Monday, July 16, 2018

deGrom's Agent to Mets: "Show Me the Money!"

Call it a moment right out of the movie Jerry McGuire, only this time it is deGrom’s agent, Brodie van Waganen is playing Cuba Gooding Jr’s role in the film.

Van Wagenen dropped an ultimatum at the lap of the Mets front office when he told Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that his client wants a long term deal, or, the franchise should consider trading deGrom this season.

We have discussed Jacob’s future with the Mets at length. Jacob has expressed interest in exploring a long-term partnership that would keep him in a Mets uniform for years to come.

“If the Mets don’t share [the] same interest, we believe their best course of action is to seriously consider trade opportunities now. The inertia of [the] current situation could complicate Jacob’s relationship with the club and creates an atmosphere of indecision.”

Van Wagenen later told the New York Post’s Joel Sherman that deGrom is not demanding a trade, but rather expressing his interest to remain with the team long-term. The agent added that the two sides have talked, but no formal numbers have been exchanged at this point.

DeGrom,30, is being paid $7.4 million this season by the Mets, and is arbitration eligible the next two years. deGrom has expressed a desire on multiple occasions that he wants to finish his career with the Mets.

If the Mets can keep deGrom long-term, they defiantly should explore it.  deGrom has been one of baseballs best pitchers this season, posting a league best 1.68 ERA, in spite of pitching for a team that is 16 games under .500.

Moreover, deGrom has been the steadiest presence in the Mets rotation since he came up to the big leagues in 2014. While everyone was going gaga over Matt Harvey in 2013 and Noah Syndergaard in 2015 and 16, it has been deGrom who established himself as the Mets true ace. 

Over 126 starts in his career, deGrom owns a 2.78 ERA, which is third best in franchise history Jesse Orosco and Tom Seaver. deGrom is also first in strikeouts per nine innings with 9.851.  He has been the ultimate professional and deserves to be paid handsomely.

The problem is the Mets front office is a total conundrum.  With Sandy Alderson out of the picture, the Mets are resting on a three-headed GM triumphant of John Ricco, Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardo for the rest of the season. There is no telling what this trio may decide to do in the next two weeks before the trade deadline. 

If the Mets feel they can get a great offer for deGrom, who will be 31-years old next season, they are going to explore it. If the Mets do trade him, they can’t accept the kind of return they got for Tom Seaver when they dealt him to the Cincinnati Reds in 1977.

In addition, the Mets are expected to interview candidates for the GM job come September. There is a chance that the future head of the Mets baseball operations is sitting in an office outside of Flushing, Queens, New York. Would that person want to come into a situation where the Mets best asset was traded by three guys? Would this new General Manager want to be saddled with a long-term contract with a 30-year old pitcher?

These are legitimate questions. And this is the problem the Mets find themselves in. Logically New York should keep deGrom, but with each no decision and loss that he racks up because of little-to-no run support, the frustration will only grow.   

Mickey Callaway Expected to Return in 2019

According to several reports the Mets are intent on bringing back Mickey Callaway as manager in 2019, granting him the opportunity to correct the many problems that have befallen both him and the franchise this season. Callaway is signed through the 2020 season making any decision to release him after one season a little tricky. 

With the Mets limping into the All Star Break at 39-53, it is a little surprising that an announcement on Callaway's future would come now.

At the same time, the St. Louis Cardinals just fired their manager Mike Matheny after a 47-46 start to the 2018 season. Matheny had been the Cardinals skipper for seven years, and took that franchise to a World Series berth in 2013. Matheny is one of three former managers on the market with managerial experience. The other two being former Yankees skipper Joe Girardi and former Red Sox manager John Farrell. 

Meanwhile Callway has struggled to adapt to the New York market and managing at the same time. In addition to watching his team fall apart after an 11-1 start, Callaway struggled with double-switches and bullpen decisions throughout the first half. In fact, the Mets are 25th in the major's in bullpen ERA at 4.65 and 18th in the league in overall team ERA at 4.27.

The now infamous lineup fiasco in Cincinnati early in the season serves as a microcosm of the season thus far.

That being said, the Mets have been snake-bit by many of the same problems they endured the past two seasons with various injuries to its top stars.  When the Mets had a healthy Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Noah Syndergaard, this team was right in the mix in the NL East. 

Still, the decision to announce the clubs intention with Callaway is interesting since they are expected to interview candidates for the vacant General Manager job left by Sandy Alderson this September. Callaway was Alderson's pick to be the manager of this ball club when he hired him last October. With Alderson out of the picture as he battles cancer, the question remains, will another GM want Callaway as their manager? Most GM's want the ability to go out and hire their own guy to coach the team.

It appears that won't be the case in New York. 

