Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Colorado Rockies Podcast

The Colorado Rockies are 29-17, the best record in the National League on May 23. The Rockies have been led by superior relief pitching, a solid young starting rotation, and of course a lethal offense. Can the Rockies keep it going? I talk to special guest, Bryan Kilpatrick of SB Nation's Purple Row to get his take on the NL West leader.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Open Mike Program: Harvey Suspension and More

Tonight on Open Mike I reviewed a wild week in baseball. I open up with the Matt Harvey suspension, the Jeurys Familia injury and Derek Jeter's jersey number retirement. Enjoy the program right here!!

Derek Jeter to have No. 2 Retired

Derek Jeter will make his way back to Yankee Stadium this weekend to have his iconic number 2 officially retired.

While the jersey has been pretty much accepted as retired since Jeter's final game in pinstripes in 2014, now the Bronx Bombers can make it official.

Jeter was the embodiment of New York. Tough, gritty, never-giving up. That was Jeter in a nutshell. Not to mention, he was the City's ultimate winner. A champion of five World Series titles, and seven World Series appearances, Jeter's Yankees have gone down in history as one of the greatest dynasty's in baseball history.

Yankee fans will forever remember Jeter for his clutch play at the plate -- the big hits in the big moments, from the home run against the Orioles in the '96 playoffs, to his walk-off homer in Game 3 of the 2001 World Series against Arizona. To his homers against the Mets in the 2000 World Series, and of course his walk-off winner in his final at bat at Yankee Stadium. There were also the defensive gems, most notably his back-handed flip to Jorge Posada at home plate to nail Jeremy Giambi, in the 2001 ALDS against the Oakland A's.

Let's look back.

Familia Latest Met to Hit DL with Blood Clot

Mets closer Jeurys Familia is going to be out for a while. How long is anyone's guess right now, after word came down Thursday that Familia has been diagnosed with an arterial clot in his right shoulder.

The prognosis for such an injury usually isn't good. A couple years ago when Dillion Gee was pitching for the Mets, he suffered a blood clot in his shoulder and would miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery. Last season, Matt Harvey had a thoracic outlet syndrome, and required surgery in July and missed the remainder of the season.

According to Dr. Todd Breland, while speaking to the New York Post, it is likely that Familia has thoracic Outlet Syndrome. AKA it doesn't look good for the Mets closer.

Familia has had a rough year. He was suspended the first 15 games of the season for his involvement in a domestic abuse case, which involved the closer firing a gun in his own garage. Since returning, Familia has been inconsistent at best. He's struggled with walks, but has only given up four earned runs in nine-plus innings, and there is reason to believe he suffered the injury on Wednesday afternoon when he blew a 3-2 lead against the Giants, a game the Mets lost 6-5.

With Familia likely out for the longterm, the Mets find themselves in dire need of a closer. The Mets could tap Addison Reed for the job, since he was the closer the first two weeks of the year. He has been great in the BB-K department, walking none, while striking out 22. Yet, he is a guy who probably best suited for the eighth inning roll. Hansel Robles and Jerry Blevins have both had fine starts to their seasons, but neither is a trustworthy candidate for the job.

The Mets have no choice but to improve a bullpen that needed an upgrade anyway. Names like David Robertson, Nate Jones and Kelvin Herrera are names that are starting to float around as possible trade pieces for the Mets. Robertson has five saves and a 2.31 ERA for the White Sox this season. But, the White Sox have yet to fall out of it -- they probably won't want to trade him, at least right now.

31-year old Nate Jones, is one of Robertson's teammates on the White Sox. He has also had a fine year as a middle reliever, but again, until the White Sox fall out of it, its hard to see Chicago wanting to make any deals at this point.

Herrera might be interesting. He is closing right now for the Kansas City Royals and owns five saves. The Mets might be able to get him, since Kansas City is having a horrific season, but the pitching starved Royals will want a lot of young pitchers in return, and considering all the Mets injuries, I'm not sure if KC views the Mets as a good system to pick off from.

So Sandy Alderson has his work cut out for him. He needs a reliever, (maybe two) to truly solidify this pitching staff on the back end. Will he do it is the only question. The Mets are notorious under Alderson for not making deals in-season. Before any deal is complete look for the Mets to try to fill the void of Familia in house.

