These four Mets don’t get enough credit for showing up


I want to praise showing up for work.

That should be par in the majors. Not something worthy of acknowledgement. But in an age of load management and more liberal use of the injured list, I find those who punch the clock daily admirable.

I have long felt that modern metrics do not penalize players enough for missing games nor add enough points for the player who keeps an inferior backup out of games.

Take the Mets, for example. Of all the things Buck Showalter has had to think about this season, one thing he hasn’t been forced to contemplate is the identity of his backup shortstop. Only Anthony Volpe has played more innings at short this year than Francisco Lindor.

And that takes us to Lindor and Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo. In a lost Mets season, that quartet did not let the mounting defeats and negativity provide a reason to bail out. And keep in mind that the normal wear and tear has been compounded by that group being hit by pitch a combined 58 times, including 18 apiece for Alonso and McNeil. (By the way, there are 12 whole teams that have been hit fewer than 58 times.)

Managers have to make so many decisions in a day, and having to not think about four lineup spots for each game is a blessing.

Francisco Lindor has been a part of Buck Showalter’s lineup in all but two games this season.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“When you talk about culture, that is culture,” Showalter said. “Think about Atlanta. You watch their guys play every game. That [permeates] a whole organization. It becomes what is expected of you. If your best players are getting out on the field, others follow.”

The Braves have the leader in innings played at first base (Matt Olson) and right field (Ronald Acuña Jr.), and rank second at third base (Austin Riley), fourth at second (Ozzie Albies) and seventh in center (Michael Harris).

I will not name the executive who is still working prominently in the majors. But when the Yankees signed Johnny Damon after the 2006 season I was soliciting outside opinions of the maneuver. This executive downplayed it and said Damon builds his statline through accumulation by playing all the time — the suggestion being that if he played less, his teams might get more overall. Damon had averaged a tad over 150 games for the 10 seasons before signing with the Yankees.

Only with time did it hit me how stupid this theory was. Damon’s toughness/durability was not a defect, it was an asset. He was a comfort to a manager — always available. He was a beacon to a team to find a way to get into the lineup every day — no excuses. A tired and/or banged-up Damon was still probably better than whoever the backup was.

Here is what has “Got my attention” this week: Each member of the Mets’ durable quartet has played in at least 140 games this season with the strong likelihood each will reach 150-plus. The last time the Mets had four players reach 150-plus games was 2008 with Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes and David Wright.

Brandon Nimmo #9 of the New York Mets celebrates with Jeff McNeil #1 of the New York Mets and Pete Alonso #20 of the New York Mets after the final out of the 9th inning. The New York Mets defeat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-2.
Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo are part of one of the few MLB quartets to each appear in at least 140 games.

In 2023, the only other teams that had four players with at least 140 games played this season through the weekend were:

• The Phillies with Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber, Bryson Stott and Trea Turner.

• The Padres with Xander Bogaerts, Trent Grisham, Ha-Seong Kim and Juan Soto.

• The Mariners with Ty France, Teoscar Hernandez, Julio Rodriguez and Eugenio Suarez.

• Six teams had no players who had reached 140 games played.

Roster stuff maybe only I notice

The Braves’ durability perhaps helped them have one of the best revivals of the year.

A month into the season, I was working on a piece about which team would let a player go with a good amount of money still left on his contract. And I settled on the two best candidates being the Yankees with Aaron Hicks and the Braves with Marcell Ozuna.

Both had played terribly for the past few seasons and the first month this year. In Ozuna’s case, there also were off-the-field issues. Ozuna had begun this season with two years at $39 million owed him. Hicks had three years at $30.5 million due him.

Ozuna was hitting .085 through April with two homers. But when asked about releasing him, Braves officials — among other items — noted that their manager, Brian Snitker, mainly played the same guys every day. Thus, it was not a burden to carry Ozuna on the roster even as his playing time was shrinking.

Atlanta Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna drives in a run with a double in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023, in Atlanta
After a forgettable April, Marcell Ozuna has been one of baseball’s most prolific home run hitters in 2023.

But beginning in May, Ozuna had a switch turned on. From May 1 through the weekend, he had 33 homers, trailing only Olson (44), Schwarber (38), Shohei Ohtani (37) and Alonso and Mookie Betts (35 each). His .936 OPS was eighth in that period (minimum 400 plate appearances).

The Yankees had injuries and poor performance all around and released Hicks (.188 average, .524 OPS, one homer, 76 plate appearances) on May 26. He signed with the Orioles on May 30 and played his first game with Baltimore on May 31.

Hicks being Hicks, he has been on the injured list twice as an Oriole. But in 202 plate appearances, Hicks also had an .843 OPS. In that period, since May 31, the only Orioles with 200 plate appearances and a higher OPS were Gunnar Henderson (.870) and Ryan Mountcastle (.846).

How many Yankees have a higher OPS than Hicks since then?

That would be zero. Their best was Aaron Judge at .841.

