A Look at the Development of Jon Niese through PitchFX

By Josh Smolow

Now that Jon Niese has made four major-league starts in his career, it has been possible for us fans who have been unable to see Niese in the minors to see what the #1 pitching prospect (Ed: He’s not my #1!) in the organization can do. Jon Niese made three starts last year. One was excellent (against Atlanta), and two were not as good (Milwaukee and the Cubs). On Friday Niese made his 2009 debut against the Pirates; it was a rousing success. Is this a sign of progress and development in the last year, or just a blip? Using the PitchFX Tool*, we can attempt to find out more about Niese’s pitches to determine whether he has advanced in his development since we saw him last year.

Using PitchFX to analyze Jon Niese’s pitches thrown in 2008, we can see that he clearly threw three distinctly different pitches: a fastball, a changeup, and his devastating curveball. The below graphs show all of Niese’s pitches on two graphs. The first one shows the horizontal and vertical movement of all of his pitches, while the second one plots the horizontal movement of his pitches against the speed of those pitches. The second graph is used in order to better see the difference between Niese’s pitches (especially the changeup which can get lost in the fastball without speed factored in). The table below the graphs shows the average movement in each direction and average speed that Niese had on each pitch last year.

A note on reading the graphs, the graphs are essentially read as if you were the catcher or umpire viewing a pitch being thrown at you. A righty batter would be on the left of the graph and a lefty batter would be on the far right of the graph. Thus a pitch on the right side of the graph will be moving in on lefties and away from righties.

. . .

Pitch Type

Number Thrown

Average

Horizontal Movement

Average

Vertical Movement

Average

Speed (MPH)

Change

23

6.12373913

6.08047826

81.4869565

Curve

66

-3.9303636

-11.075909

73.2378788

Fastball

178

3.51111236

8.54873034

89.1398876

What do we see here? First, Niese’s curveball has tremendous movement, with 11 inches of drop (in addition to the drop caused normally by gravity) on average. It also has little horizontal movement compared to say, a slider, and thus can properly be called a 12 to 6 curve ball. The curveballs are the blue pitches inside the blue circle on the graph above. The curve-ball is Niese’s best pitch, but he only threw it 25% of the time last year.

Second, Niese’s fastball (The dots inside the red circle above, excluding the two red dots inside the green circle) is extremely variable in terms of its movement. It’s possible there are two different types of fastballs within this group (with one being the thicker cluster on the left and one being the less thick cluster on the very upper right of the chart) but it is hard to tell clearly if this is the case. On average, Niese’s fastball moves very little in on lefty batters and is almost straight at times, though its horizontal movement is highly variable (sometimes it moves a good deal in on lefties). In essence, Niese displays the classic four-seam fastball. The fastball doesn’t have great speed either, but Niese threw the pitch last year at least 2/3s of the time.

Third, Niese’s third pitch, the change up, is also highly variable in its movement. The changeups are the pitches inside the green circle (including the two red dots inside that circle). The change ups movement only slightly differs from that of the fastball and looks just like a fastball that moves more in on lefties than the average fastball does. The only difference in this pitch is that it is clearly slower than the fastball. You’d think that this pitch is thus perhaps Niese’s least effective, and it is (He had trouble throwing accurately). Still, Niese does not throw the change up very much, with the pitch having comprised of less than 10% of his pitches last year.

However, in 2009, Niese has had another 6 months in which to develop his stuff. Is there a clear difference? Has he developed further? Well, thanks to his start last Friday, we now have Pitchfx results from this year, and they’re listed below.

Pitch Type

Number Thrown

Average

Horizontal Movement

Average

Vertical Movement

Average

Speed (MPH)

Change

4

10.63825

5.93675

80.95

Curve

16

-3.5934375

-11.127

73.00625

Fastball

65

5.56349231

8.95738462

89.6969231

Fastball2

10

9.849

6.6575

89.07

The answer to the question of whether Niese has developed….is yes. What we now see is four distinct clusters, as opposed to the three clusters seen in last year’s outings. Niese’s curveball unsurprisingly remains essentially the same, and he threw it only 16 times (out of 95 pitches…16% of all pitches were curves). This is not a surprise here, as it was already a major league worthy pitch last year.

However, his fastball has now split into two separate and distinct clusters. The first cluster (represented by Xs) appears to be similar to the fastball from last year. However the pitch now has a little more movement in on lefties. Niese threw this fastball a total of 65 times.

