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.

Red Sox OF Mookie Betts
Red Sox OF Mookie Betts

MLB executives believe at least one of Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor or Kris Bryant will be traded this offseason, according to MLB.com's Jon Morosi.

The way I see it, of the three, Betts is most likely to find a new home. And he's a good fit for the Mets.

Bryant fits the Mets, too. I'm not convinced Chicago will end up trading him, though. Like with Lindor, while it's worth it for each team to listen to offers, the Cubs and Indians have these players under contract for more than just next season.

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Robinson Cano, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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In the last decade, fewer and fewer players are entering the free agent market when in their prime.

Instead, they tend to sign contract extensions in their younger years, swapping guaranteed money earlier in their career for more money during their prime seasons.

The following two position players, starting pitcher, and reliever are worthy of considering signing to a similar contract extension...

Tags: Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso, Seth Lugo, Matthew Cerrone
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Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler
Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler

GM Brodie Van Wagenen said Monday that he considers Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman possible options next year to join the team's starting rotation.

Technically, this is true. Van Wagenen is simply stating reality. However, I find it hard to believe this is the preferred outcome given how well Lugo pitched in relief this past season.

Similarly, because of his limited repertoire, Gsellman has long proven he's much more effective pitching in relief than in the starting rotation. In either case, as Van Wagenen said, they are options.

Here are four potential scenarios for how things could shake out with the starting rotation in 2020...

Tags: Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Cerrone
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Mets' Carlos Beltran (Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
Mets' Carlos Beltran (Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

Carlos Beltran wasn't my first choice to replace Mickey Callaway, but he was my second. 

Here are 5 reasons why I'm excited to have him back in the mix...

1) He's Carlos Beltran

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Matthew Cerrone
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Jun 6, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Dominic Smith (22) and New York Mets third baseman J.D. Davis (28) look at the scoreboard during game 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 first baseman Dominic Smith (22) and New York Mets third baseman J.D. Davis (28) look at the scoreboard during game against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

The following six players (and four others) all have value to the Mets, but may also have value to other teams via trade.

I asked two rival team executives and two people in player development if the Mets should keep or push to trade each player.

Here are the results along with my reaction...

Tags: Dominic Smith, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Wilson Ramos, Matthew Cerrone
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For the Mets to build on their 86 wins in 2019, second-year GM Brodie Van Wagenen has some serious work to do. First, the Mets need to figure out how much they're going to spend on player payroll for 2020. 

According to work done earlier this week by SNY.tv's Danny Abriano, if the Mets acquire no one and simply dish out raises eight of their arbitration-eligible players, they'll begin next season with a payroll of roughly $174 million.

In other words, unless the Mets are willing to increase their budget, which could bring them close to the $208 million Collective Bargaining Tax (CBT), Van Wagenen might have to get creative when looking to bring in new talent.

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Sep 25, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran (15) smiles after the benches clear during the second inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports (Andrew Dieb)
Sep 25, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran (15) smiles after the benches clear during the second inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports (Andrew Dieb)

In the wake of Joe Girardi joining the Phillies, the Mets are continuing their interview process with five known candidates to replace Mickey Callaway as their manager.

Here is what I like and dislike about each candidate...

My Top Choices...

Eduardo Perez (Former 1B, OF, 50 years old)

Why I like him: I hear Perez and I think MLB Network Radio. However, inside baseball, he's known for his outstanding work managing Columbia in the World Baseball Classic, as well as in Puerto Rico, where he won two Manager of the Year awards and multiple championships.

He also has experience as a big-league hitting coach and bench coach.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Jacob deGrom, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Matthew Cerrone
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J.D. Davis
J.D. Davis

To get back impact value in trade, it requires giving up impact value in trade.

And that's where the Mets' breakout hitter J.D. Davis comes into play.

Davis, 26, exceeded expectations in 2019, which marked his first full big-league season despite making his debut with the Astros in 2017. At the time of his first promotion, Davis had been Houston's ninth-best prospect.

Tags: Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, Todd Frazier, Matthew Cerrone
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Edwin Diaz
Edwin Diaz

It's easy to scapegoat Edwin Diaz for the Mets missing the postseason by just four games in 2019.

However, high-leverage relievers not named Mariano Rivera have a long history of up-and-down seasons, which is exactly why Diaz should be on next year's roster.

Things change and so can Diaz -- and he doesn't have to go far to get there...

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Matthew Cerrone
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Dominic Smith
Dominic Smith

Mets 1B Dominic Smith has gone from top prospect to major-league question in less than 18 months.

