Arizona Fall League Dominance Shows Mickey Jannis Is Still A Prospect

Traditionally, the Arizona Fall League is reserved for the top Double-A and Triple-A prospects in each organization.  We’ve previously seen with players like David Wright and Mike Piazza having played in the Arizona Fall League.  We see it again this season with top prospects like Kyle Tucker (Astros), Ronald Acuna (Braves), and Francisco Mejia (Indians).

The list of players in the Arizona Fall League this year also includes 29 year old Mickey Jannis.

Typically speaking, when a prospect passes a certain age, they are no longer considered a prospect.  Depending on which standard you apply, that age is a moving date, but everyone will agree that 29 years old is too old to be considered a prospect.

Jannis is different than your typical prospect because he is a knuckleball pitcher, and for a number of reasons knuckleball pitchers have a tendency to develop later in their careers than most prospects.

There are few pitching coaches out there who are actually adept at teaching the pitch, and it is a difficult pitch to throw.  However, the main reason is probably due to it being seen as gimmick which pitchers do not seek to learn until their careers are almost at a premature end.  Jim Bouton described this process best in Ball Four:

After a couple of year in the minors, however, I started to get bigger and stronger and started to overpower people with my fastball.  So I phased the knuckleball out.

I never really used it again until 1967.  My arm was very sore and I was getting my head beat in.  [Ralph Houk] put me into a game against Baltimore and I didn’t have a thing except pain.  I got two out and then with my arm still hurting like hell, I threw four knuckeballs to Frank Robinson and struck him out.  The next day I get sent to Syracuse.  Even so, it wasn’t until the last part of the next season that I began throwing it again.  The idea that you’ve lost your regular stuff is very slow in coming.

That experience is typical to most knuckleballers.  In R.A. Dickey‘s own book, Wherever I Wind Up, he stated his process of learning the knuckleball began when the Rangers front office suggested it was his best chance of being able to have a Major League career.  That is an experience shared by Jannis:

It’s just a decision I made after I got released by the Rays after my second year in pro ball.  I went into independent baseball and just made the transition. It’s been a long process. I’m still learning to throw it, learning to throw it for strikes. It’s just every day learning something new with the pitch.

(William Boor, MLB.com)

In many ways, Jannis is still learning how to control the pitch, and as a result, he has had middling results.  He would go from a 3.55 ERA and 1.354 WHIP in 2015 to a 5.69 ERA and 1.564 WHIP in 2016.  This made his age 29 season an important one to improve his status as a prospect.  Based upon recent knuckleball pitchers age 29 season, there wasn’t much reason for hope:

  • Tim Wakefield (1996) 14-13, 5.14 ERA, 1.550 WHIP
  • Dickey (2004) 6-7, 5.61 ERA, 1.620 WHIP

Albeit in Double-A, Jannis had a much better age 29 season going 8-7 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.251 WHIP.  During the season, he’s come closer to taming the knuckleball leading to better success, a rejuvenation of his status as a prospect, and his assignment to the Arizona Fall League.

Jannis has taken full advantage of the opportunity by pitching great.  In his six starts, he was 1-3 with a 2.33 ERA and a 1.037 WHIP.  Overall, he’s showing he control his knuckeball, and he can get baseball’s top prospects out.  If he continues learning how to harness his knuckleball, he may very well get the chance to prove he can use it to get Major League batters out.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first published on MMO

Trivia Friday – Hall of Famers Who Played for Mets and Yankees

With Carlos Beltran retiring, the clock on his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame is a matter not of if but when.  When that day comes, Beltran will become just the third Hall of Famer who has played for both the Mets and the Yankees.  Can you name the other two?  Good Luck!


Yogi Berra Rickey Henderson

My Mike & Mike Story

In some ways, it is quite fitting that the Golic & Wingo era will begin on my son’s birthday because on the day my son was born my wife cursed Mike & Mike.