The decision also begs the question whether current Interim General Manager John Ricco has the inside track to the job? Ricco and Callaway are familiar with one another. It would seem that such stability in the front office would benefit Callaway moving forward should both men return. 

If the Mets go outside the organization in their GM search, Callaway almost certainly will feel a lot of heat throughout the 2019 season.

The New York Mets are a **Bleepin** Mess

On this edition of the Open Mike Program, John Pielli and I continue our discussion on baseball, only this time on the New York Mets.

The Mets are 39-53 as they enter the All Star Break, and have been stricken by bad luck, bad play and bad management all year long. What will it take to fix this mess? Listen to the podcast.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Will Manny Machado Be a Yankee?

On this edition of the Open Mike Podcast, I welcome John Pielli on the show to talk about the Trade Deadline rumors that are heating up around baseball.

The Yankees are favorites to land Baltimore Orioles slugger Manny Machado for some of New York's top prospects. Is this the right move? Shouldn't the Yankees be more focused on getting pitching, which they will need in order to overtake the Red Sox in the AL East. We talk about here.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Yankees Roll Past Red Sox to Open Pivotal 4th of July Weekend Series


It's June 29. Temperatures are in the upper 90s. And yet, around New York it feels like September. Serious September baseball that is.

The Yankees and Red Sox entered Friday's opener of a three-game series in a dead-heat for the the AL East lead and the best record in all of baseball. All things considered, both teams are on pace to win 108 games this year. So to say a lot is at stake this weekend is an understatement.

And the Yankees got off to a good start in the win department.

The Yankees dominated the Red Sox, Friday, 8-1 behind two blasts from Greg Bird, and homers by Miguel Andjuar and Aaron Judge to boot.

The Yankees, who lead all of Major League Baseball in home runs with 127, lived up to the moniker as Bronx Bombers on Friday night.

And to think the fireworks really didn't get underway until the Bombers held a 2-0 lead on a RBI single by Andjuar and a sac fly by Gleyber Torres.

Then the bombs came. Andujar crushed the second pitch he saw from Eduardo Rodriguez to left to give the Yanks a 4-0 lead. Bird followed, working the count to 3-2, before slapping a Rodriguez fastball over the left field wall to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead.

That was more than enough insurance for CC Sabathia. The crafty, 37-year old lefty gave the Yankees seven superb innings, allowing only one run on six hits with five strikeouts. Sabathia is now 5-3 on the year. It was Sabathia's most complete effort since May 4, when he held the Indians to three hits over six innings in a no decision. It was the first time CC went seven innings for the win since April 29, a 2-1 victory over the LA Angels in Anaheim.

The Yankees need performances like that from CC when it counts. He delivered big time tonight, and he has to for the rest of the year.

Offensively, the Yankees continued the home run barrage in the seventh inning when Aaron Judge connected on a two-run blast to make it 7-1. Greg Bird wrapped up his big night with a solo-shot to right in the eighth to make it 8-1.

At 53-26, the Yankees are tied via percentage points with the Red Sox, who fall to 55-28.

The two rivals meet again Saturday night when Sonny Gray toes the rubber for the Yankees opposite Red Sox ace, Chris Sale. First pitch at 7:15 on FOX 5.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sandy Alderson Steps Aside as Mets General Manager

New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson is taking an immediate leave of absence to address his personal health, according to several reports on Tuesday.

According to the New York Daily News, Alderson admitted that he is stepping aside in order to fight a form of cancer that returned in April, and he will undergo chemotherapy.

As a result Alderson's top lieutenant John Ricco will serve as the interim General Manager, splitting time with one-time Mets GM Omar Minaya, who is in the front office leading the clubs scouting department.

When asked by reporters on Tuesday whether Alderson will return to his normal duties when and if the cancer is under control, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon didn't want to speculate, only stating that Alderson's health comes first.

This is not the first time that Alderson has been hit by cancer. In December of 2015 he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent chemo to treat the disease in early 2016. He wound up having surgery later that same year.

Alderson did indicated that he has been undergoing treatment since he was re-diagnosed in April, adding that he expects to have surgery this summer, and that his "prognosis is actually good."

It is interesting that the news is coming when the team is in the midst of turning into the worst team in the National League. The Mets dropped their seventh in a row last night to the Pittsburgh Pirates, falling to 31-45 on the season. New York is 20-44 since an 11-1 start to the season.

The entire season has been marred by horrendous offensive performances on a nightly basis, inconsistent pitching, injuries, and an encyclopedia of managerial gaffs by first year skipper Mickey Callaway. In short, the 2018 season has been a complete nightmare for all involved.

For weeks fans have been wondering whether the Mets would eventually part ways with Alderson at some point this season, considering how poorly the team has underachieved since its surprising World Series run in 2015.