This new second fastball, represented by +s on the graph above, is different. It moves even more horizontally in on lefties and away from righties, and drops more than the first fastball. This It’s worth noting that not only is this fastball’s cluster above distinctly separate from the cluster of the first fastball, but that it moves in on lefties even more than any fastball that Niese threw all of last year! Toby informs me that Niese added a cutter last year, but this pitch moves the opposite direction of a cutter (a cutter would move more in on righties and away from lefties). Instead this pitch is a lot more like a sinker or two seam fastball and Niese appeared to use it this way. Eight of Niese’s 10 “sinkers” were thrown with men on base, seemingly in an attempt to gain a ground ball double play. The pitch was very effective, resulting in 3 outs (two of which were ground outs) and 5 pitches fouled off, with only two pitches missing the strike zone completely.

We can really see the difference in Niese’s fastballs through another graph that appears below. This graph compares the spin of each fastball (on the X axis) to the horizontal movement of those fastballs. On the left is the graph of Niese’s 2008 pitches while Niese’s pitches from his start last Friday are on the right. The value of spin in degrees essentially measures the direction of spin on the pitch thrown. A value of 0/360 degrees corresponds to topspin on a pitch,  while a value of 180 degrees corresponds to backspin.  Values of 90 or 270 degrees indicate total sidespin.  Values in between these numbers represent a mixed spin on the ball.

The graph below uses data derived from data labeled spin angle and spin magnitude by Dan Brooks over at Brooks Baseball.

(Changeups are also included in this graph and they’re the squares in both graphs)

Niese’s fastballs last year had a wide range of spin to match its wide range in horizontal movement. One fastball had a spin direction of as much as 176 degrees.  This pitch was essentially thrown with pure backspin and had little horizontal movement whatsoever. One pitch had a spin direction of as little as 125 degrees. This pitch had good movement in on a left handed batter.  You might notice that as a pitch's spin direction goes closer to 90 degrees, the fastball starts to move in more and more on lefties. Once again it is hard to tell in 2008 if he is throwing two separate fastballs, as it is one big cluster. Still, the less thick part of the cluster is very possibly a two seamer similar to the one seen this year. On average, this “two seamer,” had a spin direction of roughly 135 degrees. Still, the pitch is fairly variable. The thicker cluster seems to be evenly divided between spin directions of 150 and 165 degrees.

This year however, we can see a clear difference. First, once again, there are 2 clear clusters of fastballs (represented by the +s and the Xs). With the exception of one of the “two seam fastballs,” which is probably an outlier, the two-seam cluster is focused around the 120 degree mark. It’s worth noting that these pitches show a greater amount of sidespin than any fastball thrown last year. This is probably why the pitch shows a greater amount of horizontal movement than any pitch last year.  This shows either an improvement in the two-seamer from last year or just that the pitch is completely new (probably the former). The other fastball cluster is also centered on a smaller value (150 degrees) than it was last year. This explains the improvement in Niese’s general four seam fastball's horizontal movement as described above.

This spin graph above shows us further prove that Niese’s two-seamer that appeared vs. Pittsburgh was not a fluke. Niese is throwing pitches with a spin direction on his two-seamer consistently that is different than he had ever achieved last year. Moerover, he did it consistently on 9 of these two seamers.  Similarly he was able to more consistently put a greater amount of sidespin on his four seamer than he did last year.  These results translate to the improved movements on both fastballs as described above. It's also worth noting that the improved control of the movement of Niese's fastballs will probably translate to Niese's accuracy with the pitch improving from last year.

Finally, Niese threw 4 change ups vs. the Pirates. Obviously this is a small sampling, but the pitch seems to have improved. Whereas before the changeup was moving in the same pattern as the 2008 fastball, the four changeups moved just like the new “sinker” being thrown by Jon Niese. Also the spin of the changeup, as seen on the graph above, has improved to be exactly like the two-seam fastball as well. This indicates that Niese probably now has a greater control over the pitch than he did before. This should make the change up more effective in the future, and we should keep an eye on this in the future. It is of course necessary to note that this is an incredibly small sample size; Niese only did throw 4 change ups in his one start this year.

One last thing is of notice before we conclude this examination at Jon Niese, a look at his release point. Jon Niese has two distinctly different release points from which he throws his pitches. This is shown below in a graph of his 2008 pitches.