Due to an ice storm in our area, we went to the hospital earlier than the doctors recommended because we didn’t want my wife to deliver or child at home or in a parking lot somewhere.  When we got there, we were told that we could calm down and take a nap for a moment.

Hopped up on adrenaline, nervousness, and everything else a first time father experiences in that moment, there was zero chance I could sleep.  No matter how much I tried, it wasn’t happening.  A quarter to twelve quickly became 5:00 A.M.  At that point, the endless channel surfing turned into my turning on Mike & Mike.

I watched that for a few hours before it was go time.  Things became a blur, and I’m not sure how it happened, but the hospital remote control, complete with a speaker, was placed right by my wife’s head.

Well, during the delivery process, my wife looked up stunned and upset wanting to know why a baby was crying.  Everyone in the delivery room insisted that wasn’t the case.  But there it was again, a baby crying that only she could hear.

No, my wife wasn’t delusional from the stress and pain of the delivery process.  Rather, Mike Golic was pressing the baby crying sound from the board when referencing a particular player’s or team’s whining.  Honestly, I can’t even remember who was the whiner at the time.  All I do remember is the death glares I received from everyone in that delivery room.

Not too long after that, my wife delivered a happy and healthy little boy.  One that was delivered during the airing of Mike & Mike:

Despite my wife’s (understandable) anger in that moment, we would begin to watch Mike & Mike every morning because it was part of the greatest day of our lives.  Now, it’s gone, and we’re going to miss it.

Personally, I know I will have it in the back of my mind with a new son due to be born sometime next month.  In the event we are there early in the morning, I know that I will likely turn on Golic & Wingo.  However, now having Twitter, I will be sure to send a tweet to both of them requesting they not play the baby crying sound byte.  I don’t need another delivery room shooting daggers my way and a remote control go whizzing by my head.

Congratulations to Mike & Mike on a long run, and I look forward to making one or both of them a part of my morning going forward and sharing moments like these with my new son as well as my oldest.

Mets Hyping Big Time Names As Tickets Go On Sale

Earlier reports about the Mets (in)ability to spend have gone by the wayside with Sandy Alderson getting annoyed with the questions.  In its place, we have Sandy playing the role of Omar Minaya with the Mets being linked to key players this free agency:

  • The Mets want Carlos Santana because he’s a “difference maker.”
  • They have interest in Lorenzo Cain who could solve their OF issues. 
  • They’re monitoring the second base market, especially players like Dee Gordon and Jason Kipnis
  • They want to give Jacob deGrom a contract extension. 
  • Underperforming players like Dominic Smith will not be guaranteed anything, and in fact, will have to earn a role on the team. That is, if there is still a role left to earn. 
  • And the coup de grace, the Mets may enter the bidding for the Japanese Babe Ruth Shohei Otani

In addition to that, the likeable and infectious new Mets manager Mickey Callaway has been making the rounds. He’s talking about keeping players accountable, including but not limited to getting Yoenis Cespedes to drink water. 

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence this flurry of big ticket names and moves Mets fans have been clamoring for happened just as the team began selling single game tickets:

It’s also purely coincidental the Mets are making this push a season after attendance dropped, ticket prices rose, and the team lost 92 games. 

Given how the Mets have been operated post-Madoff, and given the timing of this news, color me skeptical.  Really, it was just days ago the Mets were talking Wily Peralta

I’m not falling for it, and I’m not rushing to go out and buy tickets. If the Mets truly want my business, and for me to go to more than a game or two, go get one of those aforementioned players. Better yet, get a couple of them and build a World Series contender. 

Beltran Wearing A Mets Cap On His Hall of Fame Plaque Isn’t a Guarantee

Now that Carlos Beltran has officially retired, the Hall of Fame discussions can now begin.  In the case of Beltran, one of the Top 10 centerfielders of all-time and the best Puerto Rican baseball player not named Roberto Clemente, the discussion for him is not whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame.  Rather, the discussion is what cap he will wear when he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame.