After Mea Culpa, Harvey to Start vs. Brew Crew

Matt Harvey tried to deliver a mea cupla to the Mets fanbase, his teammates and coaches on Tuesday in an effort to show that he will work on improving his image. In a rather restrained eight minute press conference, Harvey pinned the blame on himself. He owned up to partying late on Friday night into Saturday morning, and golfing later that day before deciding not to head to work that night.

In the eight minute press conference that at times felt more like a tooth extraction than a sincere apology,  Harvey said the word 'apologize' 12 times,' embarrassed' four times, and repeatedly said that he won't put himself in a position to hurt his team again.  We'll see.

As far as the grievance against the Mets, Harvey said he was not thinking about filing any paperwork against the Mets for penalizing him $85,000 for the three days he was out. Again, we'll see.

The fact, is the Mets and Harvey are destined for a break-up between now and the end of the 2018 season. This will be the story of the off-season and next year, when the Mets will certainly look to ship Harvey, his bad attitude and his agent Scott Boras, out of town.

Until that time it is important for Harvey to go out and prove that he still has something left in the tank. There has been a lot of questions about whether Harvey still has a desire to play the game, especially in light of last weekend's story. The world will be focused in tonight in Milwaukee when Harvey is on the hill against the Brewers for the first time since that incident. The Brewers are a mediocre 18-17, but first baseman Eric Thames has been killing it with 13 homers and 25 RBI through 31 games. It has also been a quiet reinsance year for Ryan Braun, (.287, 7 HR, 18 RBI). Make no mistake, the Brewers might be average, but they are better than the Mets right now.

This will be a tough test. For Harvey, who comes into this game with an ERA of 5.14, he needs to be at his very best. This was a guy who built a reputation early in his career as a big game pitcher and bulldog. The Mets need to see that Harvey tonight. With his back against the wall, a brilliant effort tonight by the Mets righty will be the best apology he can offer. Anything less will just get entice the media sharks to attack.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mets' Matt Harvey is Now Broadway Schmo

Here is my article on Matt Harvey that also appeared in Mets on Scout.

Matt Harvey always wanted to be considered the Dark Knight of New York. The man who would be the face and ace of the pitching staff of the New York Mets, would collect multiple All-Star games, championships, Cy Young Awards, and millions of dollars. After a stellar first year in 2013, Harvey seemed destined for stardom.

But now, on this day in May of 2017, Matt Harvey is no longer the Dark Knight. He’s not the “Broadway Joe” of baseball. He’s simply “Broadway Schmo.”

Beginning Sunday, the Mets suspended Harvey three games for violating team policy. In spite of early rumors that the suspension may have had something to do with a locker room prank, it was rather Harvey’s own insubordination.

According to multiple sources, Harvey was out golfing Saturday, suffered a migraine headache and decided not to show up at Citi Field. When he returned to Citi Field Sunday, the Mets finally put him in his place by suspending him without pay.

The Mets had enough with Harvey and his antics, and who can blame them?

The history of bad feeling between two parties reaches back years.  Remember when Harvey refused to heed Sandy Alderson’s word not to come back too soon after recovering from Tommy John Surgery?  Or the time when Harvey’s agent, Scott Boros, challenged the Mets on his pitcher’s innings limit?

But being late to the ballpark is nothing new for Harvey. In 2015, he skipped out on a Mets practice before the start of the NL Division series against the Dodgers. The Mets tried to let it pass.

Then during the World Series, he pushed Terry Collins into leaving him in far too long against the Royals in Game 5. Harvey imploded in the ninth inning, blew a 2-0 lead, and the Mets watched the Royals celebrate a world championship.

Now there is this! Harvey didn’t merely disobey his manager and general manager; he let his team down. Without Harvey, the Mets had no choice but to call up Adam Wilk who just got off a plane from Triple-A, Las Vegas. The result was a 7-0 defeat to Miami.

In a baseball locker room, each player has a responsibility to his teammates. That is the bond created over months and years playing together. But, Harvey’s antics leave one to question Harvey’s passion for the game and his teammates.

His migraine excuse from a golf outing is dubious at best. There is likely more to that story, but only one person knows the truth.  