This graph shows the release points of Jon Niese, and you can see two clusters of pitches. Immediately a potential problem for Niese becomes evident, his upper left release point is the area from which he throws his curveball (the blue dots) and nothing else. Niese’s fastballs and changeups come from the other release point. In essence, Niese is releasing his curveball from a 12 o’clock release point (straight up) while he’s releasing his fastballs and changeups at a 1 o’clock release point (lower and more to the right). This pattern is the same for each of Niese’s starts last year and his start against the Pirates this year.

Does this matter? I don’t know exactly, as the two release points are closer together than some that others pitchers have (see Hernandez, Orlando). If players could notice this difference in release points, or look for the higher release point, they could know whenever a curveball is coming. Naturally this would be disastrous for a pitcher who uses it as effectively as Niese does. This clearly bears further watching to see if hitters are noticing this issue as teams’ scouting reports on Niese get more detailed.

CONCLUSION:

Jon Niese is a young pitcher who still has time to develop. As we’ve seen here, in 6 months he’s improved by adding or refining a second fastball variety that makes him more deadly and has improved his original fastball and his changeup. There is some concern over his release point, but overall, Niese is a pitcher who should hopefully have a shining future on the Mets if he continues to improve at this current pace.

*PitchFX is a system employed by Major League Baseball that tracks each pitch thrown in every Major League Baseball game using a series of cameras and some computer programming installed in every baseball stadium used in the Majors. You may have noticed its usage if you’ve used MLB.com’s Gamecast, which shows you the movement of each pitch and where it lands in its display. The system’s data is accessible to the public and can be used to see what pitches a pitcher is throwing, when he’s throwing them, at what speeds, etc, etc etc.

Tags: Jon Niese, Majors, Pitch FX
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

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Jul 18, 2019; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) pitches against the Houston Astros in the third inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports (Jayne Kamin-Oncea)
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Four of the six pitchers who were interviewed by federal agents were identified. The list includes Harvey, Andrew Heaney, Noe Ramirez, and Trevor Cahill. 

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New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone watches the game from the dugout against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park. (Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports)
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Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Eduardo Perez is a popular broadcaster with a famous baseball father, and he is now interviewing for a managerial opening in New York.

Sound like anyone else you know?

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J.D. Davis

Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |

J.D. Davis emerged as one of the most intriguing Mets this past season, a Brodie Van Wagenen success story who had a knack for big hits, a glittering stat line and a catchy nickname: "Just Dingers."

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Alex Rodriguez at Mets spring training. (Matthew Cerrone/SNY)
Alex Rodriguez at Mets spring training. (Matthew Cerrone/SNY)

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Jul 2, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; General view of sunset behind Citi Field during the fifth inning between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jul 2, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; General view of sunset behind Citi Field during the fifth inning between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

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Sep 24, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the second inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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As the Mets search for Mickey Callaway's replacement, find out who would be your perfect fit as manager.

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Aug 4, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano (24) hits an RBI double against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
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Sep 12, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman (7) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports (Gregory Fisher)
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Brodie Van Wagenen
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

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As one executive from an AL team put it, "Most teams in this situation brings in guys like this that don't have a real chance of getting the job." 

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Next steps for Mets GM? 00:01:06
On the latest Shea Anything podcast, Doug Williams and John Harper discuss what moves may come next for GM Brodie Van Wagenen and the Mets.

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Aug 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) reacts after hitting a two run home run in the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
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New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen during the MLB annual spring training media day at Hilton in West Palm Beach. (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen during the MLB annual spring training media day at Hilton in West Palm Beach. (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets and Brodie Van Wagenen are knee-deep in their search for a new manager after recently firing Mickey Callaway. However, they're not the only team looking for a new leader and coaching staff for next season.

In the last few weeks, seven other teams began the same process, including the Phillies, who fired Gabe Kapler on Thursday.

I recently surveyed my usual group of insiders, which includes a handful of front office executives, talent evaluators, agents and former players, to learn how each opening should be viewed by potential managerial candidates.

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May 2, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; General view of New York Mets helmet in the dugout before a game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
		 (Brett Davis)
May 2, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; General view of New York Mets helmet in the dugout before a game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports (Brett Davis)

As the Mets managerial search rolls on, the team is also undergoing some changes in the front office.