Entering 2017, the then-21-year-old Smith was ranked the organization's second-best prospect and the top first base prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.

However, the emergence of Pete Alonso in Triple-A in 2018 pushed aside Smith, who ended that season hitting just .224/.255/.420 while striking out in 23 percent of his at-bats. With Smith having struggled and Alonso having surged, Smith was asked to learn left field before the 2019 season. 

Tags: Dominic Smith, Pete Alonso, Matthew Cerrone
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Aug 4, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) hits an RBI double 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 second baseman Robinson Cano (24) hits an RBI double against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

These three Mets didn't have strong seasons in 2019, but there's reason to believe that the trio could turn things around in 2020 and beyond ... 

Robinson Cano

It was a tale of two seasons for Cano, who is 36 years old, under contract the next four years and due just under $80 million. The problem is, given his 2018 suspension for PEDs, his age and his up-and-down 2019, it's almost impossible to know what to expect of him in 2020. 

He started well, hitting .270 with three home runs through the end of April, and then everything fell apart. He looked out of sync at the plate and totally out of gas during May and June. Then came random injuries, issues with Mickey Callaway about running out ground balls and what seemed like a a trip to the injured list caused partially by spite.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, Matthew Cerrone
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New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen during the MLB annual spring training media day at Hilton in West Palm Beach. (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen during the MLB annual spring training media day at Hilton in West Palm Beach. (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets and Brodie Van Wagenen are knee-deep in their search for a new manager after recently firing Mickey Callaway. However, they're not the only team looking for a new leader and coaching staff for next season.

In the last few weeks, seven other teams began the same process, including the Phillies, who fired Gabe Kapler on Thursday.

I recently surveyed my usual group of insiders, which includes a handful of front office executives, talent evaluators, agents and former players, to learn how each opening should be viewed by potential managerial candidates.

Here is the final collective rankings, including who each team is rumored to be reportedly interviewing and if they overlap with the Mets. I then give my predictions for how this game of managerial musical chairs will end...

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Sep 4, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) and left fielder Jeff McNeil (6) celebrate after the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)
Sep 4, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) and left fielder Jeff McNeil (6) celebrate after the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)

The Mets and their fans were taken on an emotional roller coaster this past season, going from hopeful to hopeless, back to hopeful, then landing in a cold bucket of September reality.

"We're definitely not satisfied with where we're at," Michael Conforto told reporters after the team was eliminated from playoff contention on Sept. 25. "We want to play in October. That's the goal. I think we have the guys in here to do it. We have to put six months of baseball together and we didn't do that this year."

The bullpen has been the default answer when media and fans debate what the Mets need to improve when building a better team for 2020. However, for me, it's third on the list...

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Tyler Bashlor, Walker Lockett, Matthew Cerrone
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Jul 20, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) celebrates with shortstop Amed Rosario (1) after hitting a three-run home run against the San Francisco Giants in the sixth inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports (John Hefti)
Jul 20, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) celebrates with shortstop Amed Rosario (1) after hitting a three-run home run against the San Francisco Giants in the sixth inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports (John Hefti)

It didn't end the way we hoped, but the Mets' 2019 was nevertheless a year to remember...

MVP and Rookie of the Year

Pete Alonso

It can be argued that Jacob deGrom is the MVP. However, Alonso's impact was undeniable.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Jacob deGrom, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Todd Frazier, Matthew Cerrone
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Jul 2, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; General view of sunset behind Citi Field during the fifth inning between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jul 2, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; General view of sunset behind Citi Field during the fifth inning between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Mets had a roller coaster season -- again. They took us from optimism to the morgue, back to the peak of hope and then to a slow stop before the end of September.

It wasn't all for nothing, though. If Brodie Van Wagenen, his staff and players can learn from the following five lessons from this past season, they stand a better chance of success in 2020.

Don't panic, the Wild Card is wild

The no-name Brewers finished with the 10th-worst ERA and FIP and were the sixth-lowest scoring team in the National League. However, because they caught fire at the right time, they ran past the Mets and four other teams during September to win the second Wild Card spot.

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Oct 16, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) before game three of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Deutsch)
Oct 16, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) before game three of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Deutsch)

Being a manager in New York is a unique animal. It's a totally different gig than can be found in another market and certainly isn't for the faint of heart.

To be successful and survive in this town, which has two baseball teams -- one of which is the most successful in sports history -- it's my contention that the manager must have had previous success in front of New York fans and/or experience as a big-league manager.