What Harvey fails to understand is his career has arrived at a crossroads. He is not the Dark Knight any longer, not when he is 6-12 with a 4.93 ERA over the last two seasons combined.  Certainly not when he has a 5.14 ERA coming into his scheduled start on Sunday.  The Mets have no reason to allow Harvey walk all over them as he has in the past.

For that reason, the Mets and Harvey move almost certain toward a break-up. The only question is when? Harvey’s has a contract runs through the 2018 season; you can bet the Mets will try to trade him well before then in order to acquire some players in return. The Mets will not let Harvey walk away as a free agent. The problem is who is going to want him now?

Nobody wants a 29-year old angry, pompous pitcher, who was once really good. Yet his bad performances the last two years, the injuries, and his behavior have taken a machete to Harvey’s trade value. So for those fans thinking the Mets could trade him come July 31, fergedaboutit!

The Mets have to hope that Harvey returns after this suspension humbled, (fat chance) and starts emulating the pitcher he once was (fat chance redux). If he gives the Mets 13 or14 wins and lowers his ERA near 3, maybe, just maybe, Harvey will increase his value enough for the Mets to ship him out of town come the GM Meetings before Christmas.

Ridding themselves of Harvey in the off-season will allow Sandy Alderson to invest in long term deals with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, and permits this team to find a right-handed batter with pop, if they don’t find one in the middle of the season.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Yankees vs. Cubs Sport Talk Radio

Couldn't have picked a better day to do Open Mike today. With the Yankees 3-2 comeback win against the Chicago Cubs, I spent the show talking about the game, and the Cubs season thus far with Robert Villarreal. Check it out!! 

Gardner Goes Boom! Homer in 9th Lifts Yankees over Cubs


If Friday afternoon was any indication of what is in store for the rest of this Yankees-Cubs series, sign me up. The Yankees were down to their final strike, trailing the defending World Series Champion Cubs 2-0 before Brett Gardner launched a 2-2 pitch from Hector Rondon over the the right field wall for a 3-run homer.

All of a sudden a certain Cubs victory was ripped from their hands by a Yankee team that doesn't fear failure. When Gardner hit the homer, a sense of jubilation sprung out of him that we have rarely see from the typically reserved outfielder. He jumped into the air and high-fived his teammates when he stepped on homeplate and was seen yelling back at the Cubs dugout.

There was a reason for this sense of anger and joy.

An inning earlier the Cubs planted the seeds of their own demise when Pedro Strop acted like he won the World Series after striking out Aaron Judge to end the top of the eighth with an emphatic fist pump. Judge gave Strop a long stare on his way back to the dugout, and one had to know that Strop's actions lifted the Yankees spirits even higher.

The Yankees, who came into this three-game series as heavy underdogs, were not going to be denied of pursuing a historic upset.

Before the 9th inning fireworks, this game was as well played defensively as any game this season around Major League Baseball. There was the great diving catch made by Cubs right fielder Jason Hayward when he scooped up a Sterlin Castro line drive and doubled-up Aaron Hicks on second base to get the Cubs out of the first inning.

There was even the play at the plate on Castro when he never slid toward home, instead crashing into Contreras down the third base line for the final out of the sixth. It was base-running mistakes that could have cost the Yankees, but fortunately for them it didn't.

There was the gutty effort by Yankees starter Michael Pineda, who battled around an error by Judge that allowed Wilson Contreras to reach all the way to third base with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Pineda reared back and got ground ball outs from Kyle Hendricks and Jon Jay to get out of the jam. That inning in of itself proved to be deadly for Chicago later on. Had the Cubs found a way to bring in Contreras, they would have carried a 3-0 lead into the ninth, and presumably Gardner does not win it for the Bronx Bombers.

Overall, Pineda was solid. He gave the Yankees exactly what they were looking for, six innings, allowing two runs on three hits with six strikeouts. The only runs to score on Pineda were homers by Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber. That was it.

On the flip-side, Kyle Hendricks was equally good for Chicago. He held the Yankees to six hits over five and a third innings, as New York just couldn't figure him out. In fact the entire Yankee offense looked dazed and confused out there again Chicago bullpen before Rondon entered the picture.

