Michael Conforto donned a Mets home uniform for possibly the final time last night. Besides the tears shed, it’s probably better if he moves on.
Fans of Michael Conforto will not like this, but it’s better for him and the Mets if he moves on to another team, and here’s why.
We’ll start with the almighty numbers, but as you’ll see, they are only a tiny portion of the real story.
According to Baseball-Reference, Michael Conforto’s 162-game average over seven seasons with the Mets has him with a .254 B.A., 28 Home Runs, 85 R.B.I., and 85 Runs Scored.
Those are good numbers, but they are not great, nor do they warrant the Mets forking over $20 million a year for Conforto’s services over the next four or five seasons.
An All-Star only once, Michael Conforto has yet to crack the 100 RBI mark, something the Mets withering offense has needed from him. Additionally, it’s going out on a limb to suggest that his pedestrian season this year is a mere aberration, and better things are coming.
Not All Divorces Stem From Acrimony
It is erroneous to suggest that Michael Conforto has worn out his welcome with the Mets, and that is born out by last night’s crowd at Citi Field, many of whom bought tickets to a meaningless game on a brisk fall night with the sole intent of honoring Conforto.
But not all divorces stem from animosity, and in still other cases, both parties benefit from the separation, going on to have even better and more productive lives.
The thing that haunts me is this. Michael Conforto’s seven years with the Mets make him the longest-tenured position player on the team.
For obvious reasons, change is in the air at the top levels of the organization. There is every inclination the team needs an out with the old and in with the new regeneration of team personnel, including all of the coaches.
Michael Conforto has little to do with the changes, but he is every bit a part of them.
Michael Conforto: A Good But Not Great Player
Despite his well-earned image as the All American Boy in the same company as David Wright, Michael Conforto does not have the “right stuff” to be the Number Three or Four batter in the Mets lineup.
He’s not a choker, and he’s not a wimp, so stop that. But ask yourself, how many times can you remember Michael Conforto delivering in clutch situations.
Alas, the numbers paint a clearer picture than just saying it.
Again, Michael Conforto’s numbers are not poor. Still, they surely are not anything to warrant an exorbitant long-term contract from the Mets, and certainly not worthy of a qualifying offer from the team that is expected to be around $20 million for 2022.
Conforto’s departure will not resemble that of Tom Seaver, who was shockingly traded after assembling a Hall Of Fame career with the Mets. This plateau is already beyond Conforto’s reach.
To put it another way, Michael Conforto will excel in a no-pressure environment. Put him in Kansas City, Cleveland, or Arizona, and he will flourish (Note: Conforto’s winter home is in Phoenix).
For The Mets, The Grass Is Greener
Moreover, take a glance at the list of 2022 Free Agent Outfielders, and ask yourself this: Who would rather have in right field for the Mets next year and beyond – Nick Castellanos (.310, 37 H.R., 97 R.B.I., 3.1 W.A.R., and a .937 O.P.S.), Kyle Schwarber (.265, 32 H.R., 71 R.B.I., 1.85 W.A.R., and .825 O.P.S.) – or Michael Conforto? (All 2021 Stats from Spotrac)
Suppose it truly is all about winning for the Mets organization. In that case, Conforto’s tenure with the Mets has to be squared against only two playoff appearances, two 3rd place finishes, and three 4th place finishes in the N.L. East (including one this year).
Now, no man is an island in baseball, and it would be ludicrous to put the Met’s plight at the feet of Michael Conforto, but having said that, is he the kind of player who has demonstrated her can put the Mets over the top – while earning top major league dollars?
Michael, It’s Not All Your Fault – But…
In sum, then, it’s not a matter of Michael Conforto’s excellent character – it’s about individual production and winning.
The Mets are on the clock, and it was set by none other than their owner, Steve Cohen. Entering the second year of Cohen’s self-stated plan to bring a Championship to New York and Mets fans, there is no room for error.
Because without argument, the Mets can’t stand for Michael Conforto to replicate his 2021 season because even if he betters his career (average) marks, they still fall short of what the team needs from his position in their lineup.
Following the game last night, Conforto’s emotions swelled, telling reporters, “Maybe it’s love. And the feeling is mutual. I’ve loved every interaction I’ve had with the fans. Good or bad, It’s passion, and I’ve got a passion for the game, so I can understand that, so all I can say is thank you to the people who were there tonight, to the people who have supported me the whole time I’ve been here, I’m just thankful.”
For Michael Conforto, though, it’s probably a good time to spread your wings and learn to fly, leaving those good memories behind, and before the prospect of yet another failing Mets season hits home next year.
Going Out In Style If That’s The Way It’s To Be
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Thy Thy Yay!
Paxton Schafer Good player, not a great player. He will get paid more somewhere else and that is a good thing for both sides. We need a new face and preferably younger and cheaper.
Stephen Steele Unless acquiring Castellanos is a certainty, I’m inclined to bring Conforto back. This was a rough year for sure. But his Spring Training was compromised by a positive Covid diagnosis and his return was then slowed by a hamstring injury. I’m willing to give him a MacGuffin for this year. He’s still in his prime. He plays adequate to above-average defense and rarely makes a mistake. The larger question is who do you replace him with? I don’t see anyone better, other than Castellanos. There are no bargains, that’s for sure. Conforto’s salary is irrelevant. Whatever he gets will be a bargain in three years (see: Wheeler, Zack).
Ryan Mumford I wouldn’t mind re-signing him if it’s not absurd. I’d like to see them give him a QO but with insane performance-based incentives so if he’s really worth it, he’ll earn it
Adam Wiener I shed more tears when he played.
Paul Cook He’ll shine elsewhere guaranteed
Kenny Clarke Qualifying offer should be extended to Conforto. If you feel he’s not the guy then you hope he doesn’t take it. And with Boras, he probably won’t take it. At least then we get a draft pick. Not a total loss. I wish Michael well. If he does accept it, he has something to prove once again. LGM
Frankie Olmeda The Mets have to think a lot about Conforto, have to remember when we let go both Turner and Murphy and we all know what happened. They both blossomed into great players and kicked our butts every time they played against us. And we don’t want Conforto to get away that easy and do the same. So if I were the Mets I would think very hard about it.
Kim Kasegian He’ll win the triple crown for the next three seasons…probably for LA…or worse yet 94 miles South of Citi…
Sepia Prince Great and accurate piece. Conforto’s swing is picturesque but those clutch ABs ain’t gonna cut it.
Julia N Ralph Cimmino Resign Conforto, he will come back and haunt us. I am a big fan of Michael, I want him to stay. RC
Steve Gietschier The last time the Mets grabbed a right fielder from the Reds, it was Jay Bruce. He was leading the league in RBIs at the time but finished the season in, I think, 37th place. This fact has nothing to do with Conforto, but it does hint that the numbers for Castellanos and Schwarber might not be as trustworthy as you assume. Besides, do you really want to see Schwarber in right field? I would qualify Conforto, and if he opts to go elsewhere for a multi-year deal, so be it.