todd frazier

Hugely disappointing Mets could have one of MLB's most interesting trade deadlines

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Hugely disappointing Mets could have one of MLB's most interesting trade deadlines

It never seems to get better for Mets fans.

Expectations were extremely high for the Mets coming into the season. The reigning Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom, was returning, along with Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, who pitched as well in the second half last season as Aaron Nola.

Edwin Diaz, the best closer in baseball last season, was acquired, along with Robinson Cano, who was clearly declining and has a bad contract but still hit .292 with an .840 OPS the previous three seasons.

And yet here are the Mets, less than a week from the trade deadline and in position to potentially move one or more of Syndergaard, Wheeler and Diaz.

The belief, for a while, was that Wheeler was the most realistic trade candidate. He's a free agent after the season and teams that are 12½ games out around the trade deadline typically sell those pieces. But according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Mets may go in a different direction. They may choose instead to trade Syndergaard and look to extend Wheeler.

That approach would make a lot of sense. Syndergaard offers the Mets a chance to rebuild the farm system with top-end talent in a way that trading Wheeler cannot. The Padres have long coveted Syndergaard, and the Twins have also reportedly shown strong interest.

Truth be told, Syndergaard is a lot better in theory than he's been in reality. He has a 4.33 ERA in 20 starts this season. He's struck out just under a batter per inning despite possessing four-seam and two-seam fastballs that routinely touch 98-99 mph. He's hittable surprisingly often. His control is so strong that batters know they'll get a pitch in the zone. He can't hold runners on. He doesn't go especially deep into games, often finding himself at 100-105 pitches through six innings.

There is a perception that Syndergaard is an ace. He's not an ace. He's very good, but he might provide the Mets more value in a trade than he could going out there every fifth day the next couple seasons.

As for Diaz ... how ironic it would be if the Mets did trade him before Wednesday's deadline. It probably won't happen. First-year general manager Brodie Van Wagenen traded arguably the Mets' top two prospects, outfielder Jarred Kelenic and pitcher Justin Dunn, in addition to taking on $100 million-plus of Cano's contract, to acquire Diaz. It was an extremely bold move. Van Wagenen hadn't even gotten an up-close look at what Kelenic and Dunn could do.

It has worked out disastrously, with Diaz having the worst season of his career and the Mets being uncompetitive early in the summer. The optics of trading Diaz for less than it cost to acquire him would be awful, especially for a first-year GM and especially in New York. Selling low is illogical.

The Mets, though, figure to be one of the most active sellers at the deadline. Beyond these three pitchers, Todd Frazier is also likely to be moved. 

Two guys who will be going nowhere are rookies Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso. McNeil leads the majors with a .340 batting average and Alonso already has 34 home runs in 102 games. It's pretty incredible how bad the Mets are despite the eye-popping contributions of that duo.

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Todd Frazier responds to Jake Arrieta's fightin' words

Todd Frazier responds to Jake Arrieta's fightin' words

NEW YORK — Hit batsmen and chirping between the teams have been constant themes in this season’s Phillies-Mets series. The teams have played 13 times and 15 players have been hit — nine Mets and six Phillies. 

So even though it was a Jake Arrieta changeup, it was at least somewhat understandable why Todd Frazier was so angry last night in the heat of the moment after being unintentionally plunked. He had also been hit the night before. 

“I am just sick of getting hit, especially by this team,” Frazier told Mets reporters Sunday morning

Frazier did overreact Saturday night. The Phillies had the lead in the fifth inning and were not trying to put anyone on base. After the incident and Frazier’s ejection, the Mets came back to beat Arrieta, who has been terrible lately and is dealing with a bone spur in his elbow.

Manager Gabe Kapler said Sunday morning that Arrieta will see Phillies doctors this week and a decision will be made whether he can pitch through it.

In the Phillies’ clubhouse postgame Saturday, Arrieta made a comment that may earn him a slap on the wrist by the league. 

“Frazier’s not happy about it, he can come see me and I’ll put a dent in his skull,” Arrieta said

Frazier responded Sunday morning, telling Mets reporters simply that “he can say what he wants” and mentioning he’s sick of being hit by the Phillies. “A little overboard,” Frazier said. 

There has been some bad blood between these teams. Reliever Jacob Rhame threw two pitches over Rhys Hoskins’ head on April 23 at Citi Field, then was taken deep the next night by Hoskins, who purposely slow-jogged around the bases to soak it in.

Last week at Citizens Bank Park in a four-game series the Phillies swept, Mets lefty Jason Vargas chirped at Scott Kingery after retiring him, to the confusion of Kingery.