In an ironic twist of fate, while the Cubs watch Rondon melt under pressure in the ninth, it was their old closer, Aroldis Chapman who came in after Gardner's homer and shut the door on the South Siders with a pair of strikeouts to get his seventh save of the year.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mets Get Destroyed 23-5, Syndergaard Out

When the Mets opened Spring Training, Noah Syndergaard looked like a changed man. The once tall-lanky pitcher was now living up to his nickname “Thor” when he checked in at 242 pounds, having added 17 pounds of muscle during the off-season.

When asked by reporters what he did differently last off-season, Syndergaard said he bulked up by eating a “bowl of doom.”

Two-and-a half months later, Syndergaard has served up a “bowl of doom” for the Mets when he left Sunday’s 23-5 smack-down at the hands of the Washington Nationals, clutching his side after a pitch in the bottom of the second inning. When Syndergaard grabbed the right side of his chest, underneath his shoulder in obvious pain, there was no question he was done for the day.

What’s most disturbing is the injury comes just days after he refused to have an MRI done after he felt discomfort in his biceps muscle on Thursday that led to Matt Harvey making the spot start.

Now, Syndergaard will have an MRI today to determine the severity of the injury. While “Thor” won’t get banished to Planet Hulk, he is likely heading for some form of a disabled list stint. How long that stint will be will be determined upon the severity of the injury.

When asked about the MRI rebuff, Syndergaard last week said he knew his “body best.” And while Sandy Alderson said it was unusual for a player to refuse such a procedure, the Mets weren’t going to force Syndergaard to take the test. Now he may very well have jeopardized both his season and the Mets’ by one poor decision.

The fact that Syndergaard gained all that weight in order to “throw harder” will haunt the right-hander if he is on the DL for a long time.

Pitchers are delicate people. Even the Mets know that, considering the kid gloves approach they took on innings limits on their Syndergaard, Havey and Jacob deGrom in years past. 

When it comes to a pitcher, it should be simple, the focus should always been on long-term health, not power. Syndergaard failed to grasp that because he bought into the pressure of modern day baseball where people pay way too much attention to velocity and not enough time on the art of craft.

Bottom line is flexibility in their arm is important. The tendons, muscles and ligaments that make up the pitcher’s arm need to be able to perform properly and without added stress. If anything changes in that make-up an injury can happen.

When he checked into Spring Training, you almost got the sense that the Mets were surprised how much he bulked up. Syndergaard insisted he would be fine and would be stronger than ever. The Mets went with it.

Here lay the biggest problem for the Mets: lack of communication.

The Mets failed to communicate with Syndgeraard in the off-season when it came to his workouts. And they clearly are failing to communicate with him now.

Lack of communication isn’t new to the Mets this season. They should have disabled Yoenis Cespedes after his initial hamstring injury, but refused to disable him, and played him anyway. Now he’s on the disabled list with a worse injury to the muscle.

The same day Cespedes went down was also the same game Syndergaard skipped his start because of the biceps injury. The Mets instead started Harvey who gave up six runs on the afternoon. When asked after the game if the “Dark Knight” was ready to go, Mets Manager Terry Collins said ‘yes’ he was. When Harvey was asked about it, he admitted he wasn’t prepared.

The Mets biggest issue isn’t just hitting with runners in scoring position. It isn’t just the injuries. It isn’t turning the season around and catching the Wild Card.

The biggest issue facing the Mets is their inability to diagnose these injuries properly and communicate effectively with their players. For that reason, and that reason alone, the responsibility of Syndergaard’s injury falls on Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins. If this keeps up, they’ll pay dearly.

A look at the New York Giants 2017 Draft

The Giants came into the draft needing to address a number of needs from tight end to offensive line, running back, and even back-up quarterback. While New York didn't address perhaps the biggest needs on this team which were the offensive line and running game, they did add a pass catching tight end in Evan Engram.

Engram is big and physical. Last year he hauled in 65 passes for 928 yards and eight touchdowns for Ole Miss, which was by far his best season at the school. Still though he averaged around 14 yards a catch, which tells you that he is a vertical threat. The one weakness with Engram is that he is not a great blocker, an issue that all these pass catching tight ends struggle with. Regardless he will give Eli Manning another option to throw to, as if Manning doesn't have enough receivers.

The drafting of Dalvin Tomlinson is an interesting pick, a defensive lineman from Alabama, because it is a pick that is more about adding depth than about adding a guaranteed starter. The Giants are well versed in adding as much depth as possible to their defensive front. They have done it for years, especially under Jerry Reese.

