Saturday, July 22, 2017

Yoenis Cespedes Throws Terry Collins Under the Bus

When Terry Collins looks in the mirror tonight, he will see the tread marks that came from the bus driven by his left fielder Yoenis Cespedes.

 Cespedes did himself, his manager and the Mets no favors Friday night when he opened up to the San Francisco Chronicle that he would like to finish his career in Oakland, and considers A's manager Bob Melvin the best manager he's ever played for. 

In an article by Oakland beat writer Susan Slusser, Cespedes told her that he would like to finish his career where it started, with the A's. 

Here is the quote from the story. 

“I wish that happens,” C├ęspedes said, adding of former A’s and current Mets teammate Jerry Blevins, “I told Blevins, ‘I don’t know how many years I’m going to play, but I’m going to play the last year of my career with Oakland.’ I don’t know if that’s possible or not, but that’s my goal.”

Later in the interview, Cespedes admitted that he had a terrific rapport with Melvin, citing as long as Melvin manages the A's he wants to be there. 

“I tell my guys here all the time that he’s the best manager for me so far,” C├ęspedes said. “I don’t think there’s a better manager than Melvin.”

When asked about Cespedes' comments in the postgame, Terry Collins said it was the first he heard of it, calling Melvin a great manager, but had no comment beyond that. 

Finally, once the New York media questioned Cespedes about the comments he answered every question through his interpreter, refusing to speak english.  In case you are wondering he was more than willing to speak in plain english to the San Francisco Chronicle when he threw the Mets under the bus. 

Cespedes tried to put out the fire, admitting that he felt it would be nice to one day finish his career in Oakland, but meant no disrespect to the Mets or Terry Collins.  To some on Friday that was enough, but speaking through the interpreter after basically throwing his current employer under the bus was the cheap way out of a sticky situation. 

 While he likely meant well, the comments are bad optics. They do not come at a good time for the Mets or Terry Collins, whom some expect is in his final two-and-a-half months as manager. 

Cespedes should have put some thought into his answers, because Collins has had his back all the time, especially when Cespedes' commitment to the game has been questioned. Whenever Cespedes went down with an injury, it was Collins who would run into the outfield to see if he was okay. So, while Bob Melvin might have been great to Cespedes when he was in Oakland, Collins has been a very solid leader for the Mets left fielder. 

What's most troubling is the comments come as Cespedes is in the first year of a four-year contract that is paying him $22.5 million this season. He is due $29 million in each of the next two seasons, and $29.5 million in 2020. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021. These comments make it look like Cespedes is counting the days to free agency. 

Cespedes should have done a better job clearing the air. One only hopes he means what he said, and will explain himself to his teammates and Terry Collins, so everyone can move on from this. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Why the Mets Shouldn't Promote Tebow to 40-Man Just Yet

As seen on Scout.com, my article on the whether the Mets should promote Tim Tebow come September in order to fill seats.

When the Mets went all in on bringing Tim Tebow into the organization, one has to hope that they knew what they were doing because Tebow is currently figuring things out at Port St. Lucie, and, like clockwork, the Tebow-fanatics and the media are peppering Sandy Alderson with questions about Tebow’s future in ** gasp ** the major leagues.

Ok, you can drop the paper bag you are blowing into.

Yes, Tebow is playing well. He had a 12-game hitting streak and, just recently, had three hits in a game against Fort Myers.  Does this mean that a promotion to the majors should be in the offing? Absolutely not. Tebow does not deserve promotion to the majors.

With the Mets quickly falling out of contention and staring at an August and September of pure gloom, yet there is a prevailing thought that the Mets should promote Tebow just to put fans in the seats.

If such an idea were to actually come to fruition, it would make the Mets look like the total circus act that many already perceive them to be.

Assuming that the Mets call up Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith before rosters expand in September, there is no logical baseball reason to bring Tebow up to the big leagues. For one, a lot of the hype is built on just three very solid weeks for Tebow. Before getting promoted, Tebow was struggling to hit over .220 in Class-A Charleston over a period of two-and-a-half months. This recent surge has to make one wonder which Tebow is the real Tebow? 

Second, Tebow hasn’t proven at all that he can hit Double-A and Triple-A pitching. Before any promotion, one would hope to assume Tebow would need to prove his worth at a higher level over an extended period of time.

Finally, if the Mets shoot Tebow through the minor league system in-spite of whatever future struggles he has at the dish and in the field, it will be at the chagrin of the franchise, any minor leaguer more deserving of promotion, and Tebow himself.