As we learned from Gary Carter, Beltran is not going to be able to just pick whatever hat he wants.  This means no Astros, despite him winning the World Series there, and no Cardinals, where he cemented his place in Cooperstown.  Unless the Hall of Fame invokes the Reggie Jackson, you can go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee regardless of tenure with them, Beltran is going to have three choices: (1) Royals; (2) Mets; or (3) Blank.

Under normal circumstances, the case for the Mets should be quite easy with him playing more games in a Mets uniform than with any other team.  Beltran had his best years in Queens posting 31.3 of his 69.8 career WAR with the team.  He won all of his Gold Gloves with the Mets, and five of his nine All Star appearances came as a member of the Mets.  Some of his greatest highlights (and lowlights) came with the Mets.  In many ways, his entire career is defined by what he did with the Mets.

With this being the Mets, this isn’t normal circumstances.  There are indications this was and continues to be a very strained relationship.

The biggest indication of this was the fight over Beltran’s 2010 knee surgery.  It created a he said – she said situation where Boras insisted the Mets were informed, and the Mets acted as if they were blindsided.  For younger fans, the perfect analogy to this was the hysteria surrounding Matt Harvey and his innings limits during the 2015 season.

Beltran had knee problems for two seasons, and when push came to shove, he had the surgery upon the recommendation of a world class knee surgeon.  The Mets position was Beltran needed to clear medical decisions through them.  As the New York Post reported, “the Mets are claiming this was done without clearance and that the Mets are threatening to take some form of action.”

Action never came, but the bad feelings persisted.  Much of that can be directly attributed to Fred Wilpon’s interview with the New Yorker:

At one point, I mentioned to Wilpon the theory that the Mets might be cursed. He gave a sort of half laugh, and said, “You mean”—and then pantomimed a checked swing of the bat.

********************************

When Carlos Beltran came up, I mentioned his prodigious post-season with the Astros in 2004, when he hit eight home runs, just before he went to the Mets as a free agent. Wilpon laughed, not happily. “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series,” he said, referring to himself. In the course of playing out his seven-year, $119-million contract with the Mets, Beltran, too, has been hobbled by injuries. “He’s sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was.”

Wilpon reportedly apologized, and Beltran being the man he was accepted said apology.

After that, the Mets did give him the perfunctory video montage his first game back at Citi Field.  However, that was about it from the team.

Immediately after being traded from the Mets, Beltran’s number 15 was immediately assigned to Val Pascucci, and it has been assigned to Fred Lewis, Travis d’ArnaudBob Geren, and Matt Reynolds.  This was not done with Mike Piazza‘s 31 or Tom Seaver‘s 41.  In sum, the Mets not taking the number out of circulation indicates the team had no intentions of retiring the number.  That’s odd considering Beltran’s Hall of Fame resume and tenure with the Mets.

It’s also odd how long it took the Mets to acknowledge Beltran’s retirement and to provide well wishes to one of the best players in their history:

In that time frame, the Mets wished Hasdrubal Cabrera a Happy Birthday, corrected the tweet to say Asdrubal Cabrera, and tweeted the April 15 glove promotion.  The silence on Beltran was almost deafening.

It seems to be symbolic on a frost between both sides as evidenced in Beltran’s Players’ Tribune piece.  Beltran talked about getting called up and breaking into the majors with the Royals.  He waxed poetic about tips he received from Reggie Jackson during his time with the Yankees.  He spoke about the championship run with the Astros.  As for the Mets, he mentioned getting traded in 2011.  Overall, there wasn’t any quip about something positive that happened to him during his time in Flushing.

There could be many reasons for that, but given the history between the two sides, it doesn’t seem accidental.

Overall, there seems to be some chasm between the Mets and Beltran.  It’s a real shame too because Beltran’s Hall of Fame case was built during his time with the Mets.  For the Mets, they have not had many players as great as Beltran in their history.  Beltran is definitively their best center fielder, and quite possibly, the best outfielder in their history.

