Deep Dive: Taking a look at the Trade Additions

Yesterday the Mets made a trade to get Elieser Hernandez and Jeff Brigham from the Marlins for Franklyn Sanchez. This move was mainly made to get the Mets some much needed depth, as both still have options and can be sent to AAA.

Depth is extremely important for every ballclub and the Mets are fixing that issue fairly soon in the offseason. With this move the Mets added a relief arm in Brigham and a starting pitcher in Hernandez. So let’s take a deeper look into these two arms.

Elieser Hernandez

Let’s start with Elieser Hernandez. A 27 year old righty that has been with the Marlins for his whole MLB Career. He made his MLB debut in 2018 but had his best years in 2020 and 2021. In 2020, he helped the Marlins to the Postseason with a 3.16 ERA in 6 starts. His 2021 was solid with a 4.18 ERA in 11 starts. However, his 2022 was dreadful as he pitched to an ugly 6.35 ERA over 62.1 innings.

So what was his main issue in 2022? His slider. After three straight years with a positive run value on his slider (-13 between 2019 and 2022), his run value on that pitch was a negative plus 6 in 2022. So what was the reason for that drop off success with that pitch?

Main difference in his slider is his horizontal movement. After three seasons where his horizontal movement was average or better, he lost his movement with one of the worst inches of break in the league in 2022. That’s after he had one of the better horizontal break in 2020 (video below), in his best season yet. It resulted in a major downgrade in his expected slugging against for Hernandez as he went from .340 expected slugging to .430 from 2021 to 2022.

Even with the lost of his slider, he had an expected ERA of 4.81, which obviously isn’t great but also shows some lack of luck. If the Mets are able to get Hernandez to refind his slider, he could be a serviceable depth starter for this team.

Jeff Brigham

Brigham is a 30 year old reliever who has battled numerous arm injuries over his career. When healthy in 2022, he was solid throwing his slider-fastball combination at hitters. In 2022, Brigham owned a 3.38 ERA over 24 innings, with 28 strikeouts. It was his first true succesfull stint.

2022 was the first season Brigham started to throw his slider more then his fastball. It resulted in a good year with solid numbers across the board. The run value on both his slider (-4) and fastball (-2) were above average for the first time in his career. Throwing his slider more also got his run value on his fastball above average for the first time. So clearly that adjustment paid off even when it was a small sample-size.

His slider is clearly his best pitch with an expected slash against him off .242/.305/.349 with a 22.2% hard hit rate. His fastball still gets hit fairly hard (expected OPS against .747, so pitching that less and less seems like a strong way to go.

In the end, both of these arms are depth. Especially Brigham, he would most likely see time with the big club and will battle for a spot during spring. Hernandez to me is more seen as AAA depth to make a spot start or do some mop up work. That being said, I believe this is solid depth for the big league club.

Photo Credit: MLB Trade Rumors on Twitter

Leadership: What is it?

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on here I know, but this has been on my mind for some time and especially during the Mets recent atrocious skid.

So, What is leadership exactly? Is it showing a bright and happy face during Pre and Post game interviews? Is it keeping positive energy and good vibes during bad times? Lots of fans question whether the Mets have real leadership. While I can certainly understand why, I think fans need a real understanding on what leadership is.

Look no further than one Francisco Lindor, An on the Field leader who whenever he plays and is on the field, you see him calming guys down, reassuring his teammates, keeping positive vibes while at the same time, keeping it real and honest when things are rough. Now, that’s not a knock on Pete Alonso who is an optimist and likes to put a positive spin on things. Let it be known, there is nothing wrong with that at all. What fans are doing is destroying Pete Alonso for being positive and for him feeling like he doesn’t need to point out the obvious. Some players will call it like it is, some players will see the light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel (Positive outlook) and some players will be in the middle, Positive with some realistic view.