My totally made-up trade

I have decided to cease doing “Awards watch” because it is so late in the season and most of the information is in. At some point in the next little while, I will do my annual awards column for the newspaper.

But I can spend the winter making up trades, which is a favorite pastime of mine. The key is that anybody who reads these concepts should receive no joy out of them and take them way too seriously and not see that they are merely to throw ideas out for fun.

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) hits a single in the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, Wednesday, April 19, 2023, in Bronx, NY.
As appealing as trying to trade for Mike Trout might be, the fact that he has played less than 49 percent of the Angels’ games the past three years may make some teams think twice.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

So let’s start slow with hardly a blockbuster.

Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Rodon and Will Warren for Mike Trout.

This is not happening. All of these players have complete no-trade clauses. I suspect Stanton will not agree to leave New York, though if he did, returning home to Southern California might be the one area he would consider. Unless Rodon hated his year with the Yankees, I am not sure why he would do this. And, lastly, there have only been hints about Trout finally wanting out from an Angels franchise that is tied with the Tigers for the majors’ longest playoff drought (since 2014).

Even if they all agreed to be traded, there seems a pretty good chance the Angels are losing Ohtani to free agency this offseason. Their owner, Arte Moreno, never saw the big-picture value of trading Ohtani or Trout because he is 1) a star lover, and 2) utterly lacking in the ability to see the big picture.

To understand the big picture a bit better, the trade simulator at has Trout (-86.6 value) as a greater trade sinkhole than Stanton (-72).

That almost certainly is based on how much time and money is left on both deals. Trout has seven years left at $248.15 million. Stanton has four years at $128 million, but it would cost any club $98 million because as part of the trade to the Yankees, the Marlins agreed to pay $30 million over the final three years of the contract.

Thus, this version of the trade simulator would have the Yankees overpaying even if this was straight up Stanton for Trout. Why? The Yankees would be absorbing an additional three years beyond when Stanton’s contract concludes and an extra $150.15 million at a time when Trout turned 32 last month and has been unable to stay healthy, particularly in the past three seasons.

Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees hits a two run homer to the the game during the 12th inning when the New York Yankees played the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday, September 10, 2023 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, NY.
The $128 million Giancarlo Stanton is owed over the next four years is offset in part by the $30 million the Marlins are chipping in over the final three years.
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

Here is a way to think about Trout’s value: If he were a free agent, what would he get this offseason? It would be way less than seven years at $248.15 million.

At the conclusion of this season, he would have played in 237 of a possible 486 games from 2021-23. That is a Stanton-esque 48.8 percent of the games. And it is not as if Trout is going to be getting healthier moving forward. Would a team give Trout five years at $150 million this offseason based on his name and his still-lingering qualities? I wouldn’t.

It is why if I advised the Yankees, I would tell them not to trade for Trout, because while in the short term they would get a much better performer — when healthy — than Stanton and someone who, unlike Stanton, could go out and play the outfield, at some point, Trout likely will become their current Stanton problem (a shell of his old self and persistently unavailable).

Except now the problem would be extended three extra years and, thus, run simultaneously longer with when Aaron Judge is going to become their aging-out problem.

I would just advise the Yankees to eat Stanton’s contract, see it as a sunk cost and reconfigure the roster.

But what fun would that be here.

So just know that after this season what the Yankees owe Stanton (four years at $98 million) and what they owe Rodon (five years at $135 million) is a combined nine-year, $233 million commitment, or in range of the seven years at $248.15 million Trout is owed. So in total money, it would be a near salary wash.

New York Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodon #55, pitching in the 4th inning.
Carlos Rodon’s first season with the Yankees has not gone as either he or the team likely imagined.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

That largely would be the Yankees’ motivation — that having Trout for the next few years is way better than having Stanton and they will figure out what having him from, say, 2027-30 means when they get there.

This also would assume that after one year with Rodon, they are fine punting him. The Yankees, unfortunately for them, have become experts over the years in believing they can fix what has gone wrong with the end result being they drain whatever remaining value lingers for a Miguel Andujar or Deivi Garcia or Clint Frazier.

The trade simulator actually has Rodon as a positive asset (18.7) and, thus, adding him just to Stanton would make this an extreme overpay without also including a prospect such as Warren.

Why am I doing that?

Because Moreno is not moving Trout without being able to say he is getting a starter for now (Rodon) and a starter for later (Warren) — again, I would not do this trade if I were the Yankees.

You want me to add another reason why I wouldn’t do it? Trout has become set in his ways and his comforts in perhaps the most laid-back environment in the sport. A former Angel once told me there is no better life situation than playing for the Angels — live at the beach, easy access in and out of the stadium, less-than-demanding fans and media. I would be concerned about transplanting that into the Yankees petri dish. Trout could be energized by getting out of the losing atmosphere or in culture shock that the game on April 23 really means a lot to everyone around the Yankees.