Five years from now, when Beltran is inducted into the Hall of Fame, he should be talking about wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, and the Mets should be planning a number retirement ceremony.  Based upon what we’ve seen over the past few years, that doesn’t seem as much of a certainty as it should.

The good news is that there’s still time for the Mets to sell Beltran on wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.  That starts with the easiest decision imaginable with the team inducting him into their own Hall of Fame.  It would also behoove them to take 15 out of circulation.  This is just a step, but an important one – one the Mets need to do if they want to add a third Hall of Famer to the legacy of the New York Mets organization.

 

Assessing The Mets Second Base Trade Targets

Looking over the free agent roster and the Mets internal options, second base may be the most difficult position to fill.  Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and T.J. Rivera each have the bat, but they don’t have the glove. Additionally, Rivera is coming off of Tommy John surgery.  Gavin Cecchini and Phillip Evans have the glove, but they don’t have the bat.

Accordingly, the Mets may best suited to make a trade for a second baseman.  There are some interesting, yet flawed, candidates available:

Dee Gordon

2017 Stats: .308/.341/.375, 20 2B, 9 3B, 2 HR, 33 RBI, 60 SB, 16 CS
Advanced: 3.4 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR, 94 OPS, 92 wRC+, 3 DRS
Salary: 3 years, $37.9, 2021 option ($1 million buyout)

For Mets fans, Gordon seems to be the cure to many ills.  He is a top of the order hitter who steals bases and has a good defensive reputation.  The problem with Gordon is much of his reputation is based upon a career year in 2015, and he has yet to replicate that season.  Overall, he’s been a great base stealer, average defender, and someone who does not walk nearly enough to hit atop the order.  Between that and the salary, the Mets should look elsewhere.

Josh Harrison

2017 Stats: .272/.339/.432, 26 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 47 RBI, 12 SB, 4 CS
Advanced: 3.3 bWAR, 2.6 fWAR, 101 OPS+, 104 wRC+, 6 DRS
Salary: 1 year, $10.25 million (Team options next two seasons)

Harrison seems to be the type of player the Mets covet this offseason due to his versatility.  He’s been a good defender at second, and he can handle himself at third and both corner outfield positions.  He also has a reasonable contract with reasonable team options in succeeding years.  There are two caveats with Harrison.  First, Harrison does not draw many walks.  More importantly for a Mets team unable to keep players on the field, Harrison has his own injury issues.

Ian Kinsler

2017 Stats: .236/.313/.412, 25 2B, 3 3B, 22 HR, 52 RBI, 14 SB, 5 CS
Advanced: 2.1 bWAR, 1.5 fWAR, 90 OPS+, 91 wRC+, 6 DRS
Salary: 1 year, $11 million

With the season Kinsler just had, it’s fair to question whether he’s done at 35 years old.  Even with the dropoff, he was still a good defender at second, and he maintained a respectable 9.0% walk rate.  Like most of his career, he had a good start to the season, hit lefties well, and he tapered off as the season progressed.  It’s possible being put in a new situation with a new manager will be able to rejuvenate him.  Even if it doesn’t, you’re still getting a good defender with a solid clubhouse presence at a somewhat reasonable cost.

Jason Kipnis

2017 Stats: .232/.291/.414, 25 2B, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 6 SB, 2 CS
Advanced: 0.4 bWAR, 0.7 fWAR, 81 OPS+, 82 wRC+, -2 DRS
Salary: 2 years, $28.3 million ($16.5 million 2020 option)

After being a reasonably healthy player, Kipnis had an injury plagued year that kept him off the field and helped lead to a career worst year.  Ever the team player, Kipnis came back from the disabled list, and with him having been supplanted at second base by Jose Ramirez, he went to center field.  With Ramirez playing a terrific second and the emergence of Yandy Diaz, it’s rumored the Indians may be willing to move Kipnis.

