo home run with first baseman Pete Alonso (20) during the eleventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports (Patrick Gorski)

The Mets suddenly have a reasonable chance at winning the second Wild Card. And I'll admit it -- as recently as just two weeks ago, I didn't expect to be writing those words.

To be fair, I'm not yet fully convinced that their current seven-game winning streak is an indication of how they'll perform during this season's final 54 games. Then again, there are two reasons to think they may be able to win enough games -- probably 33 or so -- to climb over the four games and three teams between them and playing in October.

Mickey Callaway's squad has won 13 of their last 18 games, all of which started the day after the All Star break. This is impressive, but 12 of those games were against teams who are below .500. Four were against the Giants (under .500 at the time, over. 500 now, and two were against the Twins). The easy schedule continues through next Thursday's off-day, prior to which the Mets travel to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates and then host the Marlins for four games at Citi Field.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Jason Vargas, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Brodie Van Wagenen (Matthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com)
Brodie Van Wagenen (Matthew Cerrone, MetsBlog.com)

By keeping his best talent and replacing his No. 5 starter with an ace, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen signaled to his players, Mets fans and all of baseball that he believes his team can still find its way into the 2019 postseason.

If there is a shot at winning around 35 of their remaining 55 games, it will be because the new Fab Five of Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz consistently pitch to their potential.

"I was praying we didn't trade any of those guys that we're being rumored about," Stroman said late Wednesday. "I actually think we can have the best staff in all of baseball."

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Justin Wilson, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Zack Wheeler
Zack Wheeler

Despite tons of rumors, Zack Wheeler remained with the Mets past the trade deadline. And Wheeler sticking with the Mets might not just be a two-month thing, with Brodie Van Wagenen saying Wednesday that they view him as a potential long-term answer.

So Wheeler's tenure with the Mets continues, and it's one that has been a very interesting journey, starting in 2011.

Heading into the All-Star break that year, the Mets were 46-45, but 11 games out of first place while 7.5 games back and trailing five teams for the Wild Card. 

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Jason Vargas, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Brodie Van Wagenen
Brodie Van Wagenen

Brodie Van Wagenen is confident. Or, at the very least, he doesn't see himself as being in the business of rebuilding the Mets. Instead, his goal continues to be to win and, like he said this past winter, win now.

Otherwise, he would have accepted one of the many offers he reportedly received for Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Edwin Diaz

The plan for this post was to break down the moves or lack of moves made by Wagenen. However, the story of this year's trade deadline is less about what he did and more about what he didn't do...

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Jun 20, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Walker Lockett (61) delivers against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)
Jun 20, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Walker Lockett (61) delivers against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)

Last week, an old friend now in scouting with an AL team called to ask me if there was any hype from the Mets about pitcher Walker Lockett, who I admittedly knew little about at the time he was acquired.

"He's always had the build, arm strength and makeup to be a stable, back-of-the-rotation innings eater," the scout said, all of which was news to me. "I liked him back in San Diego the first time I saw his sinker-slider combo and ¾ arm slot."

Lockett was drafted out of high school by the Padres in the fourth round in 2012.

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Jun 23, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitch hitter Will Smith (16) hits a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Colorado Rockies 6-3 at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Hanashiro)
Jun 23, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitch hitter Will Smith (16) hits a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Colorado Rockies 6-3 at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Hanashiro)

The Mets don't have to be just sellers or just buyers at the trade deadline. They can be both...

It doesn't happen often, especially in New York, but smart organizations -- like Billy Beane's Athletics -- often acquire and trade away young, controllable talent simultaneously regardless of whether they are or aren't contending for the playoffs.

During the next week, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen should do his best to take a page out of Beane's book, especially since fewer and fewer elite players are making it to free agency these days.

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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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