Monday, July 31, 2017

Yankees Get their Ace in Sonny Gray

The Yankees consistent pursuit of Sonny Gray has finally paid off. The Bronx Bombers were able to acquire Gray from the Oakland A's for minor leaguers Jorge Mateo, James Kaprielian and Dustin Fowler.

This is a huge deal for the Yankees, who have been pretty busy here at the deadline as they are clearly going for a world championship after a tremendous start to the season. What makes this deal even better for the Yankees is that they will have Gray under their control for two more seasons, and he is not a free agent until 2020.

As for the prospects, much had been made about the compensation going back to Oakland. At one point the A's wanted Gleyber Torres and Clint Fraizer in the deal, but the Yankees would not budge. Instead, the A's get three of the Yankees top nine prospects in their farm system. It may seem like a lot to give up, but this is the Yankees we are talking about.

If the Yankees have any hopes of competing with the Indians, Red Sox, Royals and Astros this October, they needed to make a big move and this was it.

The Yankees rotation has been their biggest weakness all season, and in a matter of hours they have improved it with the addition of not only Gray, but Jamie Garcia as well.

Gray will slide into that number one position in the Yankees rotation, with Mashairo Tanaka and CC Sabathia behind him. Jamie Garcia is a reliable fourth starter. With Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino still in the mix, New York now features a six-man rotation. Not bad at all for a team that ranks sixth in the league in team ERA.

The Yankees had inquired about Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish, but Gray was the man that Brian Cashman wanted all along.

At this moment it is not known when Gray will get his first Yankees start, since he was scheduled to start for Oakland yesterday, before they pulled him pending this trade. Chance are he'll likely make his Yankees debut this week against the Tigers.

Mets Finalize Deal, Send Reed to Boston

Addison Reed is now officially a member of the Boston Red Sox.

The Mets finalized a deal with Boston to send their interim closer to Boston while receiving three prospects in return. The prospects are Jamie Callahan (Triple-A), Greson Bautista (Single-A) and Stephen Nogosek (Single-A). Callahan is 5-2 with a 3.21 ERA in 32 games out of the bullpen, combined between Triple-A and Double-A.

No telling what kind of impact if any Callahan will have on the Mets, but if he pitches well, we'll probably see him in September.

As for Reed he was a serviceable reliever for the Mets for the past two years. The Mets acquired him in 2015 to help them get to the postseason in 2015, and he was a solid presence back there since day 1. This year, he became the team's closer because of the number of issues surrounding Jeurys Familia. He will be a welcome addition to Boston's bullpen, and will likely be the set-up man to Craig Kimbrel.

Reed will be a free agent in the off-season, so a return to the Mets is always a possibility. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Mets Trade of Addison Reed Could Still Happen

The New York Mets are still looking for a suitor for reliever Addison Reed, who is set to be a free agent at the end of the year.

Reed has been the Mets closer for much of the season due to a suspension and injury to Jeurys Familia, and to be honest, he has been mighty impressive. Reed has been one of the Mets most reliable relievers, and one of the best in baseball to date. Through 48 games this season, Reed owns 19 saves and 2.57 ERA. He also has a BB/K ratio of 9-48.

Not bad at all.

There are rumors now that suitors for Reed could come down to five teams, and according to Buster Olney on Twitter the Red Sox could be one of them.

Boston has been looking to upgrade the backend of its bullpen leading up to closer Craig Kimbrel. Reed would do just that. Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Fernando Abad and Robby Scott have all had their ups and downs this year, but one thing those guys don't have that Reed does is postseason experience.

The question will be compensation going back to New York. We'll see how this works out. Don't be shocked if Houston or Kansas City are dark horses in this race for Reed.

Reed's value only went up after Sandy Alderson took A.J. Ramos off the market when he acquired him from the Marlins. It was a good move by the Mets, who didn't have to give up much in prospects, and will have control of Ramos through the 2018 season.

Ramos had 20 saves in 40 games with the Marlins this season, and owns 92 career saves. He will slide into that closer role for the rest of this season, should the Mets in fact deal Reed. If not, then New York will have two solid options to use for the final two months of the season. Ramos will most likely compete with Familia for the closer's role next spring, with the loser likely to get the eighth inning.

Yankees Add Another Pitcher, But it's Not Sonny Gray

The Yankees remain busy as the MLB trade deadline nears its conclusion tomorrow afternoon. Amid rumors that the Bombers were still in negotiations with the Oakland A's about acquiring starter Sonny Gray, the Yankees veered left and swung a deal on Sunday with the Twins for Jaime Garcia.

While Garcia may not be the sexy name that most Yankee fans were looking for, he does bring a great resume with him to the Bronx.

In addition to winning 67 games and post a 3.65 ERA over the course of his career that dates back to 2008 with the St. Louis Cardinals, he has a good reputation as a solid postseason starter. In 2011, he helped lead the Cardinals to a World Series title, recording 21 strikeouts over 25 innings, and posting an ERA of 4.21.

HIs best seasons as a Cardinal came in his final two years with the squad in 2015 and 2016.  In 2015, Garcia started 20 games and posted a record of 10-6 with a 2.43 ERA. Last season, he recorded 150 strikeouts over 171 innings pitched.

The Yankees will be Garcia's third team in a week. Last week he was dealt from the Atlanta Braves to the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees didn't give up much, trading away minor league prospects Zach Littell and Dietrich Enns.

Garcia will slide right into a Yankees rotation that is in desperate need of a starter. Mashairo Tanaka has been woefully inconsistent all year, and the Yankees have already lost Michael Pineda for the season. CC Sabathia has had his own health issues as well this year.

The question is are the Yankees done? New York has been trying to swing a deal with Oakland to get Sonny Gray, but neither side has come to a deal. The A's have asked for top prospects Clint Fraizer and Gleyber Torres in return, which is too expensive for the Yankees.

Yet, the A's seem steadfast that they want to trade their ace, even skipping his rotation spot on Sunday. Then again this is Billy Beane we are talking about where the unpredictable is always the norm.

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, 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

"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.