While Alderson gets lots of brownie points for acquiring Yoenis Cespedes in 2015, and having Noah Syndergaard fall into his lap in the R.A. Dickey trade with Toronto in 2013, he has received plenty of criticism for his inability to build a competent minor league system and for putting way too much stock in aging players well past their prime.

“I feel personally responsible for the results that we’ve had,” Alderson told reporters on Tuesday. “At the same time, I have confidence in our manager, our staff, our players that this will change.”

Again, there is no indication that Alderson will return to the Mets this season or ever.

The news changes the story-line for the Mets. Now fans will get a first hand look at how John Ricco handles to role as GM for an extended period of time. Ricco was once Mets interim GM for all of three weeks back in October of 2010 when the Mets, ironically, fired Minaya before hiring Alderson. Now Ricco gets to replace Alderson and will have Minaya working with him.  Can you say: awkward?

Ricco will now be responsible for some of the biggest decisions moving forward for New York, namely selling off players come the July 31 trade deadline. Will Ricco and company keep Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard? Will they be more willing to tear the team down and begin a full rebuild? Is Ricco the next full time GM of the Mets? And what does this all mean for Mickey Callaway and his future with the club?

There are a lot of questions, and we will begin to get the answers in the coming days and weeks. One thing is certain, the Mets are moving in a new direction without Sandy Alderson.

Friday, May 25, 2018

New York Yankees Rolling into Memorial Day

The Yankees are in hot pursuit of the Boston Red Sox with the second best record in Major League Baseball at 31-15. Now, the Bombers return home for a crucial home-stand against the Angels and Astros. I talk about the Yankees with Karen Vankat on this edition of the Open Mike Podcast.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

NFL Decision on National Anthem Protest Enforces a Fiasco

The NFL and its owners unanimously approved a new National Anthem policy that will require all players to stand for the anthem when they are on the field or face a fine if they found kneeling.

As good as that sounds, the policy is chuck full of loopholes, and little detail on how the league intends to enforce the rule, meaning that Roger Goodell and crew made a rule built more on lip-service than actual reform.

By it's definition the policy says it "requires players to stand IF they are on the field during the performance," while giving teams and players an easy out, specifically the "option to remain in the locker room" during the National Anthem.

If any player is found kneeling during the Anthem, the franchise is subject to fines (we don't know how much), and teams will have the option to fine any players and personnel as it deems necessary.

First, when the hell did the National Anthem become optional? It's like saying you don't have to go to work if you don't want to, and not face any repercussions.

By making a policy it thinks will solve a problem, the NFL just creates more problems for itself.

Aside from the fact that they didn't outline how severe the fines will be for the anthem protest, giving players an easy out is only going to make the protest that much more of a distraction.

Just think about it, the camera's are scanning the sidelines during a Giants' game. Suddenly we notice that Odell Beckham and Eli Manning are not on the sideline but in the locker room. Does this mean they are protesting the Anthem? Are they getting treatment? Do they hate America this much? You know this will be analyzed by every commentator and couch-potato.

And, believe me with camera's on the field during the National Anthem, it will be more about who is NOT on the field than who is on the field. Remember when the Steelers decided to sit in the locker room as a team during the playing of the Anthem in Week 2 at Chicago? That didn't go over too well, especially when offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva was the ONLY MAN STANDING for Pittsburgh.

If the NFL wants to enforce a rule, enforce it with no loopholes!

With loopholes, teams will try to take advantage of it. And one team already saying it has no problem bending the rule is the New York Jets. Jets owner, Chris Johnson said he will not discourage players from kneeling even if it results in the club being fined by the NFL, (Cimini, ESPN).

"I will support our players wherever we land as a team. Our focus is not on imposing any club rules, fines or restrictions."

In other words, expect the Jets and any other team that feels frisky with a loose rule to test the NFL by kneeling. In short, the problem is not going away.

Furthermore the NFL does not address the actual issue that players are bringing up. There are a bunch of players who feel there is "injustice" going on in the country when it comes to relations between police and minorities in inner cities. Shouldn't the NFL, it's owners and players come up with a more comprehensive plan to get involved in the community?  Shouldn't there be an effort to work with law enforcement to provide education to youths in at risk locations?  Forgotten in all of this is a $89 million "social justice" platform that the NFL finalized. What's in it?

If the NFL wanted to get this right, standing for the National Anthem should be MANDATORY with no loopholes for players to duck in and out of the locker room in order to protest the flag if they feel like it. Anyone who is not standing, or is not on the field during the anthem should be fined severely with the possibility of suspension, period. All the money collected from such behavior can then be turned into a good cause to support recreation programs for at risk youths.

Why is it so hard for the NFL to get it right?