It’s also likely it’s going to be a high price tag.  Kipnis has a reasonably salary, and the Indians could use him at either first of the outfield depending on what happens with Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce.  Considering he’s a 4.0+ WAR player when healthy, he might just be worth whatever price the Indians demand.

Ben Zobrist

2017 Stats: .232/.318/.375, 20 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB, 2 CS
Advanced: 0.5 bWAR, 0.3 fWAR 79 OPS+, 82 wRC+, 5 DRS
Salary: 2 years, $29 million

After the 2015 season, the Mets thought Zobrist might be the player to take them over the top, and they vigorously pursued him in free agency.  The Mets were proven to be correct when Zobrist was the 2016 World Series MVP.  For those that believed Zobrist’s deal was going to be harsh at the tail end, they seemed to be proven correct with Zobrist having a poor year where he looked every bit of his 36 years of age.

Still, Zobrist is just one year off of being a good major league player, a good defender at second, and every bit as versatile as he’s always been.  While he’s not officially on the trade block, the Cubs are nearing a bit of a roster crunch with Albert Almora staking a claim in CF and Ian Happ proving he should be an everyday player.  Unless the Cubs want to pay Zobrist big bucks to be a utility player, they may look to move him, and the team has been known to like Seth Lugo.  This isn’t saying that’s what gets it done for both sides.  Still, it’s interesting the Cubs have a player the Mets want, and the Mets have a player the Cubs want.  This could lead to trade discussions, and Sandy getting a player he has long coveted.

Overall, the Mets would be improved by getting anyone of these players, but that does not necessarily mean that is the best allocation of resources.  Given the contract length and what should be a relatively low sales price, it would seem Kinsler should be the Mets top target.  If the Mets had more talent available in their farm system, perhaps then you may be more willing to pursue a Kipnis or Harrison.

How To Get Rid Of Your Halloween Candy

If you are anything like me, you took your child our trick-or-treating, and you collected far more candy than your child could or should ever eat.  My son loved trick-or-treating so much this year, we collected the equivalent of three of those jack o’lantern pails.  He’s not going to eat one of them let alone three.  This leaves us searching for ways to get rid of all that candy.  If you arent’t eating it yourself (surprisingly, I’ve never taken anything from my son’s Halloween haul), here are some suggestions to get rid of it:

1.  Donate It

There are plenty of charitable organizations like the Ronald McDonald House or Soldiers’ Angels who will gladly accept the candy and provide it to children or soliders.  These are just two examples.  A simple Google search could discover more, or if you have a favorite charity send it to them.

2.  Sell It

Increasingly, there are places that will either give you cash, coupons, or swag in exchange for your excess candy.  You can find places that participate in these programs by vising Halloween Candy Buy Back‘s website.

3.  Save for Christmas

Look, in about a month or so, you are going to be hanging the stockings by the chimney with care.  Instead of going out and buying a Snickers or M&M’s with a red and/or green wrapper, just stick the candy with the normal wrapper in your child’s stocking.

4.  Use for Goody Bags or Piñata

Sooner or later your child is going to have a birthday, and with it a birthday party.  Instead of buying new candy or going without candy, stick a couple of pieces in the goody bags.  If you have enough leftover, you could even put them in a piñata to add another fun event to your child’s birthday party.

5.  Add It to Breakfast

One way to encourage your child to get them to start cooking is to use the candy to get them to help you make breakfast.  The easiest way to do that is to make pancakes or waffles.  The easiest candies to incorporate are M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces.  Although you could cut up the fun sized candy pieces down to smaller chunks if you wanted.  The easiest way to incorporate the candy would be to drop them onto the unbaked side of the pancake or waffle.  You could also toss the candy with some flour to help prevent the candy from dropping to the bottom of the batter.

