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Pete Alonso’s value and other early thoughts on 2023 Mets

MIAMI — Some things thought of while wondering why the replay man keeps getting it wrong, and sometimes also takes forever before dispending his/her misjudgment.

Pete Alonso may or may not be the Mets’ best all-around player. But he has to be their most indispensable player.

Alonso was walked his first two times up Saturday, which might have something to do with Marlins starter Edward Cabrera not having much clue about the strike zone early. Or maybe it was because Cabrera knew better than to let Alonso beat him. Alonso avoidance should be the goal of every pitcher facing the Mets.

“I can’t worry if they’re trying to avoid me,” Alonso said after his double accounted for the go-ahead run in the Mets’ 6-2 victory over the Marlins. “I just try to focus on getting a ball in my area, and if it’s in my area, I try to capitalize.”

Given his first chance of the day, Alonso drove a slider from Marlins lefty reliever Andrew Nardi into the left field corner to drive home good friend Jeff McNeil and put the Mets ahead for good. He led the majors in RBIs last year (tied with the amazing Aaron Judge) when he had a quality, and diverse lineup but no other bona fide sluggers around him, and he may be on his way to repeating in a similar situation.

Steve Cohen obviously came close to acquiring superstar Carlos Correa for $315 million before an issue with his ankle caused the Mets to kill that deal. So Alonso is back in the same spot as the lone true middle-of-the-order banger.

Mets first baseman Pete Alonso

Alonso is known for being at his best in Home Run Derbies, when the pitcher is trying to serve it up to him (Ex-Mets coach Dave Jauss is the favored specialist for that). But he’s perfectly adept when pitchers are doing everything they can to make sure he doesn’t beat them, too.

Starter Tylor Megill’s specialty seems to be filling in for a legend. This time it was Cooperstown-bound Justin Verlander, who was out of action with a low-grade strain of the teres major muscle (armpit area), and Megill came up with his second-most important win of his career, surviving five solid innings. Last year while filling in for Cooperstown-bound Max Scherzer on Opening Day, Megill threw five shutout innings at Washington, winning 5-1.

Megill denied replacing a legend is his specialty. He said, “It’s not like I’m trying to fill his shoes, I’m just trying to fill his spot.”

Brooks Raley is quite a weapon out of the bullpen. When the Mets acquired him at the winter meetings, few noticed. That may be because superstars were coming off the board left and right — some to the Mets, who signed Verlander at the meetings, and re-signed Brandon Nimmo just after the meetings.

Anyway, Raley looks outstanding for the Mets. I can see why they acquired him. And I can see why they pulled him from the World Baseball Classic at the slightest hint of a hamstring issue.

If he was ever really hurt, he clearly is not now. He looked dominant in his first Mets outing, then came in to get the key out Saturday, inducing Jazz Chisholm Jr. to ground out to second base as the potential tying runner in the seventh.

“He comes in, throws strikes and has multiple weapons,” Showalter said. “It’s a good addition for us.”

Frankly it’s just nice to see the Mets employing a competent lefty out of the pen after enduring the Joely Rodriguez Era.

It might be time to start worrying about Eduardo Escobar, who had a .286 OPS in spring and looks about the same at the start of the season.

“[The Mets] are giving up way too many outs before the game even starts,” a scout said.

USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The Mets are concerned about Escobar, but they say they will give him more time. Really, there’s little choice. Though Brett Baty, the No. 21 prospect in MLB, had a big game yesterday, he needs more seasoning. Only prodigies like Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado skip Triple-A entirely. The likes of Ronald Acuna Jr., Yordan Alvarez and Kris Bryant all had hundreds of Triple-A at-bats before their call-ups.

I don’t get the point of replays when they refuse to overturn wrong calls. Marlins first baseman Garrett Cooper clearly appeared to come off the bag while reaching for third baseman Jean Segura’s throw, seeming to allow Alonso to reach safely.

“I saw it that way too,” Showalter said. “That’s another one where I guess in their mind there wasn’t enough to overturn it.”

The replay official somehow stuck with the out call. That’s two days in a row that happened. On Friday, Nimmo appeared safe at first on a ground ball to shortstop, but after an interminable delay, the umpires announced the call would stand. It’s to the point where we wonder if replay officials don’t want to offend the umpires.

I love all the new rules. But here’s a rule they might consider: Overturn calls that are very likely wrong. Don’t worry about offending the umpire. They know they are just guessing on bang-bang plays, anyway. Or should know.