Here’s the issue though….Fans, Media, Talking heads, bloggers, myself included don’t know what goes on in the Clubhouse behind closed doors and we will never know. Are guys losing their minds? Are guys just Happy-go-Lucky? Is Luis Rojas digging it into them? Is he cheering the lack of Offense? We’ll never know and that’s something that benefits the team. What the fans, Media, Talking Heads, Bloggers don’t know is best. But let’s not take that too far, Remember the Rat/Raccoon fiasco? Everyone was miffed that the Mets weren’t “Honest” about what happened and honestly, good that they didn’t. Media, fans, Talking Heads and Bloggers have ways of blowing things out of proportion. But now I digress.

We’ve seen this team literally plummet harder than Tom Petty’s Free Falling and yet instead of being doom and gloom about it, the Mets as a whole are having positive energy. Hate him all you want, but Luis Rojas has kept his guys motivated through this awful stretch. Also, Even though the Mets are now 7 games back of the now First place Atlanta Braves, Rojas helped kept an injury riddled Mets team in First place for 90 consecutive days when the Mets were using their C and D squad players.

Now here’s the point I’m making. When Francisco Lindor went down with his oblique injury, It reflected on how much he was missed on the Field. It’s one thing to be in the Dugout on the Injured list and be a Leader, but there’s a Humongous difference when a star player or a Leader is on the field playing along side you. Examples are going to pitchers mound visits to reassure pitchers that everything’s going to be fine/helping him calm down and feed him a positive outlook on the situation. Since Lindor went down, the Leadership isn’t the same and other players have tried to take over that role in his absence.

Pete Alonso is one of those guys trying to “Hold down the Fort” so-to-speak. Is it working? I wouldn’t immediately shoot it down, but is he has good as Lindor? From what we can see, no he isn’t. Again, that’s not a knock against Alonso, He has his own way of being a Leader. The same goes with Luis Rojas, While it may look like he looks uninspiring, lost or even unintelligent, He knows what he’s doing (as far as what the analytics department allows him to do). In terms of keeping his team motivated, standing up for his guys and showing he believes in them, he’s got it down to a science. To question him on standing up for his players is ludicrous. You see it all the time when barking at umpires, questioning calls, you name it. His players could be 100% wrong in whatever play was made or with a call regarding a ball or strike, but he’ll go out there and fight for his guys. That’s what a real good manager does for his team. You also see that the players love playing for him and do whatever they can for him, including some late game rallies. That’s not saying they’ve been doing it recently, but The Players do love his influence as well as how he handles media and stands up for them.

While some fans, Media, Talking heads and bloggers may find this asinine and want Managers to be like those of the managers “back in the day” like Billy Martin, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter and some even may reference Wally Backman out of all names, Managers in today’s game simply don’t do that anymore, It’s one of the reasons why Joe Girardi was canned as Yankees manager. He called out Gary Sanchez a few times and the organization as well as the Player(s) hated that. While I admit that players should grow more of a backbone and suck it up, That’s how players are nowadays. There’s just no changing that and the game has changed dramatically.

Leadership now is how you defend your players, are there for your team and how you keep them motivated and how you face the Media at times. Whether you agree with it or not, that’s how the game has evolved now. There’s nothing anyone can do to change that. Leadership for an MLB team is also how you conduct yourself after a good or bad performance and how you respond to others or even how you talk to the Media. Most responses are PR responses/right things to say and you can certainly understand that, However there are something that players say that you really need to read between the lines with and not see it as a general statement or what fans claim as “Delusional” or “in Denial”.

I’ll reiterate, what fans, Media, Talking heads, bloggers don’t know what happens behind closed doors in the clubhouse is for the better. They don’t need to know and it’s best left to the Players, coaches, Manager, Front Office Executives and Owner(s).

Analytical Management: The New Feel For The Game.

Here’s a thought:

When the Mets fired Dave Eiland back in 2019, the pitching started to get better. His methods were “Old school” and players were having trouble adapting to his methods and teachings. When Phil Regan (GOAT/Vulture) took over, the Mets pitching seemed to have gotten better. Regan followed the Analytics while also implementing his own experience, but mostly putting the analytical data first.