I am just trying to suggest a deal that I think would make both sides have to convene a serious meeting.

Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels gets a bump from Arte Moreno before being given the Angels Most Valuable player award before playing the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 25, 2021 in Anaheim, California.
Angels owner Arte Morenao has shown an affinity for populating his clubhouse with stars, and may have to restock should Shohei Ohtani leave this winter.
Getty Images

Could the Yankees believe they will bid whatever they must to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto to replace Rodon? It is possible they will try to do just that this offseason to have him join Rodon and Gerrit Cole atop the rotation.

With or without Yamamoto, I included Warren because this is an area I believe the Yankees will trade from over the next few years. They sense they have a lot of righty starting pitching in and near the majors, from Clarke Schmidt laying down a positive first full season in the majors as a starter to Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez offering good moments during their yo-yo ’23 seasons to Chase Hampton and Drew Thorpe emerging as arguably the organization’s two best pitching prospects.

One attractive item for the Angels would be that the Stanton/Rodon contracts end earlier than Trout’s. And, really, Moreno is so unconnected to how value is assessed now and finds such allure in big names that he might be attracted to Stanton and Rodon. Stanton would step into the DH role if/when Ohtani leaves while Rodon would replace Ohtani as the No. 1 starter.

Still, I wouldn’t do it if I were the Yankees. I also don’t think Moreno does it because he is not emotionally ready to lose Ohtani and Trout in the same offseason. I think at least one (if not all) of the players invoke their no-trade clauses.

But if this were on your table and you can say yes or no as the GMs of the Yankees and Angels, what would you do?

Whose career do you got?

Pitching statistics.
New York Post

Do you got it?

Here we go: Pitcher A is Blake Snell from 2021-23 (through Sunday) and Pitcher B is Jordan Montgomery for the same period (before he threw seven innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts on Monday).

This covers their ages 28-30 seasons. In fact, the pitchers were born 23 days apart in 1992.

We offer this because Snell, now that Ohtani won’t pitch in at least 2024, becomes the top starter available this winter, especially since he is probably the current NL Cy Young Award favorite.

When he is right — as he has been for most of the last four months — Snell is an ace. It is why he is going to get considerably more money than Montgomery.

But does the fact that their three-year numbers are not so different suggest Mongtomery is better than perception, Snell is worse or some combination?

Since May 25, Snell had made 21 starts with a 1.33 ERA and a .162 average against. When he is locked in, Snell can scream he is throwing a curveball before delivering and it is so elite, it still isn’t going to get hit.

But even in that period, he had a 7.4 percent walk rate and has gotten an out in the seventh inning just twice in 21 starts.

San Diego Padres starting pitcher Blake Snell throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Los Angeles
Blake Snell hasn’t been efficient, but he has been effective for the Padres as he heads into free agency.

There is a flammable quality about Snell that would worry me about signing him. The upside is tantalizing. But look at that walk percentage over the past three years. Look at the lack of quality starts, in part because he throws so many pitches that it is difficult for him to get to even six innings.

Montgomery, who, like Snell, is represented by Scott Boras, lacks the No. 1 starter upside, though FanGraphs had him tied with Snell at 3.6 Wins Above Replacement this season. That site heavily penalizes walk rates. Baseball Reference, alternatively, has Snell at 5.3 WAR and Snell at 2.9 (yet another indication that WAR should be used as a guide, not a bible).

Montgomery has been traded into a pennant race in each of the past two seasons — to St. Louis in 2022 and to Texas this year. His consistency is his strength. He had a 3.69 ERA with the Yankees last season and 3.11 after being dealt to the Cardinals. He had a 3.42 ERA with the Cardinals this season and 3.59 with the Rangers. And he has been durable. His 91 starts are tied for the ninth-most in the majors over the past three seasons.

Has Montgomery clearly become the No. 2 lefty in the free-agent starter market behind Snell, passing Eduardo Rodriguez, who also is completing his age-30 season?

I am not counting Clayton Kershaw because his pattern is he will either retire, re-sign for a year with the Dodgers or sign back home with the Rangers. Thus, he is not a prime-aged possibility open to the larger market. Julio Urias, because he only turned 27 in August, might have been more in demand than Snell. But MLB placed him on administrative leave while it investigates allegations of domestic violence. His short-term and long-term futures are in doubt.

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery throws to the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023, in Arlington, Texas.
From the Yankees to the Cardinals to the Rangers, Jordan Montgomery has quietly proved to be a reliable starter.

Thus, Snell is at the top of the market, then come Montgomery and Rodriguez in some order. But what order? And just how great will the industry perceive the separation as they ask whose career you would rather have for the next five or so years?

Last licks

I was recently talking to the top baseball executive for a team about the upcoming free-agent market, and he said something I really liked:

“The game is changing with the new rules. Everyone is trying to get younger and more athletic. Here is one thing I can guarantee: You are not getting younger and more athletic in free agency.”

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