For the health of the franchise, it behooves the Mets to give their true prospects a shot at the big leagues, rather than call up Tebow’s in what would amount to a publicity stunt.

And, remember, it was Sandy Alderson who admitted that Tebow presence in the Mets organization was all about exposure.

"Look, we signed him because he is a good guy, partly because of his celebrity, partly because this is an entertainment business. My attitude is, 'Why not?'"

Those were Alderson’s words on July 2, and with each day that Tebow plays well and draws more and more media attention, those words will keep coming back to haunt Alderson. Why? Because nobody will let Tebow mania go away. 

Just weeks after admitting Tebow’s signing was for publicity, Alderson has had to answer questions about a forthcoming promotion. Alderson said he doesn’t “foresee” such a scenario. He will be held to that statement because the talk won’t stop.

Telling the media and the Tebow cult to let it go is like telling someone to quit smoking. They don’t do it easily.  In the NFL, Tebow-mania became so big that even the Denver Broncos and New York Jets couldn’t control it. 

Aside from having a shot at Payton Manning, there was a reason why John Elway couldn’t wait to get rid of Tebow. Elway knew that in spite of the cult following and one playoff win versus Pittsburgh, Tebow was not going to take Denver to the Super Bowl. 

There is also a reason why Rex Ryan refused to start Tebow when he was the Jets back-up quarterback in 2012. Even though Mark Sanchez was struggling, Ryan knew there would be no turning back if Tebow started a game at quarterback. 

Sandy Alderson better have Elway and Ryan’s phone numbers on speed dial.

Yes, Tim Tebow is a good guy; he would be great in the clubhouse. But come September, if he is called up, manager Terry Collins will have to play him, even if he is making blooper highlights in the outfield. And when he sits, Tebow, Collins will have to talk about that, too.  Not needed. The Mets should focus on the future of the franchise.



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Yankees Acquire Fraizer and Robertson From White Sox

The Yankees made a move they had to make. At 48-44 the Yankees are 3.5 out of first place, and hold a 1.5 game lead on the Minnesota Twins for the last wild card slot. So if the Yankees want to have any shot at getting to the postseason this year, they had to make this move.

On Tuesday night, the Yankees acquired third baseman Todd Fraizer and relievers David Robertson Tommy Kahnle from the Chicago White Sox for reliever Tyler Clippard, 2016 first round pick Blake Rutherford, and minor leaguers Ian Clarkin and Tito Polo.

For the Yankees this move makes all the sense in the world. They are re-united with Roberston, who was the teams closer back in 2014 when he saved 39 games. He has spent the past two-and-a-half years as the White Sox closer. What makes this deal even better, is the Yankees have control of Robertson through next season at $ 13 million. He is going to slide nicely into that seventh inning role as the bridge to Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. So far this year, Robertson has been great, pitching to a 2.70 ERA and a WHIP of 0.90.

Considering how Clippard really struggled in that role this season, bringing back Robertson gives the Yankees a back-end of the bullpen that mirrors that of the Cleveland Indians last season. Time will tell.

And don't fall asleep on Kahnle who is 1-3 with a 2.70 ERA in 37 appearances out of the Chi-Sox bullpen. Not to mention he is only 27 years old, which is a huge plus.

Finally the intriguing piece of this trade is Fraizer. A New Jersey kid, and a pending free agent. He is set to make $12 million this year. There has always been talk that Fraizer would one day play in New York because of his Jersey roots, and now that will happen. He is expected to see a lot of third and first base as needed, and platoon with Chase Headley.

While Fraizer has a history as a power bat, he has struggled this year, hitting only .207 in 280 at bats this year. Fraizer's 16 home runs and 44 RBI this year is on pace for career lows. Still this is a guy who hit 40 bombs just a year ago. While the Yankees would like to see the batting and on base percentage go up with Fraizer, if he has a solid second half, one could see the Yankees wanting to keep him beyond this year.

Either way, this was a move the Yankees had to make, and it was a good one.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Open Mike Program: Red Sox, Yankees Open Second Half

On this episode of the Open Mike Program, I am joined by 27 Outs Baseball broadcaster and editor, Chris Hogan as we talk about the keys to the second half of the baseball season.

Our focus is primarily on this weekend's series between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, and Boston is off to a good start with last night's 5-4 win.