SNY's Andy Martino has confirmed that field coordinator Kevin Morgan has resigned rather than be reassigned. Matt Ehalt of Yahoo! Sports was the first to report. 

Morgan, a highly respected organizational veteran, originally joined the Mets in 1998 as the team's assistant to the director of minor league Operations. From 2001-05, he served as the director of minor league operations. 

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Sep 4, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) and left fielder Jeff McNeil (6) celebrate after the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)
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Joe Girardi (Troy Taormina)
Joe Girardi (Troy Taormina)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

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It's not just Brian Cashman telling SNY's John Harper that he would "highly recommend" Girardi to anyone seeking a manager. It's the many other Yankees officials who, while focusing on their own team's postseason game planning, have taken time to compliment Girardi to reporters and wish him well in the Mets search.

Cashman and others have offered very strong references in private conversations with the Mets, according to people briefed on those conversations.

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Sep 29, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler (19) waits in the dugout for his players after loss to the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)
Sep 29, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler (19) waits in the dugout for his players after loss to the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)

Add one more team to the great MLB manager search this offseason, as the Mets' rival Phillies fired Gabe Kapler after two seasons on the job. 

The Phillies were expected to be playoff contenders this season after adding the likes of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura among others to their roster. However, they fell short of that goal, finishing an even .500 at 81-81 which was good for fourth in the NL East behind the Mets. 

With the firing, eight teams are now looking for a new manager, which means the race is on for the top candidates on the market. It doesn't help that the Phillies would obviously love to beat the Mets to one of those candidates, being in division. 

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May 2, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; General view of New York Mets helmet in the dugout before a game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
		 (Brett Davis)
May 2, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; General view of New York Mets helmet in the dugout before a game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports (Brett Davis)

As reports continue to abound regarding the Mets' managerial search, many of the names reported have been familiar ones, including Joe Girardi and Buck Showalter among others.

And with other names like Dusty Baker floating around as well, it appears that previous MLB managerial experience could go a long way in determining who the next Mets skipper will be. 

But an interesting name popped up on Wednesday, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that Mike Bell is expected to receiver an in-person interview with the team.

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Cashman praises Joe Girardi 00:01:25
SNY's John Harper reports on BNNY that New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman would 'highly recommend' Joe Girardi to Mets for manager opening.

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Brian Cashman may have fired Joe Girardi two years ago, but he still speaks glowingly of the job the former manager did with the Yankees, and doesn't hesitate to recommend that the Mets hire him.

"When you're talking about somebody like Joe, he'd give you instant credibility," Cashman told SNY on Wednesday. "He's buttoned-up, ready to go, and proven successful in the largest market you can find. And he came out on top.

"He was here for 10 years, and some things have an expiration date, but that doesn't diminish the abilities the person possesses or the quality of work he provides. I highly recommend Joe to anybody, even our rivals, unfortunately."

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The Mets have reshaped their roster over the last year and change, saying goodbye to some familiar faces (some beloved, some not) in the process. Every week, we'll take a look at how some of those former Mets are performing with their new teams...


Asdrubal Cabrera, Nationals

Cabrera has played in four of the Nats' five playoff games heading into Wednesday's Game 5, starting two of those games. Overall, he's just 1-for-8 at the plate (.125 average) with two RBI. He did not play in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Dodgers. His biggest moment of this postseason came in Game 2 of the NLDS, when he drove in an insurance run as a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth inning of the Nats' 4-2 win.

Tags: Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis d'Arnaud
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New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning at Citi Field. (Brad Penner)
New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning at Citi Field. (Brad Penner)

Bartolo Colon's life story is coming to a bookstore near you.

The former Cy Young winner and four-time All-Star announced on his Instagram account on Wednesday that he will be releasing a memoir titled, "Big Sexy: The Life and Times of Bartolo Colon," set to hit stores in April 2020. 

Tags: Bartolo Colon
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Buck Showalter
Buck Showalter

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The consensus on Buck Showalter as a potential Mets' managerial candidate comes from interviews with scouts, executives, and media members who all know him well, and it is straightforward: his attention to detail, in-game managing, and knack for having his team prepared is all second to none.

But…

He wants to do it his way, which can mean everything from input into personnel decisions to potential clashes over the level of day-to-day front-office involvement that characterized Brodie Van Wagenen's first year as GM. 