Chili Davis and Tom Slater had old school methods and approaches. Now that they’re gone, the Mets are going with…You guessed it, more of an analytical approach. Hense why they brought Hugh Quattlebaum and Kevin Howard. Both worked in the Minor leagues. Hugh as the Minor League Coordinator and Howard as the Farm director….In other words, heavy in analytics.

The Struggles of Francisco Lindor didn’t help their case, but neither did the struggles of the offense as a whole, including struggling with RISP with the exception of recently in the Series win in Philadelphia.

As for Luis Rojas, his job is completely safe. He’s an analytics first manager like most in the league, meaning that most/If not all of his decisions are based off of Analytics. This includes writing the lineup (Written for him), In game decisions, which pitchers to bring in at which times, you name it. No manager has full say anymore in today’s game with everyone so heavily sold on analytics, with the exception being the Phillies in Joe Girardi, who demanded he have control of writing the lineup before he signed on to be the manager for Philly.

Although I don’t agree with it at all, MLB has been trending in this direction since if I were to guess, 2016/2017. The art of a manager actually managing a game, those days are long gone now. The manager is now a scapegoat while the analytics department gets the ultimate free pass. Every team now invests heavily in analytics. It’s the way of the game nowadays sadly. You can say to hell with the stats, but that’s ultimately what’s driving the game. It’s no longer a feel for the game anymore, unless you feel the analytics.

Mets Offense Concerning?

The Mets offense is bad. They aren’t hitting with a .690 combined OPS during the first 19 games. Clearly the main issue for the Mets is power, but they also lack the big hit. And for some Mets players, it’s a career issue.

Yes, I am aware that we are just 19 games into a 162 game season and this offense should deliver at some point. But one thing is concerning to me is the lack of performance in high leverage spots. One player that came to mind was Pete Alonso. I love Pete but when watching the Mets, Pete takes on way too much on his shoulders and tend to chase in high leverage situations.

As you can see in the graphic above, Alonso has way more success in low leverage situations (.989OPS). While his medium and high leverage are about the same, the difference between in OPS in high and low leverage is a shocking .164 points. In 2020, Pete was good in high leverage situations but so far this year he has a .597 OPS in high leverage spots. Definitely something to keep an eye on going forward for Pete. Still an OPS above .800 is above average but the difference stays a lot.

Another hitter who gets a ton of heat when the game in on the line is Michael Conforto. And yes, there is something to be said about this. Conforto’s OPS stands at .787 in high leverage situations with a 87 OPS+. Both below average for a above average overall hitter.

Two more homegrown talented players who have struggled in high leverage situations are Jeff McNeil and Dominic Smith. Both are way worse like Alonso and Conforto in those situations. To me McNeil surprised me, but I also see him putting a lot of pressure on himself. McNeil has a below average OPS+ on high and medium leverage situations. (See below)

Smith on the other hand thrives in medium leverage situations with a 158 OPS+ but struggles mightly in high leverage spots with a shocking 48 OPS+. (See below)

As we can see this is a big part of the Mets lineup that has issues. But end with a high note. Brandon Nimmo is raking in his career in high leverage spots with a .888 OPS, best of all the leverage spots in his career. Keep it up Brandon!

To conclude, the Mets have a big part of their homegrown lineup struggling in high leverage spots in their career, so it is not just these 19 games in 2021. Yes, this lineup main issue is power right now. The power will come and will definitely help get runs on the board. However, this high leverage spots are concerning. Yes, I am aware that most likely hitters have more trouble in big spots, but the differences are alarming.

Are you concerned with the Mets offensive struggles?

Photo by: SNY Twitter

Long Term Lindor: The Mets Season Prediction(s)

Well, It certainly has been a long time since I wrote an article. I hope you’re all ready for an in depth analysis of the Mets season. No, I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty of everything, but I will give you where the Mets will place in the Division as well as why I feel they will be where they’ll land and if they’ll make the playoffs or not. Before you ask….No, I will not go into individual player stats. It’s too tedious.

First, Let’s tackle the Mets recent signing shall we?