The incredibly disappointing Mets are on edge. The Phillies, too, have dealt with a month’s worth of frustration. It certainly has surfaced in these recent head-to-heads. 

After Sunday, the teams won’t meet again until Aug. 30 in Philadelphia. 

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Jake Arrieta is ready to deliver a beating after absorbing one himself

Jake Arrieta is ready to deliver a beating after absorbing one himself

NEW YORK — Something more than Jake Arrieta’s ERA might be hurting.

After getting beat up by the New York Mets in the Phillies’ 6-5 loss at Citi Field on Saturday night, Arrieta hinted that he might be injured. He was pressed on that a couple of times, but refused to offer more information.

He did, however, threaten to injure someone else — specifically Mets’ third baseman Todd Frazier, who did not enjoy getting hit by one of Arrieta’s pitches in the fifth inning.

“Frazier’s not happy about it, he can come see me and I’ll put a dent in his skull,” Arrieta said in front of his locker in the visiting clubhouse.

Frazier, who was ejected in that fifth inning, had already left the ballpark and was not around to respond to Arrieta’s threat. Sunday’s series finale, the last game before the All-Star break, could be interesting, not that Phillies manager Gabe Kapler will be looking for a beef. He’s more concerned with getting his failing team back on track before it’s too late. The Phillies have lost 21 of their last 34 and squandered a 3½-game lead in the NL East. They are now in third place in the division, 6½ games back (see observations).

“It’s not something that’s even on my mind,” Kapler said of the possibility of fireworks between the two teams on Sunday. “We’re a baseball team that lost an important game. It’s a disappointing loss for us. Those are the kind of games we need to win.”

Arrieta could not hold an early 3-1 lead. He was tagged for 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. He also hit three batters, two in the fifth inning when the Mets took control of the game on a three-run double by Tomas Nido.

“I labored physically,” Arrieta said. “I wasn't able to put the ball where I wanted to. It's been that way for a few weeks. Just physically not in a great spot.”

Arrieta has indeed struggled for a few weeks. His ERA over his last seven starts is 6.67. He has given up 53 hits in 38 innings over that span.

Arrieta was pressed on his comment about not being in a great spot physically.

“It’s just tough,” he said. “Right now, it’s tough for me to put the ball where I want to. I lost feel for everything. I think I hit three guys with changeups and that’s really not characteristic of kind of the way I pitch.”

Arrieta was asked if he was hurt.

He responded with a lengthy pause and a sigh.

“Overall I feel all right,” he finally said. “But we’ll see.”

He was asked about the pause.

“Overall I feel pretty good,” he said. “We’ll see in the next couple of days.”

The next couple of days? Does he have an exam scheduled?

“No,” he said. “I think we’ll have a better idea over the next couple of days where I’m at."

Will the All-Star break help him?

 “Yeah,” Arrieta said. “Well, I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever hit guys with changeups multiple times in a game.”

Hitters usually don’t take offense at being hit with off-speed pitches, but Frazier, who’d been hit by Vince Velasquez the night before, was quite upset after taking Arrieta’s 0-1 changeup off the arm. Frazier had a few things to say as he walked to first base. He was ejected after protesting home plate umpire Tripp Gibson’s decision to warn both teams.

Arrieta did not like some of the things Frazier was saying.

“He didn’t say [crap] to me,” Arrieta said. “Talking to the umpire. I’m 25 feet away. He wants to come out there, he can come out there.

“We’ve had pretty good history in the past, but I don’t care about that. If he’s mad, then we can talk about it man to man.”

Arrieta hit a second batter with a changeup in the inning and that loaded the bases. Nido quickly unloaded them and Kapler went to the mound to remove Arrieta.

“He was grinding,” Kapler said. “You could tell he was grinding. He didn’t have his best stuff. The command wasn’t there and he was fighting to get us through five or six innings, and you could see that from the very beginning.”

Arrieta’s season ERA is up to 4.67 in 18 starts. Over his last 27 starts, dating to Aug. 12 when he began a late-season slide in 2018, his ERA is 5.17. The Phillies thought they were getting more than that for their three-year, $75 million investment. 

Despite their recent fade in the standings, the Phils still have time to make a run. But it will be awfully difficult if Arrieta doesn’t improve — or if it turns out that he’s hurt.

“We all have work to do and certainly I think Jake has some work to do as well,” Kapler said. “He’s working on his craft all the time, looking for ways to get stronger down the stretch and we’ll be leaning heavily on him. That was true early in the season and it’s true now as well.”

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