- Elsewhere, Mets infielder Wilmer Flores has long seemed like an interesting target for a club in need of a little defensive versatility and an option against left-handed pitching (though he has, atypically, produced reverse splits this year). He’s earning a reasonable $3.4MM this year and comes with another arb year as well. Flores has been a steadily above-average producer at the plate for the last several years and has taken his plate discipline to another level this season (7.2% walk rate vs. 9.4% strikeout rate). While he has never been loved for his baserunning or glovework, he’s capable of playing anywhere on the infield (at short only in a pinch).
- The Mets announced this afternoon that they’ve placed outfielder Brandon Nimmo on the 10-day disabled list due to a bruised left index finger. With Nimmo out for at least the next week-plus, the Mets will keep Dominic Smith on the 25-man roster for the time being. Smith had been with the club on Sunday as the 26th man in New York’s doubleheader, and while he’d been slated to return to Triple-A Las Vegas, he’ll now remain in the bigs. It seems likely that he’ll stay up long enough for rosters to expand on Sept. 1.
- The upcoming Mets/Giants series will provide fans with a contrast between a club that has excelled in terms of building minor league depth (the Giants) and one that has failed at doing so in recent seasons (the Mets), writes Tim Britton of The Athletic (subscription required). Britton notes that in Ryan Vogelsong, Santiago Casilla, Andres Torres and several others, San Francisco has consistently found value in minor league free agency. This season alone, he observes, the Giants have three minor league signees — Derek Holland, Dereck Rodriguez, Alen Hanson — who’ve provided the team with more than a win above replacement (per Fangraphs); conversely, the Mets have had only two players over the past four seasons combined that have reached even half a win by that same measure: Rene Rivera and Jose Reyes. Britton explores the Giants’ method of aggressively approaching minor league free agency, headed by assistant GM Jeremy Shelley, in an interesting look at the stark difference between the two clubs.
While Mets owner Fred Wilpon would reportedly prefer to hire a general manager from a more traditional scouting background, Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman hears that team COO Jeff Wilpon could prefer a GM in the younger, analytics-based mold. Essentially, the Mets’ search is still in its very early stages, so it isn’t clear what type of executive the club will ultimately pursue. For instance, Heyman reports that the Mets have interest in Astros assistant GM Mike Elias and former Brewers and Rangers general manager Doug Melvin, who each respectively represent the new-school and old-school approaches. It’s also possible the team could end up hiring from within after all, giving the job to longtime assistant GM John Ricco or special assistant (and former general manager) Omar Minaya.
- The Mets’ extension with Sandy Alderson is up after this season, as Heyman corrected a report of his from June stating that Alderson’s deal ran through the 2019 campaign. It was widely believed that Alderson’s deal was a two-year pact, though it is perhaps notable in hindsight that the contract’s length wasn’t mentioned when the club announced the deal last December. Alderson is currently on a leave of absence to deal with a recurrence of cancer, and it is expected that the Mets will indeed hire a new GM once the season is over.
Somewhat overlooked in last night’s rain-shortened 7-5 loss to the Yankees was the fact that Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman experienced a resurfacing of his blister issues. Though Stroman himself didn’t speak to reporters after the game, manager John Gibbons told reporters that Stroman’s blister tore in the seventh inning of a recent dominant start against the Red Sox (h/t Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca). Gibbons also admitted that the club is considering a DL stint in order to get Stroman right again after he took 88 pitches to get through four innings last night (while giving up five earned runs).
More notes on a few pitchers around the league…
- Packed deep in a piece by Laura Albanese of Newsday are a few notable quotes by Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard that shed some (admittedly vague) light on his struggles and seeming fall from “ace” status. Not only is Thor upset about his inability to hold baserunners (the Phillies swiped five bags off him and batterymate Kevin Plawecki last night), but he also hinted at some wider mechanical issues he’s trying to work through. “It’s something I battle every day when I go out there,” said Syndergaard. “I’m just trying to correct a lot of things that I’ve been doing wrong for a long time.”