6.  Bake with It

There are any number of things you could do with candy in baking.  You could incorporate them into cake or cupcake batter.  Another idea is once the icing is put on the cakes, your child could then stick the candy on the icing of the cake, or you could use a piece of candy as a decoration atop a cupcake.  If you’re really daring, you could make a cake or cupcake in the theme of the specific candy.  It should be noted we did this with my son’s birthday cake last year much to his delight:

For example, make a vanilla cake, put some peanuts and caramel between the layers, cover with chocolate icing, and then stick some chopped up Snickers bars around the cake.

You could also melt it down to make a bark or cover pretzels.

7.  Incentivize with It

Is there an area where your child needs to improve?  Putting toys away?  School?  Manners?  You can use the extra candy as an incentive program to help reward good behavior.  And yes, I mean incentivize.  There’s a fine line between incentivizing and bribing.  Bribing is telling them if they do something, they’ll get it.  Incentivizing is giving it to them without first promising it to them.

8.  Family Movie Night

Instead of going out to the movies, maybe have a family movie night at home.  Rent a new movie the kids haven’t seen, make some popcorn, and give them some of the candy from Halloween.  This way they get some of the movie theater experience right at home.  If you’re able to find a movie on Netflix or HBO, you’ve created a fun night without spending an extra dime.

9.  Bring It to Work

You know if you bring anything to work and leave it out in the open, the vultures around your office will soon circle and clean you out.

10.  Save For Next Halloween

Candy takes a long time to expire.  If you really have that much candy, just save it in a cool dry place and use it to hand out to trick or treaters who come to your home next year.

Scrubs: My Disasterous 2017 Mets Season

In the end, this Mets season was just one large Scrubs season.  It wasn’t quite a comedy.  It wasn’t quite a drama.  Not nearly enough people should have appreciated it.  And, oh yeah, the players resembled the characters:

J.D. – Michael Conforto

There are many ways we can choose to compare the two with how they are treated by authority figures and seem to be dreamers.  Overall, it’s the Janitor who shows how the two are unmistakably intertwined:

Turk – Noah Syndergaard

Like Turk, Syndergaard can be both silly (his hatred of Mr. Met), had their bromances that ended when their bff departed (Bartolo Colon), and are serious about their craft (60′ 6″ away).  Both had serious health issues (Turk – diabetes; Thor – torn lat), that they largely ignored until they could no longer.

Dr. Cox – Sandy Alderson

Both are brash, saracastic, and quick witted.  They want everyone to conform, leave them alone, and they want the higher ups to give them the revenue they need to do their jobs because secretly they care.   Both have to deal with the hand they are given and do better than possibly anyone else would in their position.

Elliott – Jacob deGrom

The precocious blonde with long locks has gone from being overlooked to front and center.  Now, after a drastic haircut, we see them all grown up and in charge

Carla – Curtis Granderson

For much of the show, Carla was really the only adult in the room.  She was the one who was a parent and a friend to everyone.  There was no Met who has ever embodied that better than Granderson.

Kelso – Fred Wilpon

He’s the penny pinching curmudgeon who deep down believes he cares about the place more than anyone.  As time goes on, and they become more separated from the day-t0-day affairs, they become more likeable as newer villains begin to run interference.  In reality, they haven’t changed one bit.  Just ask Enid.

Janitor – Asdrubal Cabrera

He was once a guy with dreams and wanted to be someone.  Instead, he’s stuck around this place finding himself not wanting to be fired despite not being good at his job and terrifying everyone.  Oh, and now he needs this job to provide for his family.

The Todd – Yoenis Cespedes

Both seem like all flash and no substance with high fives, bat flips, cars, banana hammocks, chains, and compression sleeves.  However, once you get past all of that and look at their abilities, they are among the best at what they do.

Ted – Travis d’Arnaud

There was probably a time where dear old Ted had the world as his oyster much like d’Arnaud did when he first joined the Mets organization.  At this point both are beaten down and quite possibly both are forever broken.  In d’Arnaud’s case that’s probably more physical than spiritual.