We look at the strengths and weaknesses of both, and what their respective front offices should look for come the trade deadline.

Enjoy the show!


Friday, July 7, 2017

Mike Francesa claims he pushed Mets to land Mike Piazza

As Tommy DeVito pointed out in Jersey Boys, “Everybody remembers it in the way they need to.”

That is the only way to describe Mike Francesca’s stunning claim that he and former WFAN colleague Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo are the reason the Mets swung a deal with the Florida Marlins to get Mike Piazza to New York.


In the most recent clip published by Sirius XM Sports, world-renowned actor, and long-time WFAN caller, Chaz Palminteri, interviews Mike and the Mad Dog, and brings up Piazza’s trade to New York in 1998.

Mike pontificates that if it weren’t for them the Mets never would have swung a deal for Piazza.

He claims that Piazza’s agent called the WFAN office and told the radio duo that Piazza was heading to the Cubs, but really wanted to play in New York. They wanted Mike and Chris to assure a detour to the Big Apple.

“I said we can relay the message. Steve Phillips comes on our show and says under no circumstances are we interested in Mike Piazza. … After he leaves Dog and I got on a tangent. (Shea Stadium) is empty. I drove by the stadium there were only 13,000 people inside. These idiots won’t fill the stadium … .” Francesca claims.

Even Russo is seen just sitting there, listening to Mike's tangent. 



This is not a new story.  Mike and the Mad Dog have thrown that claim out there before, and were taken to task by Daily News writerBob Rassman, who quoted former Mets General Manager Steve Phillips, vehemently denying the claims.

While Mike and the Mad Dog had a huge impact on the New York sports scene and can take credit for putting pressure on many of the cities top stars, while creating the sports debate that we all enjoy on a daily basis; the very idea they were the reason Piazza came to the Mets is dubious at best.

There is no way in the world that Steve Phillips would confide in two sports-talk radio hosts that he is trying to work out a deal that hadn’t been completed. Such a move would be considered tampering.

It is also unlikely that Mets co-owners Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon would turn on the radio, hear Mike and Chris rant that the Mets should get Piazza, and think, ‘Hey, they’re right, let’s do it.’

It wouldn’t happen, not when there were too many variables involved. Keep in mind Dave Dombroski, who is now known as one of baseball’s top executives for his work with the Tigers and Red Sox, was the Marlins GM at the time. He didn’t have to send Piazza within the division, and he certainly didn’t care what ‘Mike and the Mad Dog’ thought. All he cared about was the compensation.  

At the time, the Mets were trying to build a winner, and they knew (without outside help) that a player like Piazza would help get them over the top.  Such a move came with great risk. Piazza was scheduled to be a free agent; there was no guarantee he would even stay beyond the 1998 season. The Mets were also sending Preston Wilson, the son of beloved former Met Mookie Wilson, to the Marlins. To say that it was an easy move is not fair.


And to say that it took Mike and the Mad Dog to make sure it happened is not fair at all to the men who actually did make it happen in the Mets and Marlins front offices.  

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Mets GM Sandy Alderson Admits Tebow is all P.R.

It would figure that on anniversary of Bobby Bonilla's ridiculous deferred money contract with the New York Mets, a story would come out that could put Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson squarely on the hot seat.

Earlier this week the Mets promoted Tim Tebow from Class-A Charleston to High-A St. Lucie after hitting a measly .222. Alderson even admitted that Tebow wasn't exactly "tearing up the league," at the time of the promotion.

We knew all along that the Tebow's stay with Mets has been a ruse, a public relations stunt meant only to sell tickets and jerseys. That was it.

On Friday, Alderson admitted it, in a series of statements that were first published in Newsday, and later on CBS.com.

"The guy we sent to see him in California did not exactly send back a glowing report. I knew immediately he would not want his name as the signing scout. Ultimately, the guy we put down was the Director of Merchandising.

"Look we signed him because he's a good guy, partly because of his celebrity, partly because this is the entertainment business. My attitude was 'why not?'" 

Remember the scene in "Spaceballs" when Mel Brooks' Yogurt was talking about "merchandising, merchandising, merchandising." I guess Sandy Alderson is the Mets' Yogurt. Maybe we'll get Tim Tebow the Lunch Box and Tim Tebow the Flame Thrower mixed in?

If this was Alderson's way of cracking a joke about the situation, it falls flat and makes him and the Mets front office look small. The Mets focus should be about finding the best young talent available to sign to minor league contracts, and move those players up through the system.

