The New York Mets have long been a laughing stock in Major League Baseball. The stories that come from this franchise are so laughable, they are truly not believable. Well, the 2020 off-season was the absolute epitome of what this franchise has been for the last 30 years.
Two New Mets Managers
After Mickey Callaway failed to impress the Mets brass, he was let go and a search for a new manager began. It did not last long though, as the Mets hired Carlos Beltran on November 1st to be their new skipper.
This seemed like the perfect choice. Beltran was one of the most respected guys in the entire league and he has a good history with the Mets. This was a no-brainer.
Everything changed after a Mike Fiers interview with the Athletic. You all know what I am talking about.
After Major League Baseball released their report in January on that incident, Carlos Beltran was mentioned specifically. After that, the Mets felt like they had no choice but to let him go.
We all know that is nonsense and it was a coward move, but it was their move nonetheless. Now with less than a month until pitchers and catcher report to camp, the Mets began a new managerial search.
After a week of deliberation, the Mets landed on Luis Rojas. Rojas had been with the organization since 2006 coaching their Dominican Summer League team. He then worked his way up to Savannah, St. Lucie, and Binghamton. Rojas has worked his way through the entire organization and he is one of the most respected guys in the organization.
Taking over with less than a month until Spring Training starts would be a challenge. It was a challenge though, that the Mets thought Rojas would be up for.
Mets Let Wheeler Walk
Zack Wheeler has been a hot topic in the Mets organization for almost a decade. In 2011 he came to New York from San Francisco in return for Carlos Beltran. That is where the roller coaster began for Wheeler.
By the 2013 season, Wheeler was in AAA and ranked as a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. He ended up making his debut for the Mets that season and pitched pretty well over a season and a half before it was announced he tore his ulnar collateral ligament in March of 2015.
Wheeler’s Injury Woes
Over the next three years, injuries ruled Wheeler’s career. After the torn UCL that kept him out for a season and a half, he suffered a mild flexor strain in his first rehab start in 2016. That flexor strain ended his chances at a comeback in 2016.
Wheeler came back for about half of the 2017 season before falling victim to bicep tendinitis, followed by a stress reaction which ultimately ended his 2017 season. To recap, after throwing 285.1 innings over the 2014-2015 seasons, Wheeler would only complete 86.1 innings over the next 3 years due to injury.
Finally, in 2018, Wheeler was completely healthy and ready to show the Mets what he was capable of. Wheeler got off to a slow start but he really picked it up after the All-Star break. In the second half of the 2018 season, he went 9-1 with a 1.68 ERA, a WHIP of 0.81, and 4.87 strikeouts to walk ratio. In those 11 starts, Wheeler earned every dime he would eventually be paid.
Knowing the demand for Wheeler, there had been some chatter that the Mets would look to deal him during the 2019 season. Well the trade deadline came and went and the Mets traded for Marcus Stroman, but they also held on to Zack Wheeler. At this point, it was a foregone conclusion that Wheeler would leave in the off-season.
Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen clearly did not think Wheeler was worth what he received from the Phillies. The Mets did not even come close to matching the Phillies’ offer to Wheeler and just like that, he was gone. He wound up getting a five-year 118-million dollar deal and the Mets were not going to match that.
The Mets Savior?
After the news of the Wheeler deal, the blame was equally put on Van Wagenen for not thinking Wheeler was worth it, and on the Wilpons for never wanting to spend top dollar on free agents. The next news that broke for the Mets almost seemed like it was sent by a guardian angel. On December 4th, it was announced that billionaire, Steve Cohen, was purchasing 80% of the franchise. This would ultimately end the Wilpons’ reign over the franchise. The sale would be for $2.6 billion and would take place over a span of five years.
It had finally happened. Good news for Mets fans. The Wilpons were on their way out!
Like everything with this team is, it was too good to be true.
By February 6th, the deal was completely dead. Steve Cohen walked away from the table and the Wilpons would still be the majority owners of the Mets. There have been conflicting reports on who was at fault for the deal falling through, but if you are a baseball fan, and you believe that anybody but the Wilpons are to blame, then you have clearly not been paying attention.
It has been announced that the Wilpons are still trying to sell the team, but there is absolutely no reason for Mets fans to be optimistic about this ending well.
Actual Baseball Moves
Lost in an off-season full of drama, were the moves that the Mets actually made to improve in the 2020 season. There was one move that stood out above the rest.
After sporting one of the worst bullpens in baseball in 2019, the Mets signed Dellin Betances to a one-year deal worth 10.5 million dollars.
Many fans were skeptical of a guy who only pitched two-thirds of an inning last season, but at his peak, Betances is one of the best relievers in all of baseball.
Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia cannot possibly be as bad as they were last season. Adding Betances to a bullpen that includes two guys of that caliber seems like a great move. FanGraphs even has the Mets ranked as the third-best bullpen heading into 2020.
In typical Mets fashion, the off-season was about way more than just the players who would take the field in February. However, the Mets avoided arbitration with all of their eligible guys and they added some pieces who may come up big this season.
Of course, I have to have two grades because of all of the drama, but that is the life of being a Mets fan.
Entire Off-Season – D
Player Transactions – C+
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