Hello, and welcome to The Racing Stripe. Our attempt to add one more Mets related blog/newsletter to the already crowded upper deck of Mets content.
Today is Valentine's Day, which means cards, flowers, candy, dinner, maybe a little romance, fake mustaches, sneaking back into the dugout after being ejected... oh wait, sorry. That's Bobby Valentine's Day, which makes us feel romantic for baseball, and the good news is that pitchers & catchers report on Wednesday!
CAUGHT IN A RUNDOWN
All the news from this past week, which you’ve probably already seen by now.
🟠 The Mets signed utility player, Jonathan Villar, to a 1-year deal for $3.55 million. The veteran journeyman split 2020 between Miami & Toronto, and had a down year at the plate. But he was pretty good in 2019, where he played all 162 games for Baltimore, batting .274/.339/.453. They DFA’d relief pitcher, Brad Brach, to make room for Villar, which is unfortunate news because he's a lifelong Mets fan.
🟠 The Mets also acquired 22 year old OF prospect, Khalil Lee, in 3-way trade with KC & Boston, giving up pitching prospect Josh Winckowski, who had just arrived from Toronto in the Matz trade, as well as a player to be named later. Lee slots in as our #7 prospect. Before the 2020 season, the Athletic’s Keith Law said his swing needs some work, but he looks to start the season in AAA Syracuse, and could get a call-up as early as this year.
🟠 Acting GM, Zack Scott spoke to the media, and confirmed that they’re not resting on the laurels of a very active and successful offseason, saying, “We’re not done. We wanna do some other things.” He also gave his support for JD Davis “playing an important role”, but didn’t specify that role would be at 3B. When asked about contract extensions for Lindor and Conforto, he said they’re waiting for Spring Training to get underway before they begin negotiations. Conforto himself has suggested he doesn’t want to negotiate during the season, so hopefully they can lock him up before April 1st.
🟠 The Mets announced that Seth Lugo has a piece of bone spur loose in his elbow tissue. He’ll have surgery on Tuesday 2/16, and will shut it down for six weeks to heal up. We wish Seth a speedy recovery, and hope he can settle back into being one of the most dominant relievers in the league.
🟠 MLB Network’s “Top 100 Right Now” has Brandon Nimmo ranked 89, Dom Smith ranked 67, Pete Alonso ranked 66. They're announcing 40-1 next week, and I'd expect Conforto, Diaz, Lindor, and deGrom to be in there.
🟠 The Mets farm system was ranked 19th in MLB by the Athletic’s Keith Law, which is not bad considering how Brodie Van Wagenen gutted it during the two years he was GM. The majority of our most promising prospects are in the lower levels, so reluctant credit goes to BVW for drafting those guys. But since there was no MiLB in 2020 they missed out on some important development, and it’s difficult to assess their real potential.
🟠 Baseball Prospectus released their standings predictions for 2021, and they have the Mets finishing atop the NL East with 95 wins 👀 I love to see it, but it does feel like wishful thinking, especially since they have the Braves only winning 82 games.
🟠 The Mets released their official 2021 schedule, and they’ll be in Washington on April 1st for Opening Day. First pitch is at 7:09pm, and it’s airing on ESPN (which means no GKR 😢)
🟠 The Mets also released their Spring Training roster, and the list of non-roster invites includes some the above mentioned lower-level prospects, like catcher, Francisco Álvarez, infielders, Brett Baty and Ronny Mauricio, as well as centerfielder, Pete Crow-Armstrong. Also invited were veterans like Jerry Blevins, and Brandon Drury. Read the full list of non-roster invites here.
🟠 The Citi Field vaccination site opened this week, which is encouraging news for those hoping to attend some games this year. Uncle Steve is looking quite svelte, by the way 😙
The @CitiField vaccination site is now open. Eligible New Yorkers can make an appointment at 👉 https://t.co/f51aNnUcD3. Be sure to check back in frequently as additional appointments become available. pic.twitter.com/GLSaZWtIGl— New York Mets (@Mets) February 10, 2021
🟠 And in more good news for getting life back to normal, Governor Cuomo announced that arenas will begin to allow fans soon, albeit at a limited capacity.
In a statement, the Mets called Governor Cuomo's arena/venue announcement "an encouraging first step toward us potentially welcoming fans back to Citi Field."— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 10, 2021
"We look forward to working with government officials to ensure that the return to the ballpark is safe and convenient.”
🟠 Also in pandemic news, as it relates to baseball, MLB and the MLBPA agreed on COVID protocols. Unfortunately they kept all the on-field rules no one wanted, like 7-inning double headers, and extra innings starting with a runner on 2nd. Meanwhile the DH will not be in the NL this year, which is bad news for the Mets lineup, as it means Nimmo will likely be our starting CF, and Dom our LF. Let’s hope the defensive deficiencies won’t be as dire as some predict.
TWEET THE METS
🟠 Tomas Nido shared an old, rare pic of Francisco Lindor not smiling, seemingly from their time together on the Puerto Rico Little League team.
🟠 James McCann dropped some Jedi-like wisdom that’s got us hyped. We already know Steve Cohen is All In.
You’re either ALL IN, or you’re ALL OUT. There’s no in between.— James McCann (@McCannon33) February 9, 2021
🟠 Marcus Stroman was talkin’ grips in a video for Momentum & Pitching Ninja. The physics of pitching, particularly how you grip the baseball, is truly one of the most amazing parts of the game, so it’s very cool for Stro to share this knowledge.
🟠 Trevor May also dove into the pitching grip topic, promising a more detailed YouTube video soon.
Thread/— Trevor “IamTrevorMay” May (@IamTrevorMay) February 11, 2021
For my baseball nerds out there: I used slomo vid for the first time to monitor had position as I prepared for the season this year. I always assumed my fingers were close to directly on top of the ball on release. Not even close. pic.twitter.com/UtNN0mzOK7
🟠 Brandon Nimmo was the first to arrive at Port St Lucie. I think he’s been there by himself all winter, so he must’ve been eager to talk to anyone.
Brandon Nimmo is the first Mets player to arrive at spring training in Port St. Lucie. He conducted an interview with a member of the team's PR staff; within, Nimmo discussed his readiness to start in center field: pic.twitter.com/Z8sJo7PSR6— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 11, 2021
🟠 Pete Alonso predicts a voracious K/9 for Jake this year. He’s probably not far off.
All— Pete Alonso (@Pete_Alonso20) February 12, 2021
New merch for every Mets Mood
🟠 In the spirit of Valentine's Day, we've got some new shirts that capture your relationship status with baseball. Check them out here.
🟠 But if you've got a tangible human significant other in your life, or even if you don't, and you find yourself a newly drafted parent, we've got you covered there too. Get something for the baby here.
🟠 And don’t forget to declare your love for our favorite owner with this classic, now updated with a fresh new look.