While Tebow doesn't systematically destroy that dichotomy, he isn't helping it either. The Mets have players down on Class-A Charleston who were more deserving of a promotion than Tebow. And if New York decides to move Tebow up even higher this season, it will be at the chagrin of another young guy down in St. Lucie.

It doesn't matter that Tebow homered in his first game with the St. Lucie Mets. Overall, he is still hitting around .231 in the minors. He should have been released a long time ago, but the Mets and Alderson continue to prop the man up in order to sell as many tickets as possible.

I feel bad for the kids down on the farm. I feel bad for the coaches who have to play Tebow. And I feel bad for Tebow himself, who has become a mascot.

Alderson and the Mets should stay focused on turning things around at the major league level, because stuff like this should drive the fans nuts.

Bartolo Colon Reunion with Mets?

At 44-years old, Bartolo Colon is on the open market once again. The burley right-hander was released by the Atlanta Braves on Friday after a hideous start to the season. His numbers read as follows: 2-8, with an ERA of 8.14, 11 home runs allowed, 57 earned runs allowed in 63 innings.

Still the New York Mets are said to be "considering" reuniting with Colon inspite of it all. Make no mistake for three years, Colon was one of the Mets' most dependable starters. Even in times where they were watching the like of Matt Harvey and Steven Matz drop out of the rotation with one injury after another, Colon was the one guy Terry Collins could rely on. Last season alone, Colon was 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA at age 43.

He even uncorked his first and only career home run in San Diego last summer.

So a reunion has to happen, right?

There is reason to believe the Mets are considering it. According to the Daily News, a Mets "source" said "'Get him back here and working with Dan Wharthen and see where he's at. It couldn't hurt to try him in the bullpen. It's not like we'd be upsetting anything.'"

Not sure who these Mets sources are, but that is a true condemnation of the entire bullpen if this is a true statement.

Colon was very important to the Mets the past three years, not only on the mound but as a mentor to the young players in the clubhouse. His presence in the clubhouse would be a welcome sight to the players.

But it's time for Colon and the Mets to realize that his playing career is likely over. A startling ERA and clear drop in mechanics at age 44 should signal that it is time for Big Bart to hang 'em up.  Not to mention, the Mets true focus should be on getting younger, and actually improving the bullpen with guys that can help this team this season and beyond. Colon does not offer that potential.

At 37-42 the Mets are in a position where they must determine by the All-Star Break whether they are going to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, and if all reports are true, they are leaning toward selling.  By doing so, the Mets are giving up on this season. Adding Colon to the bullpen now would be counterproductive to that strategy.

This does not mean that Colon can't help the Mets now and in the future. The players love Colon. The Mets could and should sign Colon to a one-day contract so he can retire a Met. Then, they can go ahead and make him an ambassador to the team to work with the young guys as they come up to majors; or maybe they can send him to Brooklyn to help Edgardo Alfonzo work with the kids. Then come 2018, the Mets could add Colon to the coaching staff of the major league roster.

A Bartolo Colon reunion with the Mets? Sure. But, not as a pitcher.

Friday, June 23, 2017

London Calling: President Trump Nominates Jets Owner as Ambassador

The inevitable is about to become a reality. Jets owner Woody Johnson is heading to England to become to United State Ambassador to the United Kingdom, after President Donald Trump nominated him this week.

 If the U.S. Senate approves Johnson's appointment, than the Jets will be left in the hands of Johnson's brother, Chris. Oh by the way, Johnson's appointment will be for three years, and he will have to live in England. While some cynical Jets fans might be happy that Woody might be leaving, he will remain the principal owner of the team.

Such an appointment is not unusual, since late Steelers owner Dan Rooney was the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland under President Obama. Keep in mind that was the Steelers -- one of the best run organizations in sports. This is the Jets.

It will be even more fascinating to see how Chris Johnson, who has no football experience, runs the franchise during the most critical point in its history. The team is visibly trying to tank the season in order to improve its draft status for 2018. There is also questions about the job security of both head coach Todd Bowles and GM Mike Maccagnan. If the Jets are 3-13 or worse, many think both will be fired. But, will that happen, considering 1) that Woody Johnson won't be around much? And 2) the team is not planning to do anything this year anyway?

And should the Jets part ways with either Bowles, Maccagnan or both, who will be in charge of finding their replacements?

All these questions are now on the table for the New York Jets in 2017.