After a much-needed day off, the return of Tim Anderson/demotion of Ryan Cordell, and (so far) much ado about nothing on the trade front, the Chicago White Sox are ready for the circus to come to town: Step right up and watch the New York Mets’ front office ineptitude unfold before your very eyes!
I actually don’t hate the Mets. I have a Mets t-shirt. I’ve always empathized with the long-suffering “second team” that “doesn’t have enough fans to fill a stadium” and seldom receives the same amount of recognition as their pinstriped neighbors to the North. Sound familiar? The original “Lovable Losers” parallel our Pale Hose in several ways, most notably for being known as a team that doesn’t spend big money. To be fair, they might not have any money, as what wasn’t lost through Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme is probably owed to Bobby Bonilla every year until 2035.
Me too, guys. We just dropped a home series to the Miami Marlins.
Sunday afternoon, the Mets acquired 2017 Gold Glove winner/2019 All-Star pitcher Marcus Stroman and cash from the Toronto Blue Jays for pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson. Stroman, a Queens native, was less than overjoyed by the news and had a meltdown in the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse because he “thought he was going to a contender” and seemed to want to stay in the American League. He did some damage control via Twitter, saying it was a heat-of-the-moment reaction, and seems to have come around on his new team.
Why They Hate Us: Former White Sox pitchers Addison Reed and Bartolo Colón teamed up to hand the Kansas City Royals their 2015 World Series trophy by allowing five runs in the top of the 12th inning of Game 5. Blame Don Cooper, probably.
Why We Hate Them: Their Alonso is a walking highlight reel and our Alonso GIDP’ed his way onto the cutting room floor.
The Mets’ 50-55 record is almost as bad as ours at 46-57, which seems odd considering they have the second-highest batting average in the league in Jeff McNeil and the reigning Home Run Derby champion and all-around phenom Pete Alonso, who leads the league in nearly everything else.
It seems that both teams just cannot stay out of their own ways. On paper the Mets look like a team that would be better than fourth place. Two sluggers and a Cy Young-winning pitcher is a recipe for domination. They had a rough June and lost a bunch of games by one or two runs, but some of their problems stem from the front office and the bad energy seeping out of every one of Brodie Van Wagenen’s pores. The agent-turned GM is a loose cannon, telling manager Mickey Callaway to pull a starting pitcher via text from his home in June and then launching a chair at Callaway in July, telling him to “go conduct his f---ing press conference.”
Confirming some published reports: earlier this season, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen relayed instructions from off site to manager Mickey Callaway, telling him to remove pitcher Jacob deGrom -- whom the Mets feared injured -- from a game. Unclear if this was an isolated incident.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 25, 2019
Whether or not you like Rick and Ricky, to the best of my knowledge they have never tried to recreate the Undertaker and Mick Foley’s Hell in a Cell wrestling match, which is the sort of thing that weighs heavy on team morale. From controversial General Managers (looking at you, Kenny) to managerial spats with journalists (if you thought Ozzie vs. Mariotti was bad, Mickey Callaway and Mets beat writer Tim Healey had to be separated and physically restrained last month), if nothing else, both teams find ways to keep us entertained. Let’s set the stage for what is sure to be a wild ride:
Who can hurt us:
- Jeff McNeil — Second-highest batting average in the league, and doesn’t strike out much. He has 115 hits, 20 walks and 41 RBIs. With an impressive line of .336/.397/.507, McNeil is a dangerous hitter and if he needs a day off, I’d be happy if it was during this series. He exited the game Sunday after being hit by a pitch against Pittsburgh, so we might dodge a bullet in having to face him.
- Pete Alonso — Probable Rookie of the Year who loves hitting home runs. His line of .258/.363/.596 is pretty remarkable for a rookie. Twenty-one of his 97 hits have been doubles, and his 34 home runs put him at 77 RBIs.
- Jacob deGrom — Reigning Cy Young champ has top stats in just about everything except wins; his 6-7 record is puzzling considering his slider is virtually unhittable.
- Right fielder Michael Conforto is no slouch, with 18 doubles, 20 home runs, 54 RBIs, 52 walks and a respectable .832 OPS.
What was the worst bullpen in the league with 21 blown saves before the All-Star break has come back refreshed and improved, allowing only a handful of runs and stranding 88% of inherited runners.
Threat Neutralization Plan: Don’t throw a fastball anywhere near McNeil or Alonso. Make McNeil hit the slider or curve and make Alonso hit the changeup or splitter. Or just walk them. McNeil’s batting average with the bases loaded is .125. Of note, Alonso’s batting average since the All-Star break is .118 Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, that is Pete Alonso, not Yonder.
We are not slated to face the newly acquired Stroman, so barring any changes due to trade deadline moves, the expected pitchers are:
Tuesday, July 30, 7:10 PM CST: Noah Syndergaard vs. Reynaldo López
Syndergaard was “heavily scouted” at Citi Field last week, so he may or may not still be in a Mets uniform tomorrow. Since the All-Star break, his ERA is down to 2.57 and he has yet to give up a home run. Reynaldo comes back to avenge a brutal home loss to the Marlins, giving up two runs after seven flawless innings with 10 Ks and receiving zero run support.
Wednesday July 31, 7:10 PM CST: Jacob deGrom vs. Lucas Giolito
The Cy Young of 2018 vs. the possible 2019 Cy Young — this will be a fun game to watch. Also, it’s trade deadline day. deGrom has 163 strikeouts in 2019 and a 0.47 ERA in three games in the second half of the season, so Lucas has his work cut out for him. Lucas relies heavily on the changeup and four-seam fastball, which either means he’s throwing a no-no or he’s getting lit up like the Millennium Park Christmas tree.
Thursday August 1, 1:10 PM CST: Zack Wheeler vs Dylan Cease
I am attending this game so if we lose, feel free to call me out in the comments. Pete Alonso’s batting average during day games is .193. Zack Wheeler is fresh off the IL. Wheeler has a 2-5 record during day games, with a 5.88 ERA, while Cease has been pitching a lot better than his 1-3 record and 6.98 ERA indicate. There is heavy speculation that Wheeler will be traded before the deadline, but for now, he’s their scheduled starter.
If we can keep the Super Smash Bros. at bay and keep our own bats alive, we might be able to help the Mets live up to their acronym.