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, John Harper
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Feb 25, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; New York Mets shortstop Andres Gimenez (72) plays the field during a spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Feb 25, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; New York Mets shortstop Andres Gimenez (72) plays the field during a spring training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

The Mets have some good representation in the Appalachian League this fall, and Baseball America is recognizing two of the club's prospects as the top players in the league. 

Francisco Alvarez, a 17-year-old catcher, and the Mets' first-round draft pick this year in Brett Baty were ranked the league's No. 1 and No. 2 prospects respectively. 

Alvarez is the Mets' top catching prospect and the fifth overall prospect in the organization. He also cracked the publication's Top 100 list Back in September. Signing with the Mets for $2.7 million back in 2018, Alvarez hit .312/.407/.510 with seven homers and 26 RBI in 42 games at both levels of rookie ball this season. 

Tags: Andres Gimenez, Scott Thompson
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Jul 20, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) celebrates with shortstop Amed Rosario (1) after hitting a three-run home run against the San Francisco Giants in the sixth inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports (John Hefti)
Jul 20, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) celebrates with shortstop Amed Rosario (1) after hitting a three-run home run against the San Francisco Giants in the sixth inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports (John Hefti)

It didn't end the way we hoped, but the Mets' 2019 was nevertheless a year to remember...

MVP and Rookie of the Year

Pete Alonso

It can be argued that Jacob deGrom is the MVP. However, Alonso's impact was undeniable.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Jacob deGrom, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Todd Frazier, Matthew Cerrone
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Sep 25, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran (15) smiles after the benches clear during the second inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports (Andrew Dieb)
Sep 25, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran (15) smiles after the benches clear during the second inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports (Andrew Dieb)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Carlos Beltran-as-Mets-manager speculation has now grown legs and turned into an actual story.

Mets officials have been doing background work on Carlos Beltran in recent days, trying to determine if he is ready to be a manager, according to major league sources.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Andy Martino
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The Boston Red Sox moved on from their president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, last month. As their search for a replacement continues, one Mets front office member had his name thrown into the discussion.

The Boston Globe reports that Mets vice president Allard Baird will get a "long look" from the Red Sox in regard to the vacant role. Baird is also listed as the Mets' assistant general manager of scouting and player development. 

Baird is a relatively new member of the Mets' front office as he was brought on by general manager Brodie Van Wagenen last offseason.

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New York Mets' Carlos Beltran takes off running after hitting a three run homer during the first inning of their baseball game at Shea Stadium in New York (AP Photo/Ed Betz)
New York Mets' Carlos Beltran takes off running after hitting a three run homer during the first inning of their baseball game at Shea Stadium in New York (AP Photo/Ed Betz)

Carlos Beltran is a candidate to replace Mickey Callaway as the new manager of the Mets, with Beltran saying Sunday that he would "have to listen" if he were to be contacted about the opportunity.

While the 42-year-old could have a future in the Mets' dugout, he also left a huge mark as a player in Queens from 2005 to 2011, when he was arguably the best two-way player the Mets ever had.

Beltran retired after the 2017 season, finishing with a .279/.350/.486 triple slash to go along with 435 homers, 565 doubles, 312 stolen bases, and 1,587 RBI. During his prime, Beltran was also one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball. Add it all up, and he has a great case for election to the Hall of Fame. So which cap would he want on his plaque?

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Danny Abriano
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Jul 2, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; General view of sunset behind Citi Field during the fifth inning between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jul 2, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; General view of sunset behind Citi Field during the fifth inning between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Mets had a roller coaster season -- again. They took us from optimism to the morgue, back to the peak of hope and then to a slow stop before the end of September.

It wasn't all for nothing, though. If Brodie Van Wagenen, his staff and players can learn from the following five lessons from this past season, they stand a better chance of success in 2020.

Don't panic, the Wild Card is wild

The no-name Brewers finished with the 10th-worst ERA and FIP and were the sixth-lowest scoring team in the National League. However, because they caught fire at the right time, they ran past the Mets and four other teams during September to win the second Wild Card spot.

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Oct 16, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) before game three of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Deutsch)
Oct 16, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) before game three of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Deutsch)

Being a manager in New York is a unique animal. It's a totally different gig than can be found in another market and certainly isn't for the faint of heart.