As of late March 31st, The Mets signed the Elite shortstop Francisco Lindor to a 10 year 341 Million Dollar extension which includes some deferred payments, a Limited 15 team no Trade clause from 2022 till 2025 and a Full no trade clause starting in 2026 till 2031. This deal was key for the Mets and especially for the Mets new Billionaire owner Steve Cohen. Lindor was a key acquisition in the off-season for the Mets as well as Carlos Carassco, who is currently on the Injured List due to a Torn hamstring. Lindor being locked up for 10 years (11 technically) shows how the Mets are committed long term to success and not mediocrity. The Mets look to compete for years to come and not just “Tread water” like they have for the past several years. This signing of Lindor set the market for other shortstops who are free agents this upcoming off-season such as Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Javier Baez and others. A Market for a Shortstop the Mets won’t have to worry about for a Long time.

On to the Prediction.

Where will the Mets place? Will they win the Division? Will they be bottom feeders? Will they be treading water? Will they be average at best?

My prediction for the Mets will be:

The Mets will finish in 2nd place of the National League East Division with around 86-92 wins with a Wild Card playoff spot. I find it very hard to believe that the Mets will topple the Braves for the 1st place spot in the division with the Braves being stacked. That’s no insult to the Mets, I just can’t envision a scenario where the Mets take the division against a Healthy Braves team. The only way I see the Mets taking the Division is if the Braves are overcome by a Bevy of injuries and the Mets go on an absolute torrent down the stretch from the word “Go”.

With that being said, The Mets will have their hands full with a very competitive National League East Division in the form of not only the Braves, but the Nationals (COVID Riddled right now) and the Phillies. I don’t think the Marlins will be as good as they were in the 60 game 2020 season, but I think they’ll make it difficult for other teams, a Pesky team is what I think the Marlins will be. A Team that won’t make the playoffs, but will be a thorn in your side.

I can definitely see a 4 way race to the Division with the Braves winning it overall, but I see more of a 3 way Race in the National League East for the second Wild Card spot for the National League between the Mets, Nationals and Phillies. Ultimately, I feel the Phillies will wet the bed during the final stretch and it’ll be the Mets and Nationals going neck and neck with the Mets pulling in front with the Last few games. I can’t see any teams from the National League Central Division or even the National League Western Division. The West will bring the Padres in the First Wild Card spot with the Dodgers in the driver’s seat for the division. As for the Central, I think it goes to the Cardinals, although I wouldn’t be surprised at all Cubs somehow pull away with the Division title.

Back to the Mets.

I know some people saw the Prediction based on whatever website it was saying the Mets would take away the East division with the Braves landing in fourth place. I don’t know who made that prediction nor do I want to know what they either Smoked, drank, snorted or gear cranked to make that prediction. I can tell you that The Mets don’t have a division winning roster at least in the Eastern Division. If they were in the American League West Division, American League Central Division, National League Central Divison or even a Braves-less National League East Division, I can see them Winning the division. This Braves team is just too good in my opinion.

Could the Mets win the Division? Absolutely! In 162 games, there’s always a chance (Unless you’re the Pittsburgh Pirates, Then you have no chance at winning more than 40 games or even 30 games for that matter). In all honesty, The Mets have a chance to win the Division, but I doubt they win it. But then again, in a 162 game season, anything can happen.

For now, I stand with my prediction and if anything drastically changes, You’ll see another long, well thought out article from me!

Enjoy Opening Day on Saturday (Hopefully and unfortunately) my Mets brothers and sisters! LETS GO METS!!!

Breaking Down: Joey Lucchesi Final Spring Start

Joey Lucchesi made his final push to make the Mets in yesterday’s outing. Technically it wasn’t a start as Lucchesi came in after “opener” Jacob Barnes.

Joey Lucchesi was splendid and in my opinion earned the spot on the Mets roster. So let’s break down his recent outing.

Lucchesi started sharp in his first inning, getting Tucker to ground out after three pitches. Lucchesi followed with getting big lefty hitting Alvarez on a fly out. 5 pitches, 5 strikes for Lucchesi. His last batter in the first was Gurriel, who struck out.

