MMO Mailbag: Weighing In on Vargas, Frazier, SNY

Photo by Peter Botte.

It should come as no surprise the Mets decision to designate Matt Harvey for assignment had little to no impact on how the team was playing. With Harvey officially gone, fans now have the opportunity to turn their attention to other areas of this team which has caused the team to slip from first to fourth place in the National League East. Some of those issues were highlighted by questions sent to MMO, which are now answered in the latest edition of the MMO mailbag:

Doubl asks . . .

With Seth Lugo carrying a 2.66 ERA in the bullpen, what should the Mets do about Jason Vargas and his spot in the rotation?

John S. replies . . .

Heading into this season, fans were sold on this being a true meritocracy, and the proof positive of that was Zack Wheeler beginning the year in Triple-A while Phillip Evans and Jacob Rhame made the Opening Day roster.  Since that time, the notion this has been a true meritocracy has certainly crumbled. Brandon Nimmo has not just been on the bench, but he has also been sent down to Triple-A once because the Mets needed a fresh bullpen arm.

Really, the idea this is a true meritocracy is a complete sham is how Vargas remains in the starting rotation.

Consider this, as a starter Matt Harvey averaged 5.1 innings while going 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA, 1.429 WHIP, and a 7.3 K/9. Those numbers first got Harvey demoted to the bullpen and then designated for assignment when he refused an assignment to the minors.

Vargas wishes he was pitching as good as Harvey was. After last night’s dreadful start against the Reds, he is now averaging four innings per start while going 0-3 with a 13.86 ERA, 2.676 WHIP, and a 6.6 K/9.

If this were a true meritocracy, the Mets would strip Vargas of his starting spot, and they would replace him with Lugo or Corey Oswalt. Preferably, Oswalt would be the choice to keep Lugo as a weapon in the pen. Ideally, the Mets would do what they did with Antonio Bastardo in 2016 and move him for another team’s unwanted piece.

However, with Vargas being a purported key free agent acquisition, the team keeping him over Harvey, and Vargas making $18 million guaranteed over this year and the next, he’s not going anywhere, at least not anytime soon.

Patrick W asks . . .

Why do the Mets continue playing Reyes? Please tell me they’re not really going to play him at third everyday while Frazier is on the disabled list.

John S replies . . .

With the Mets calling up Luis Guillorme, there is hope he will play everyday, especially as noted in a recent MMN article, he’s in the middle of an impressive nine game hitting streak which was seen him show unprecedented flashes of power.

Of course the problem with Guillorme is he has never played third base in his professional career. Now, he’s been a defensive virtuoso no matter where he has been put, but you would have to believe the Mets would be somewhat hesitant to play him at third with him never previously playing there in his career.

Certainly, the Mets should consider playing Guillorme in the middle infield alongside Amed Rosario. Arguably, that double play combination would be the best defensive one in Mets history. No, that’s not hyperbole. Given their respective skillsets, you would be hard pressed to find a better double play combination in Mets history.

For that to work, the Mets would need Asdrubal Cabrera to play third base in Frazier’s absence. Considering his diminishing range, his -5 DRS at second this year and -6 DRS last year, and his 1 DRS at third last year, you could reasonably argue it would be best for the team to play Guillorme at second and him at third. However, considering his tantrum and trade demand last year, it is possible the team would not be willing to even ask him to do what is best for the team. They may also not ask him to step outside his purported comfort zone because the team may not want to mess with his hot hitting bat.

Ultimately, this means third base is between Reyes, Wilmer Flores, and Guillorme, and last night, we saw Reyes get the start at third over Flores.

Reyes, who entered the game hitting .139/.184/.222, would go 0-for-4 with a strikeout. For reasons no one can be entirely clear, Reyes would stay in the game, while Rosario, the one the much better defender and hitter, was double switched out of the game.

Judging from yesterday, it’s entirely possible Reyes receives the bulk of the playing time, at least against right-handed pitching.  Of course, that decision is just plain odd with Reyes hitting .133/.188/.233 off of right-handed pitching this year and .239/.306/.386 the last.  Conversely, Flores is hitting .267/.371/.533 off right-handed pitching this year and .262/.3o9/.459 the last.

Simply put, there is no scenario in which Reyes should be playing over Flores, or really anybody. He’s been bad, so bad, the team is well within their rights to designate him for assignment.  However, for some reason, the team is willing to stick it out with him where they were no longer willing with Harvey.

@meekphil_ says . . .

Irrational tweets about a team that has lost seven of eight after a 70 Win season. So tone deaf.

John S. replied . . .

This has become an ugly and not often enough talked about side of the Mets organization. When times get tough, and the flawed Mets team is reeling, they turn the tables and decide to make a laughingstock of fans who stick with this team through good times and bad.

The classic example was Sandy Alderson dubbing Mets fans Panic Citi because the fans had the audacity to demand the Mets make a trade or two to save the season. Remember, at that time, the Mets saw their 4.5 game lead at the end of April become a 3.5 game deficit.

At the time, David Wright was on the disabled list, and no one had any idea as to when or if he could return.  Michael Cuddyer, who was hobbled with a knee injury, was basically being forced to play to keep credible Major League hitters in the lineup. Kevin Plawecki, and the revolving door of backup catchers in Travis d’Arnauds absence couldn’t hit, nor could Juan Lagares.  The team was outright refusing to call-up Michael Conforto.  In addition to that, the bullpen was a mess.

With the cries coming from any corner for the Mets not to waste what started as a magical season, Alderson instead called fans Panic Citi, and the moniker has stuck ever since partially because there was an unprecedented confluence of events leading to the Mets first division title since 2006.

Now, with the Mets once again wasting a terrific start, we see things like Irrational Tweet Theatre.

Instead of addressing an abysmal catching situation, most of the teams free agent signings being an abject failure, the starting rotation having gaping holes, and the team seeing a Natinoal League best 12-2 start turn into a troubling 18-16 record, the focus is not on all the holes in this roster, the players who are under-performing, or even some of the more questionable decisions we have seen from Mickey Callaway lately.

No, the focus is on what the Mets organization deems to be irrational fan behavior.  Rather, that discuss what can be done to turn this ship around, time is wasted defending Nelson Figueroa, who finds a way to defend every terrible Mets player not named Matt Harvey.

Mets fans are good and loyal fans.  We stuck by this team through a lot over the years, including but not limited to Bernie Madoff and the organization unwilling to spend what was necessary to take that core from 2015 and make sure they went back to the World Series.

This is a Mets team now in fourth place, and they just got manhandled by the worst team in the National League.  The sheer audacity of these people.

We deserve much better than the name calling, arrogance, and disdain this ownership, front office, and television station shows this fan base.

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Hopefully, you enjoyed this mailbag as much as I enjoyed answering your questions. Keep the questions and comments coming and make sure to send them to AskMMO@metsmerizedonline.com

About John Sheridan 646 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.