To be successful and survive in this town, which has two baseball teams -- one of which is the most successful in sports history -- it's my contention that the manager must have had previous success in front of New York fans and/or experience as a big-league manager.

It also helps if the person is battle-tested in front of dozens of local reporters, enters with a strong relationship with members of the media or has experience working on-air, such as Aaron Boone.

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Pete Alonso just wrapped up one of the most incredible rookie seasons in the history of baseball.

The Mets' first baseman blasted 53 home runs, the most ever by a rookie, surpassing Aaron Judge's previous record of 52 in 2017.
He finished the year with 53 home runs, 120 RBI, and a .260 averaging, making the NL Rookie of the Year Award a virtual lock.

On Friday, Alonso stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to prove that there's, in fact, nothing that he can't hit.

Tags: Pete Alonso
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Jun 6, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) in the dugout against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Jun 6, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) in the dugout against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

One day after being relieved of his managerial duties by the Mets, Mickey Callaway told Tim Healey of Newsday that he was "disappointed by the decision (of the Mets) to move on" and that the firing stung, but that he's proud of what he accomplished during his time in New York -- with the Mets in a better spot than they were before he was hired.

"I too am in a better spot because of this experience, and am excited about where my next landing spot will be in this baseball world," Callaway said in a statement to Newsday. "These two years have humbled me, educated me, matured me, and motivated me all at the same time."

Read Callaway's full statement here.

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New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway in the dugout before a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway in the dugout before a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Former Mets manager Mickey Callaway could potentially find a soft landing.

Callaway, who was relieved of his duties by the Mets on Thursday, "could be a candidate" to replace outgoing Phillies pitching coach Chris Young, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.

Callaway was the pitching coach for the Indians from 2013 to 2017, overseeing a staff that included Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer

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Ed Kranepool: A life in baseball 00:00:48
Mets legend Ed Kranepool discusses how baseball is like a marathon, and how having a positive attitude is crucial in the game and in life.

Mets legend Ed Kranepool discusses how baseball is like a marathon, and how having a positive attitude is crucial in the game and in life.

"I was taught from baseball to be a positive person, I think it's helped me later on in life," Kranepool explained. "Baseball is a marathon. It's not the guys that win at the end of the first week. You got to go a lot of weeks during the course of the season. Remember you can fail seven out of ten times in sports, especially in baseball, and go to the Hall of Fame. You're a .300 hitter. That's only three out of 10 that you're successful. So you really have to prepare yourself every day to battle it."

He added: "When you have a bad day, leave it at the ballpark. Don't take it home. You strive tomorrow to improve yourself."

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Aug 31, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway walks back to the dugout after making a pitching change in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports (James Lang)
Aug 31, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway walks back to the dugout after making a pitching change in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports (James Lang)

After two years at the helm, Mickey Callaway was relieved of his duties as Mets manager on Thursday. After making the decision, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen talked about the managerial search and much more...


Van Wagenen discussed the decision to move on from Callaway and said the team already has an "expansive" list of potential replacements that they'll begin reaching out to in the coming days >> Read more

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon talked about the Mets' unfulfilling season, saying "It hurts watching those games on TV right now" >> Read more

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Noah Syndergaard, Robinson Cano, Danny Abriano
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Oct 23, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran (15) takes batting practice one day prior to game one of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports (Jayne Kamin-Oncea)
Oct 23, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran (15) takes batting practice one day prior to game one of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports (Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

Carlos Beltran has support throughout Brodie Van Wagenen's front office, and is one of the many names on their current list of potential managers, according to people close to both player and GM.

Beltran, 42, interviewed to manage the Yankees in 2017 just two weeks after winning a World Championship with the Astros and officially retiring as a player. He was later named a special adviser to Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

I loved Beltran as a player. He's largely misunderstood and under-appreciated, which is why he'll always be one of my favorites to ever wear a Mets uniform. However, this is also why I'm both leery and intrigued.

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Sep 8, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Sep 8, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

After the Mets announced on Thursday that the team had relieved manager Mickey Callaway of his duties, GM Brodie Van Wagenen and COO Jeff Wilpon discussed the move and answered questions on a conference call with media.

Van Wagenen gave some insight on the team's trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano from the Seattle Mariners on Dec. 3, 2018.

