Despite a disastrous 2018 season in which only four teams have produced inferior records, the Mets aren’t planning to embark on any kind of rebuild, assistant GM John Ricco tells reporters (Twitter link, with video, via MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo). Ricco suggests that while the next two months “won’t be the be-all and end-all,” they’ll help to evaluate players such as Jeff McNeil as the team looks to determine its areas of need in the offseason — most specifically on the position-player side of the equation. Ricco adds that he believes Dominic Smith will be a part of the team moving forward, stating that he’s “getting more experience” in left field. While the Mets will be facing a significant number of holes in the offseason and myriad health uncertainties, Ricco states plainly: “We’re going to try to be competitive and be a playoff team next year.”
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- DiComo also writes in a full column that while an MRI ruled out any structural damage in Steven Matz’s forearm and elbow, the left-hander is nonetheless expected to require a stint on the 10-day disabled list due to a “mild flexor-pronator strain.” It doesn’t appear that the team currently believes Matz will face an extended absence, with both Ricco and manager Mickey Callaway suggesting that a DL placement would be a “conservative” approach to the injury. If and when Matz does land on the disabled list, DiComo notes that right-hander Corey Oswalt is the likeliest candidate to replace him.
- Ricco spoke with the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan about perhaps the most critical component to his team’s 2019 success: injury prevention. “A lot of this stuff is systemic,” Ricco acknowledged, emphasizing a need to change the mindsets, routines and habits of his players as well as the team’s internal medical processes. A focus on younger players isn’t necessarily a cure-all for the Mets’ injury woes, he noted, as there’s been no shortage of younger players incurring notable injuries troubles (e.g. Matz, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto). As Kernan writes, while Mickey Callaway has had some hiccups in his first exposure to managing at the MLB level, he’s also been vocal about some of the team’s internal organizational deficiencies — a trait which Ricco calls “one of the reasons we brought him in.”
- Following up a recent report from colleague Buster Olney, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is increasingly mentioned as a “likely top candidate” for the Mets’ GM vacancy. Crasnick adds that Diamondbacks assistant GM Jared Porter, also a former high-ranking Red Sox executive, is also “generating some buzz” with regard to that opening. Currently, the Mets have the trio of Ricco and special assistants Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi heading up baseball operations in place of Sandy Alderson, who stepped away from the role to undergo treatment for a cancer relapse. That arrangement, however, is not permanent, though Ricco himself figures to be among the candidates to take the GM chair in Queens in the offseason.