- Elsewhere in the National League, Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray still hasn’t been able to get back on track, as Nick Piecoro details in a piece for the Arizona Republic. After a breakout 2017 campaign, Ray’s been unable to deliver any semblance of a repeat performance this season after starting the year with diminished velocity and succumbing to an oblique injury. After walking five batters last night, Ray had the following to say about his command issues. “I just need to get back to what I do best and that’s pound the zone. I’ve got too good of stuff to be pitching around the zone. I’ve just got to attack guys and then my off-speed stuff gets better.” Interestingly, Ray felt confident while warming up yesterday and felt in complete command of his pitches. He wonders whether a “lack of focus” could be to blame.
- Though the early returns of the Alex Cobb signing didn’t look good for the Orioles, the return to effectiveness of his change-up seems to have vaulted the right-hander back to his previous form, as Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun details in this piece. He notes that Cobb’s given up just nine hits on 184 change-ups since the All-Star break. His confidence in the pitch has led to him almost doubling its usage lately, and the results have spoken for themselves. Cobb’s strung together four consecutive quality starts of late, posting a 2.08 ERA with a 54.9% ground ball rate during that span.
The Mets announced Friday that they’ve selected the contract of left-hander Daniel Zamora from Double-A Binghamton and placed right-hander Bobby Wahl on the 10-day disabled list due to a strained right hamstring.
Zamora, 25, came to the Mets in the offseason swap that sent fellow left-hander Josh Smoker to the Pirates. Thus far, he’s enjoyed a strong season in Binghamton — albeit against younger competition. Through 51 2/3 innings of work, Zamora has notched a 3.48 ERA with impressive marks of 12.0 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 0.52 HR/9 to go along with a 45.2 percent ground-ball rate. He’s allowed a .244/.320/.384 slash to left-handed opponents but held right-handers to a terrible .157/.211/.255 batting line.
The emergence of Brandon Nimmo has left Jay Bruce as something of an odd man out with the Mets, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman notes that the Mets’ outfield in 2019 and beyond is likely to include Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, making it more difficult for Bruce to secure regular at-bats (barring a move to first base, which would come at the expense of the younger Dominic Smith). According to Sherman, Bruce can block trades to the Orioles, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rays and Athletics, but he can be shipped anywhere else without his consent. Sherman runs through some speculative possibilities in which Bruce, who is owed $28MM from 2019-20, could be swapped out for a player earning at a comparable rate. Of course, it’s also worth noting that Nimmo’s bat has declined in each month of the season since a torrid start, while Cespedes and (to a lesser extent) Conforto come with injury question marks.
- The Mets are considering Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava and Rays special assistant Bobby Heck as candidates to be their next general manager, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Neither man has been a GM before, though both LaCava and Heck have a wealth of front office experience, particularly in the areas of scouting and player development. LaCava has been with the Blue Jays since 2002, when J.P. Ricciardi (now a Mets special advisor) was Toronto’s GM. Heck has been with the Rays since 2012, following lengthy stints with the Astros and Brewers that saw him play a notable role as both those clubs amassed a strong collection of young talent.
- Mets third baseman David Wright will begin a rehab assignment Sunday, and there’s optimism the long-injured captain will actually return to the major leagues. Manager Mickey Callaway told Tim Healey of Newsday and other reporters Saturday that, in his opinion, “there’s a very good chance” Wright will suit up again for the Mets. Upper body injuries have kept the 35-year-old Wright off a major league diamond since May 2016. He’s signed through 2020 on an eight-year, $138MM contract.
In a rare piece of encouraging news for the woebegone Mets, the team announced that injured third baseman David Wright will begin a rehab assignment on Sunday, when he’ll play five innings for the club’s Class-A affiliate in St. Lucie. It’s not clear whether the 35-year-old Wright has a real chance to return this season, but if he does come back, it would be one of the greatest triumphs of the 2018 campaign. After all, a laundry list of upper body injuries limited Wright to just 75 appearances from 2015-16 and have completely kept him out of MLB action over the past couple years. The seven-time All-Star hasn’t appeared in a major league game since May 27, 2016, or a minor league contest since Aug. 26, 2017.