As the Mets are winding down the season, it’s time for the former teacher to hand out their report cards. Let’s see how my grades stack up with yours…
The Mets as a team are entitled to a vibrant cheer for the entertaining and fun season they have given us. Individually, some have stepped up while others have fallen back. Grading or rating anything is, of course, a subjective task. But, here goes. See what you think…
Note: This is the third of three installments. Today, we focus on the Mets bullpen and a few odds and ends.
Introduction: David Kim After the first in this series, David commented, “I can’t wait to see the bullpen grades!” David is a member of the New York Mets Forever More Facebook Group. I wrote back to him, “David, neither can I.” But we’ll give it a shot. Note: All stats are sourced through FoxSports.com.
Mets Bullpen – Report Card
Jeurys Familia D-
No one can know what was going through Bordie Van Wan Wagenen’s head when he signed Jeurys Familia to a three-year deal worth $30 million of the Wilpon’s hard-earned money. A total flop, Familia somehow managed to walk one fewer batter than Jacob deGrom did while having only one-fourth of deGrom’s innings pitched (read that again). Familia also allowed almost 40% of his inherited runners to score.
Appearing in 60 games, Familia gets an A for effort and an F for results. The thought of having him around for two more years is unfathomable. If it were any other team besides the Mets, Familia would be shipped off to a team for a bag of peanuts and a $10 Citi Field beer, and the team would eat most of his salary. Short of that happening, I surrender.
Luis Avilan C
Luis Avilan appeared in 41 games for the Mets this year. He’s a pedestrian pitcher, so he gets an average grade. Avilan did shine, however in the area of Inherited Runners Scored (IRS), stopping about eighty-percent of the runners he inherited (78.6%).
Avilan is cheap enough for the Mets to keep, although he is a free agent and will probably command more than the $1.6 million he earned this year. Unless Van Wagenen overstocks the Mets bullpen during the offseason, there is room for Avilan, and Mickey Callaway appears to like him in a limited role.
Edwin Diaz D+
Edwin Diaz is the elephant in the room whenever the topic is the Mets bullpen. The entire Met’s coaching staff worked tirelessly to put the pieces back together following Diaz’s phenomenal year with the Seattle Mariners the year before. To date, all efforts have failed, and Diaz remains a puzzling enigma.
It is worthy to point out, though, that Diaz has 25 saves to his credit, more than any Mets reliever. Entering the first of three arbitration years before reach free agent status in 2023, Diaz is a financial advantage to the Mets. Mets fans scream for Diaz to be run out of town, but it is not likely that will happen. A suggestion is for the Mets to send Diaz to the Arizona Fall League to work the kinks out.
Robert Gsellman Incomplete
Robert Gsellman took a deep dive in his standing with the Mets this year. Not only did he miss a good portion of the season with injuries, when he did pitch he was mostly ineffective. Fully half of all the runners Gsellman inherited scored. No team can live with that.
Like Diaz, Gsellman is in the first of three arbitration years, and will likely come cheap if the Mets decide to keep him. A former starting pitcher, Gsellman may or may not be happy in his current role as a reliever. At best, Gsellman is an extra piece in the Mets bullpen but not anything to write home about.
Justin Wilson A-
Injuries limited Justin Wilson to only 42 appearances with the Mets this season. The Mets wish it could have been more. Wilson has the best ERA of all Mets relievers (2.46), and he converted three-quarters of his save opportunities. Wilson’s 38.5% in Inherited Runners Scored is a bit high, and there is room for improvement there.
But overall, Mickey Callaway exhibited robust faith in Wilson throughout the season, and Wilson returned the gesture. Wilson signed a two-year contract worth $10 million with the Mets that will carry him through the 2020 season. A bright light in an otherwise dismal Mets bullpen, Wilson needs to stay injury-free in 2020 to give the Mets his full value.
Seth Lugo A+
The Mets cannot ask more from Seth Lugo beyond what he gave the team this year. Only one in ten (11.1%) of the runners Lugo inherited scored. Credited with 20 Holds, Lugo pitched to a 2.82 ERA. Self-described a “Quarter-Rican,” the Louisianan is the mainstay feature in the Mets bullpen.