Lucchesi started the at bat with two fastballs up and away to the right hitter. After getting behind, Lucchesi threw a nasty Churve down in the zone. The Churve had a vertical break of 48 Inches as it broke thru the down. Gurriel swung over it, to get Lucchesi back in the at bat.

Lucchesi followed with a 92.4mph sinker on the inside corner, after Gurriel fouled off a Churve, Lucchesi got the call on a nasty Churve on the inside corner to fan Gurriel looking. Great efficiënt first inning for the lefty.

Lucchesi got a quick first out in his second inning, getting Jason Castro to ground to third after 3 sinkers. He went with the Churve to get young Jose Siri for the second out.

Siri was overmatched by the Churve as Lucchesi got him after three straight Churves, the last one got 49 inches of vertical drop. deGoti followed with a baseline to Lindor, who almost made a sparkling play to get him. Lucchesi allowed the hit on the Churve after getting ahead with two sinkers. It didn’t hurt him as Altuve grounded to second on a sinker.

Lucchesi third inning started with a quick out to get Brantley. Bregman followed with a first pitch single, going after the first pitch sinker.

Tucker grounded out after Lucchesi got behind 3-0 on a get me over sinker, but Lucchesi got help from McNeil who robbed Tucker with a diving stop. Yes, Lucchesi got help from his defense, but Tucker didn’t hit the ball hard (81.7 MPH Exit Velo).

Lucchesi got out of the inning with a hard ground ball from Alvarez, who grounded out to McNeil on the sinker. Lucchesi got a bit lucky as Alvarez ground out had a .710 expected BA.

The fourth Lucchesi inning, started with a first pitch ground out on his sinker from Gurriel. He followed with striking out Castro on a foul tip. He started the at bat with a churve that got 52 inches of vertical break, his best of the day. He followed with Sinker, Churve, Sinker, to get the foul tip.

He walked Jose Siri, surprisingly after mainly throwing sinkers. Siri struck out on 3 Churves and Lucchesi threw just one in the walk to Siri in the fifth.

Lucchesi got out of the inning by getting deGoti on a very slow grounder. He got to 0-2 after three sinkers and got the 65mph exit velo force out, on the Churve.

Altuve struck out to open the sixth as Lucchesi got him looking on an inside corner sinker. Lucchesi pitched him inside in the entire at bat. Lucchesi got behind with the Churve (down and in) and Sinker (up and in) 2 and 0. Altuve got the pitch to hit with the 2-0 sinker in the middle of the zone. Altuve fouled it off, to help Lucchesi out. After a called strike up and in the zone, Altuve fouled off the Churve. Lucchesi then surprised him with a inside corner sinker. Great sequence to get Altuve looking.

After Brantley grounded out to short, we’re Lindor ragned to his left for the out.

Lucchesi fell behind 3-1 to Bregman, that he paid for. Bregman got a sinker in the middle of the zone and hit it 413ft. It was the last pitch Lucchesi threw after a very strong outing.

With this outing Lucchesi put himself in the rotation. He mixed up his pitches really well and spotted it well for the most part of his outing. His Churve has been nasty this spring as he got 41.2% whiff rate.

Lucchesi got a lot of quick outs and didn’t allow a ton of foul balls. He threw 43 strikes in his 62 total pitches, which shows his great control in the outing. Also good to see that he got 8 ground outs and four strikeouts in the outing. In the graphic below you see he mostly sits around the corners, which some obviously in the middle. Impressive to see how much he was around or in the zone.

Overall Lucchesi has been splendid over 13 innings of work. He allowed just 7 hits, 4 walks, while striking out 15. With his 2.77 ERA, he has earned his spot.

Photo by: Joey Lucchesi Twitter

Who Fills Carlos Carrasco’s Spot in the Rotation?

With the injury today of Carlos Carrasco, there becomes two major questions: will he be ready to go for the first turn in the rotation, and if not, who takes his place?

