There have been plenty of critics of the 2023 New York Mets, and one of the team’s former players joined in with some comments published Thursday.
Veteran outfielder Tommy Pham began the season with the Mets after signing a one-year, $6 million deal with the team but was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks at the MLB trade deadline. The Mets organization apparently didn’t impress him during his four months playing for them.
In The Athletic’s deep dive into the Mets’ struggles, Pham recalled a conversation he had with Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor in which he described the position players in unkind terms:
Pham says he told Lindor, “Out of all the teams I played on, this is the least-hardest working group of position players I’ve ever played with.”
Those words were reportedly said at a dinner with Lindor, Pham, infielder Eduardo Escobar and catcher Francisco Alvarez at a Fogo de Chão in Pittsburgh. Pham later added that there were some Mets players whose work ethic he respected: Lindor, Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo.
The feeling was apparently mutual, as Lindor told The Athletic that he said to Pham, “Hey, man, thank you for teaching me how to work hard again,” when the outfielder was traded in exchange for infield prospect Jeremy Rodriguez.
In addition to the Mets and D-backs, Pham has played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox, in case you’re wondering which position players he places above the Mets.
The Mets’ reaction to Pham’s criticism was pretty muted, including from manager Buck Showalter:
Buck Showalter was asked about Tommy Pham’s comments in The Athletic:
“Tommy is entitled to his opinion. What works for one player may not work for another. It’s fine. I see the work these guys put in each day” pic.twitter.com/82aN8BZwkb
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 21, 2023
“Tommy is entitled to his opinion. What works for one player may not work for another. It’s fine. I see the work these guys put in every day … I don’t even comment on it, we got other things to be on top of. Getting the team ready to play and finish the year. Tommy’s had a good year, and we wish him well.”
The Athletic also got reactions from Nimmo and infielder Jeff McNeil. The latter was not included in Pham’s group of hard-working players.
“Guys are super professional around here,” Jeff McNeil countered. “We go about our business, and everybody comes ready to play and does what they need to do.”
“Each person needs to assess that individually,” said Nimmo of the club’s work ethic. “You can only lead a horse to water; you can’t make him drink. Ultimately, a lot of this comes down to individuals and what they’re willing to do.”
Whether you believe Pham, the fact that he can say this kind of stuff is reflective of how awful the Mets have been this season. The team entered 2023 with a roster that won 101 games last season and the biggest payroll in MLB. Entering Thursday, they were 71-81 after selling hard at the deadline, with Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander also sent away.
There’s never an easy explanation for why a team goes from 101 wins to well below .500, but the Mets are now trying to fix things with the hiring of David Stearns after pivoting to the future.
Pham is famously forceful with his opinions (just ask Joc Pederson’s cheek), and again, the Mets didn’t give him much rebuttal with their play on the field. He is also enjoying one of the better seasons of his career, hitting .263/.333/.465 while starting nearly every day for the 79-72 Diamondbacks.