"From my standpoint on the Diaz and the Cano trade, I would say first off that every move that we made last off-season and hopefully every move we'll make going forward is rooted in wanting to win in this current season, and wanting to continue to win in subsequent seasons," Van Wagenen said.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Noah Syndergaard, Robinson Cano
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Sep 17, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)
Sep 17, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

In the end, Mickey Callaway gave the Mets no choice. The in-game mistakes continued to be too glaring for a team that expects to contend next season, and so GM Brodie Van Wagenen made the proper call by firing his manager with a year remaining on the contract.

Sure, you can make the case that Callaway was sabotaged by the back end of the bullpen, and could well have guided the Mets to the playoffs with even decent seasons from Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia.

But that would have been overlooking Callaway's obvious flaws. In year two on the job, he simply offered no indication that he was ever going to develop the feel that good managers have for situations, for strategy, for everything that goes with making important decisions and explaining them afterward.

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, John Harper
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Jul 23, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) pitches against the San Diego Padres during the ninth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jul 23, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) pitches against the San Diego Padres during the ninth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Noah Syndergaard's name was out there in trade rumors last offseason and again this past season, and Edwin Diaz joined him in the rumor mill during the summer. But don't expect their names to be out there this winter.

Speaking Thursday after discussing the decision to move on from manager Mickey Callaway, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen -- unprompted -- all but guaranteed that Syndergaard and Diaz will be on the Mets when the 2020 season begins. 

"I know it hasn't been asked necessarily, but there's been speculation that we would be trading some of the players off of our roster," Van Wagenen said. "Two in particular that were talked heavily about at the trade deadline I presume we'll be asked about here in the offseason. But before all those questions come I think this group should be aware that Edwin Diaz is gonna be on our team next year. That's our full expectation. And Noah Syndergaard is gonna be on our team next year."

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Noah Syndergaard
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Sep 25, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier (21) and teammates walk to the dugout after defeating the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
		
		 (Noah K. Murray)
Sep 25, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier (21) and teammates walk to the dugout after defeating the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen and COO Jeff Wilpon didn't just discuss why they decided to move on from Mickey Callaway as their manager. They also highlighted what they though about the 2019 Mets season as a whole. 

It obviously wasn't the result Van Wagenen, Wilpon, or anyone inside the organization wanted to see. Their second-half surge was all for naught, falling short of the second Wild Card spot. And though they were 10 games over .500, the Mets still finished third in their division behind the Braves and Nationals -- both postseason teams. 

To fall short yet again of a playoff berth, especially with the expectations the franchise set for themselves this season, had Wilpon describe the season like this: 

Tags: Edwin Diaz, Jeff McNeil, Jeurys Familia, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Scott Thompson
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Van Wagenen, Wilpon on Callaway 00:03:20
New York Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen and COO Jeff Wilpon address the media on their decision to fire manager Mickey Callaway

Shortly after the Mets announced Thursday that they had relieved manager Mickey Callaway of his duties with one year remaining on his contract, GM Brodie Van Wagenen and COO Jeff Wilpon discussed the move and what will come next.

After multiple days of organizational meetings, Van Wagenen and Wilpon traveled to Callaway's home in Florida to have what Van Wagenen termed "open dialogue" and inform him of the decision to move on. Decisions have not yet been made on Callaway's coaching staff.

"We arrived at the decision really after multiple meetings between myself and Jeff, between some of the senior leaders in our baseball operations department -- including Omar (Minaya) and Allard (Baird) -- meetings with Fred (Wilpon) and meetings with Mickey as well," Van Wagenen explained during a conference call with reporters.

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Jun 8, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) and New York Mets bench coach Jim Riggleman (50) and New York Mets third base coach Gary Disarcina (10) in the dugout prior to the game against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports (Gregory Fisher)
Jun 8, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway (36) and New York Mets bench coach Jim Riggleman (50) and New York Mets third base coach Gary Disarcina (10) in the dugout prior to the game against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports (Gregory Fisher)

The Mets relieved manager Mickey Callaway of his duties on Thursday, and the club will also not be retaining bench coach Jim Riggleman, SNY's Andy Martino confirmed.

GM Brodie Van Wagenen said during a conference call earlier Thursday that decisions on the coaching staff would be made on a case-by-case basis.

The 66-year-old Riggleman was brought on last offseason in part to help Callaway with the strategic ins and outs in-game. He replaced Gary Disarcina, who became the Mets' third base coach when Van Wagenen reorganized the team's coaching staff.

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