Earlier this morning, March 18, the Mets announced that Carlos Carrasco has a strained hamstring. This injury could take varying amounts of time. Until we have more clarity about how long this will sideline the starting pitcher, we have to wonder who will take his rotation if he is not ready for opening day. Carrasco is currently awaiting the results of an MRI, which should provide more answers.

(THIS IS ALL ASSUMING HE IS HURT ON OPENING DAY)

The Rotation Right Now

  1. Jacob DeGrom
  2. Marcus Stroman
  3. Carlos Carrasco (INJURED)
  4. Taijuan Walker
  5. David Peterson

There was a lot of discussion as to whether David Peterson would be the five starter for the Mets on opening day, but now there is no question that he will be in the rotation.

The primary question now, is who will be the new number five? This is where the depth the Mets acquired in the off-season finally pays off.

The Candidates

The candidates are players that I believe have earned the right to be in this spot, not just any starting pitcher eligible.

Jordan Yamamoto

Jordan Yamamoto has been overly impressive this Spring. Yamamoto, 25, has pitched in 3 games this spring. He has pitched to a 1.08 ERA with a 0.960 WHIP over 8.1 IP. Granted, it is Spring Training, but Spring Training right now is the best evaluator of how he will pitch this season. I believe he has earned the right to be in the starting rotation, but there are still more pitchers to overview.

Robert Gsellman?

The main reason I have a question mark next to Gsellman’s name is because I’m not sure if he is ready to be a starter, or if the Mets want him to be. However, Gsellman has been having a good Spring. He hasn’t started yet, but was a starter at the beginning of his career with the Mets. He has pitched to a 2.25 ERA over 4 IP so far in Spring Training. The main issue is his WHIP- 1.750. He has given up six hits in those four innings, which leads to concerns about his ability to be a solid pitcher, let alone a starter. Either way, there should be a discussion had because of his past as a starter on the team.

Joey Lucchesi

The Mets three-team trade pickup has been dominant this Spring. He has pitched in 5 innings through two games, and has not given up a run. He also has been keeping people off base, with a 0.600 WHIP. The only baserunners he has allowed have come on three walks. Lucchesi has also struck out seven batters this spring. I think Lucchesi has a very good chance at cracking the rotation. He has a similar past in the Majors to Yamamoto, and has looked better in the Spring. The other thing that is in Lucchesi’s favor is his arm. He is a left-handed pitcher, something the Mets are always yearning to have more of. Having David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi in the rotation back-to-back would be tough for opponents. This is because teams normally need to change up their batting order to tackle a lefty.

Mike Montgomery

Montgomery is an interesting one. Another lefty, Montgomery has past starting experience. However, the Mets initial plan with him was to be a bullpen depth piece. That being said, the opportunity for him to start has to be discussed. He has only pitched in two games this Spring, but Luis Rojas said that they intend to stretch him out. Doing so allows the Mets to see how he will handle starting, and pitching long into games.

Corey Oswalt

This is a name that will probably confuse people. Oswalt is also the most high-risk high-reward player here. He was unbelievably dominant in his first and only outing of the Spring. He threw two innings, didn’t give up a baserunner, and struck out five. Those are numbers that someone would expect from Jacob DeGrom. Oswalt obviously needs more opportunities in the Spring, but those numbers normally would make him a clear favorite. However, it is his past at the MLB level. Oswalt has pitched to a career 6.19 ERA in 23 games, splitting time as a starter and reliever over the course of three seasons.

Who Gets the Spot?

I think there are really only three players that are finalists here- Jordan Yamamoto, Joey Lucchesi, and Corey Oswalt.

My personal choice would be Joey Lucchesi. I believe he has a very high upside, and having another lefty arm in the rotation can be very important for a few starts. Granted, this may only be for one or two starts at the beginning of the season, but this may actually matter more than most may think. The person that gets this spot, is also considered the top backup for when anyone else is injured.

As of right now, Lucchesi has impressed me the most. However, I think it will come down to who puts out the best final Spring Training starts.

Photo credit New York Post