Tomlinson is said to have a very high motor, and is considered NFL ready. He did have ACL injuries early in his career, but had his best season his senior year at 'Bama. He will likely slid in behind Damion Harrison, and with the Giants other top pass rushers, there is no pressure here on Tomlinson to explode out of the gate -- although it would help.

The most curious drafting was in the third round when Big Blue selected Cal quarterback Davis Webb. Webb was considered by some scouts to be one of the more talented quarterbacks in this draft when it came to arm strength, but this is a guy who spent much of his college career as a back-up. He didn't really get a chance to start until he transferred to Cal after jared Goff left. A lot of Giants fans jumped on Twitter proclaiming that their team found Eli Manning's replacement.

 Let's take it easy. Unless Manning retires in the next year, or gets into more trouble over the memorabilia scam that he ends of suspended by the NFL, or even worse, there is really no chance this kid is ever going to see the field in a regular season game. Like Jared Lorenzen and Ryan Nassib before him, Webb will spend much of his time with Big Blue holding a clipboard.

The eventual successor to Eli Manning is not anywhere near this team right now.

Overal Grade: C- . The Giants added a pass catching tight end, which is nice, but they really needed to address the offensive line in this draft, which they didn't do until the sixth round.

A look at the NY Jets 2017 Draft

The 2017 NFL draft is in the books, and the handwringing that came with what the Jets would do has gone by the wayside. Many had expected (even feared) that the Jets would use one of their draft picks on a quarterback, namely their first round selection.

Fortunately for the Jets, the Chicago Bears decided to jump on the dynamite and traded up one slot to select North Carolina enigma Mitchell Trubisky with the Number Two pick in the draft. One can imagine the kind of hit they Bears have taken on Social Media.

As for New York, they played it safe in a lot of respects, and filled out positions of need. That is really all one can ask of General Manager Mike Maccagnan. The Jets have what many consider to be one of the worst rosters in the National Football League. They have holes in the secondary, offensive line, running back, wide receiver, tight end, kicker, and, of course, quarterback; to be honest, they couldn't fill them all in this draft.

The drafting of Jamal Adams with the sixth pick was an absolute steal. Many people thought that Adams would be long gone before the Jets would be on the clock, but thanks to the Bears and Niners shuffling the deck, Adams dropped to the Jets at six.

This is a guy who many say has a high motor, gets after the football and has true leadership skills. If that holds true the Jets have themselves a very special player. The Jets secondary has been in tatters the past two seasons, and they lack a hard hitting safety. Adams give the Jets that hard hitting dimension they so desperately missed.

In the second round, New York addressed the safety position again when they selected Florida's Marcus Maye with the 39th pick. Maye had a great season in 2015 for the Gators when he had 82 tackles, two picks and six pass breakups. Last year he missed four games due to broken arm. So he is a bit of an enigma in that respect. Yet, he was a highly touted recruit when he went to Florida. The selection of Maye speaks to the Jets unhappiness with Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor. Neither player has really lived up to the expectations. Perhaps the selection of Maye is a shot across the bow at both players to pick it up this summer or else.

In the third round the Jets traded down nine spots with the Vikings. Minnesota wound up selecting Ohio State center Pat Elflen, while New York settled on wide receiver ArDarius Stewart. The Jets really could have used a center, or even an offensive lineman here, considering the position is so weak. Stewart could turn into something, but considering the Jets recent drafts at the wide receiver position (Devin Smith for example) let's wait and see how this turns out.

The rest of the draft was nothing but gambles by Maccagnan, he traded back four times, and collected a total of six picks in the fifth and sixth rounds. Tight end Jordan Leggett gives New York a needed pass catching tight end, but there were higher graded players at the position that they did miss out on. NFL.com also says Leggett is a guy who can be a lazy player, who needs to have his motor turned on. Not a great analysis. The Jets also selected two corners late in the draft. While that does address a need, the Jets could have drafted a top corner earlier. These two guys look like projects.

Overall Grade: C+. The Jets addressed a major concern, safety with the drafting of Adams and Maye. The rest of the draft is a crapshoot (as all drafts are). At least the Jets didn't draft a quarterback, which means they are trusting both Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg to figure it out this year and prove the Jets have the quarterback of the future on the roster already.