There’s a hitch to that, though. Lugo has publicly indicated he doesn’t want to be the Mets closer “forever.” Given the state of the Mets bullpen, forever as a relative term, might mean more than Lugo desires. Lugo has one of the highest “spin rates” on his curveball, and his fastball is rarely stationary in the strike zone.
Similar to both Diaz and Wilson, the Mets have complete control of Lugo for the next three years. Eligible for arbitration this year, Lugo is likely going to reach deep into the Mets pocketbook. Unless, of course, the team chooses to lock him up in a long-term deal before Lugo reaches free agency in 2023.
Odds And Ends – Role Players Report Card
Tomas Nido – Backup Catcher B
You can’t take away from Tomas Nido that two premier pitchers on the Mets staff have asked for him as their personal catcher. So, he must be doing something right (thus his higher than earned grade). But you also can’t take away the fact the guy can’t hit a lick. And there’s no sign that he’ll ever be better than he was this year (.208 BA, .244 OBP). Nido, like most backup catchers, is expendable if Brodie Van Wagenen finds a better alternative during the offseason.
Waiting in the wings and too soon to be a factor in the Mets plans for 2020 is Francisco Alvarez, the team’s overall Number 3 Prospect. Rated as the thirteenth best prospect in baseball, scouts for MLB.com have this to say about Alvarez:
Joe Panik – Reserve Infielder B+
Joe Panik came to the Mets late in the season in a wavier deal during the stretch when Robinson Cano hadn’t yet reached the miracle cure of his hamstring. Installed as the Mets regular second baseman, Panik immediately settled in with his bat and glove. His role with the Mets for 2020 has yet to be determined. A native of Hopewell Junction, NY, Panik has made no secret of his desire to remain with the team.
Cast now as a veteran, Panik is “up there” in salary for a utility man at $3.85 million, of which the Mets were responsible for $555,000. Given Cano’s age and increasing fragility, the Mets are likely to offer Panik a contract for 2020. If the team chooses not to, Panik is eligible for his final year of arbitration before reaching free agency in 2021. Either way, he would seem to be a must sign player for the Mets.
Jed Lowrie – Third Base Incomplete
Jed Lowrie was widely hailed as a steal when Brodie Van Wagenen signed him to a two-year deal worth $20 million. Coming off a career year with Oakland in 2018 in which he smacked 23 home runs, drove home 99, with a .353 OBP, what could go wrong? Everything, as it turned out with Lowrie sidelined for all but a handful of games as a Met this year.
At 35, it remains to be seen if Lowrie has caught the Mets on the expensive downside of his career – or will he bounce back next year to provide the team with much-needed stability at third base? I wouldn’t take any bets on this one. And for that reason, the Mets will hopefully make a big push (read $$) to sign Anthony Rendon to man the position for the next five to six years.
Postscript – Down On The Farm
With the departure of Anthony Kay in the Marcus Stroman trade, there isn’t much left to pick from as ready-to-play players in the Mets farm system. A check of the Mets Triple-A team in Syracuse reveals a recycled Ruben Tejada, who turned in a decent year batting .326 with .an .875 OPS. Where he fits in with the Mets is anyone’s guess though.
Luis Guillorme, who was given a look-see by the Mets, also faired well against Triple-A pitching, hitting over .300 with a .412 OPB. Translating that to major league pitching, however, is proving to be complicated.
Turning to pitchers, Corey Oswalt shines when you look at his career minor league stats – 51-26, 3.51 ERA. Couple that with his brilliant 10-4, 2.91 season at Syracuse this year, and you would think the Mets maybe have something here. Alas, in limited appearances for the Mets, that has not been the case. Oswalt is likely to be given a good look at Spring Training, but at 26 it appears to be make-or-break time for the tall right-hander.
Need To Play Catch-up?
In case you missed them, here are the two previous installments on the Mets Report Cards for 2019.
The first installment covers Mets Management, Coaches, and Starting Pitchers.
The second features .the Mets Infielders and Outfielders.