MMO Mailbag: How Do Strong Starts From Gonzalez and Lugo Change Things?

With about a week into the regular season, the Mets are looking good at 4-1, and the team has had a number of pleasant surprises.  In this version of the mailbag, we delve into some of those surprises and see how the Mets should handle these players going forward:

Doubl asks . . .

Is Mets reliever/starter Seth Lugo actually Andrew Miller from the right side?

John says . . .

Emphatically and enthusiastically, without a doubt and without hyperbole, I say, “YES!”

To take a step back for a minute, the one thing the Mets were absolutely right about was how much enthusiasm Mickey Callaway could generate with the fan base.  He has done that because he has made smart and informed decisions which have put the team in a position to win.  Part of that is how he and Dave Eiland come with a pedigree for handling pitchers.

We have seen Eiland convert Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar from middling to back-end starters to dominant relievers.

In Cleveland, we saw Callaway with Terry Francona take Miller and transform him from dominant one inning reliever to perhaps the biggest bullpen weapon we have seen post-Mariano Rivera.

There’s another note here.  Lugo has already shown he can be great in the pen.  To this day, my lasting image of Lugo was how completely and utterly foolish he made Anthony Rizzo look.  Lugo’s curveball is so great he got Rizzo to strike out swinging on a pitch that moved so much it hit Rizzo’s foot.

So yes, as Josh Finkelstein wrote earlier on MMO, and I wrote on Mets Daddy, Lugo looks dominant, and he may be a key piece of the bullpen in 2018.  And to once again emphatically answer your question, yes, he could very well be the Mets version of Andrew Miller.

Michael M. asks . . .

Despite a strong start from Adrian Gonzalez, are the Mets still better with Jay Bruce at first and Brandon Nimmo in the OF?

John replies . . .

To put my answer into context, in an earlier MMO Mailbag, I was emphatic that the Mets should release Adrian Gonzalez and sign an Adam Lind type player because the Mets needed more versatility on their bench, and yes, I did believe Gonzalez was done.

Well, in the first week of the season, Gonzalez has gone 4-13 with a double, RBI, and four walks with one strikeout.  We can argue if he looks good or if this will last, but he has played well enough to merit his playing time.  It would be a very bad look in the clubhouse to bench a five-time All-Star and 15-year veteran for an inexperienced player.

There’s another factor at play here.  Even though his managerial career is all of four games, I trust Callaway to make the right decisions.

We have already seen him bench Brandon Nimmo off a great Opening Day because Jacob deGrom has a high fly ball rate, and he wanted Juan Lagares in center for defense.  It also didn’t hurt that Michael Wacha had reverse splits meaning this was exactly the type of right-handed pitcher you would actually want Lagares to face.  The end result was Lagares going 2-4 with a run in a Mets 6-2 win.

When Michael Conforto comes off the disabled list, Callaway can be trusted to parse out playing time among his players that will both keep them happy and put the Mets in position to win games.  In fact, Callaway could look at Jay Bruce‘s tough start to the season and see Conforto’s return as a way to get Bruce some games off and get himself straightened out.

With all those caveats, remember that historically Gonzalez is a fast starter and his production usually falls off from there.  With his back issues, it is very likely history repeats itself.  With Gonzalez likely due for regression, the optimal defensive outfield alignment is with a Nimmo/Lagares platoon in center and Conforto in right, and the lineup works better with Nimmo in the leadoff spot, the Mets are better off in the long run with Bruce at first base.

However, for right now, the team is well advised to ride out Gonzalez for as long as they can.

Daria W asks . . .

What are your thoughts about the Mets televising today’s game on Facebook?

John replies . . .

I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.  It really is a horrible decision and money grab from Major League Baseball.

No, this is not a position on anything politically or about the business model for Facebook that many have recently criticized.  There is a time and place for that discussion, but it is not here.

The reason I detest this decision so much is it makes the game inaccessible for many Mets and Phillies fans.  There are many older fans who do not know how to set up a Facebook account, and/or are pestering their children and grandchildren to teach them how to set one up.  Moreover, Major League Baseball is forcing people to set up a Facebook account despite people making personal decisions to not have a Facebook page.

So no, I do not like this decision, and I think it is a harbinger of things to come.  On the bright side, it will force many a Mets fan to sit down and appreciate what an amazing job Howie Rose and Josh Lewin do on the radio.  I know that’s how I’m going to take in today’s game.

About John Sheridan 711 Articles
John was raised to be a Mets fan by birth, and now he is raising a Mets fan of his own. He also uses Sabermetrics to either confirm the proverbial eye test or to see if we're seeing things with Mets colored glasses. He looks forward to bringing this perspective to MMO. His work, including the tales of raising his son a Mets fan, can also be seen at MetsDaddy.com.