It also helps if the person is battle-tested in front of dozens of local reporters, enters with a strong relationship with members of the media or has experience working on-air, such as Aaron Boone.

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Oct 23, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran (15) takes batting practice one day prior to game one of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports (Jayne Kamin-Oncea)
Oct 23, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran (15) takes batting practice one day prior to game one of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports (Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

Carlos Beltran has support throughout Brodie Van Wagenen's front office, and is one of the many names on their current list of potential managers, according to people close to both player and GM.

Beltran, 42, interviewed to manage the Yankees in 2017 just two weeks after winning a World Championship with the Astros and officially retiring as a player. He was later named a special adviser to Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

I loved Beltran as a player. He's largely misunderstood and under-appreciated, which is why he'll always be one of my favorites to ever wear a Mets uniform. However, this is also why I'm both leery and intrigued.

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Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen told reporters at the Winter Meetings last offseason that he wanted to acquire a tried-and-true, everyday center fielder. He went so far as to mention then-free agent A.J. Pollock by name when indicating the type of player he felt the team needed.

In the end, Pollock inked a five-year deal to join the Dodgers, while the Mets mostly used Juan Lagares in center field this season (where he was worth -2 DRS) while also giving time to Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and others.

If the Mets are again in the market for a center fielder this offseason, the Red Sox could come into play...

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Steven Matz, Matthew Cerrone
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Jun 28, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Jun 28, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

In his final start of the season, Jacob deGrom allowed just two hits while striking out seven during 7.0 scoreless innings against the Marlins. 

As a result, it seems like a lock that he will win his second consecutive Cy Young Award.

DeGrom leads all NL pitchers in WAR, regardless of the system being used to calculate the stat. He has 6.9 WAR, according to Baseball Reference and 6.7 WAR according to FanGraphs.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Matthew Cerrone
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A look at Zack Wheeler's market 00:01:15
BNNY and Adam Fisher debate whether Zack Wheeler is worth a 100 million dollars on the starting pitching market this offseason.

In addition to the Mets needing to finish hot in hopes of snatching the final Wild Card spot, it would help GM Brodie Van Wagenen's off-season strategy if the following four players finished strong as well:

Edwin Diaz

The difference between Diaz being a bust or being the closer he was for Seattle in 2018 will determine whether Van Wagenen feels the need to spend big this winter on another reliever.

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Mark Vientos (Tom Priddy, Four Seam Images)
Mark Vientos (Tom Priddy, Four Seam Images)

On Thursday, MLB.com named Mark Vientos as the Mets' Hitting Prospect of the Year.

Vientos' stats from this past season are not overly impressive as he hit .255 with a .300 OBP, 12 home runs and 27 doubles in 111 games in Single A. However, at just 19 years old and two years removed from being a senior in high school, because he made improvements and completed his first 100-game season, he is finally getting the recognition he deserves as a potential big-league third baseman.

"He's as close to a professional hitter as you'll find in the minors," a team insider told me during spring training. "He's got raw power, but needs to start going the other way more and reduce the hitch in his swing, which is something coaches will work on with him this spring."

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New York Mets' David Wright watches his two-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning of a baseball game in New York, Sunday, April 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)
New York Mets' David Wright watches his two-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning of a baseball game in New York, Sunday, April 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)

Pete Alonso is having one of the best seasons by a position player in Mets history.

He's already set numerous records, and since he should get another 40 at-bats or so this season, he will likely hit his 50th home run (and possibly more) before all is said and done.

He better win Rookie of the Year.

Tags: Pete Alonso, Matthew Cerrone
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May 2, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) shakes hands with catcher Wilson Ramos (40) after throwing a complete game shutout against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Syndergaard allowed four hits and a walk while striking out ten. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
May 2, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) shakes hands with catcher Wilson Ramos (40) after throwing a complete game shutout against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Syndergaard allowed four hits and a walk while striking out ten. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Instead of catering to Noah Syndergaard's request to pitch to Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera -- which they are reportedly doing on Wednesday -- they should be fixing the issue in order to make Wilson Ramos Syndergaard's top choice.

Bobby Valentine says it will take more than the just two players to resolve the issue.

"It's not just a player situation. It's a situation that involves the whole team," Valentine told me when recording the former Mets manager's new podcast, The Bobby V Experience. "I would involve the pitching coach, the catching coach, the catchers, and maybe a pitcher or two that understand where Syndergaard is coming from and figure out the true problem because sometimes it's only a make-shift problem."

Tags: Noah Syndergaard, Wilson Ramos, Matthew Cerrone
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 (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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