Jordan – Terry Collins

As we found out in Marc Carig’s piece about Collins’ firing, the manager had contempt for most everyone around him except for a small few he treated kindly.  Of course to him that meant hurting them (ruining their arms).  That’s Jordan in a nutshell – hates almost everyone and is still nasty to those she likes.

Murphy – Ray Ramirez

They want to help, but they just keep killing everyone in their path.  Like with Dr. Murphy, the Mets have finally found a place where he could do less harm.

Keith Dudemeister – Lucas Duda

Aside from the fact that their surnames practically beg for the comparison, both seem like people we could have all been friends with under completely different circumstances.

Laverne – Jose Reyes

Just when you thought they were dead and gone, they’ve come back.  For Laverne, she came back under a different name.  For Reyes, it was a different position.

Enid – David Wright

Both were quite loved in their day, but now they are broken down and our eyes look elsewhere for something younger and sexier to take their place.

Sean – Kevin Plawecki

They seem like perfectly nice guys who try hard. In the end no matter what they do, no matter how good it is, it elicts the same response.  “Nobody cares!”

Bearfacé – Chasen Bradford

Of all the Mets, Bradford was the only Mets player who put together a beard that could come close to Beardface.

Extra points to Bradford for Baseball Reference not quite knowing if it’s Chase or Chasen similar to how Dr. Beardface constantly corrects everyone screaming it’s BEARD-FAS-AY!

Hooch –Hansel Robles

When Robles points to the sky as if to suggest a home run is just a pop fly, you know Robles is crazy.  Like Hooch, the craziness was comical at first, but now it is just downright scary.

Lloyd – Jeff Wilpon

He’s got the job because of who his father is, and someone he has a place on the Brain Trust.

Dr. Wen – Dan Warthen

They were tutors for a young talented group, but in the end, their time came as they refused to adapt.  For Warthen, it was teaching a slider when everyone was focusing on the curve.  For Dr. Wen, it was:

Ben – Neil Walker

He came here sick, and the Mets just couldn’t fix him no matter what they did.  Before we knew it, he was gone, and we were all looking for someone to blame.

Dan – Jay Bruce

When he first appeared, he was useless, and yet, somehow people seemed to love him.  He was an older brother that tried to take people under his wing, but he, himself, was the one who needed help.  Eventually, he got himself together just before we all said good bye to him.

Leonard – Seth Lugo

It’s the giant hook and the impressive hair (afro, blonde).

Julie – Wilmer Flores

Both are young, lovable, and so accident prone.  In the entire Scrubs series, the only way capable of breaking their own nose the way Wilmer did was Julie.

Jill – Matt Harvey

We all just assumed the worst in their intentions.  However, in the end, we discovered it wasn’t anything they did particularly wrong.  Rather, it was a problem related to something else entirely that if someone detected it earlier, everything might have changed.  Instead, a waste of a 2017 ensued.

Gift Shop GirlCarlos Beltran

We had our chance with him, but we blew it.  We forgot about him for a long time, but now that we remember him, he’s now got a ring on his finger.

Paige – Brandon Nimmo

Both are extremely religious, and you cannot wipe the smile off of either one’s face . . . no matter how much you try.

Mickhead – Barwis

We all know Barwis murdered the Mets season.  We just don’t have the proof.

IBWAA Awards Ballot

AL MVP – 2B Jose Altuve

Traditional Stats: .346/.410/.547, 112 R, 204 H, 39 2B, 4 3B, 24 HR, 81 RBI, 32 SB, 6 CS
Advanced Stats: 8.3 bWAR, 7.5 fWAR, 164 OPS+, 160 wRC+, 3 DRS

Why He Should Win: According to bWAR, Altuve was the best player in not just the American League, but in all of baseball.  Part of the reason for that was his leading the league in both hits and batting average.  However, unlike most players who amass over 200 hit a season, Altuve had a respectable 8.7% walk rate.  Essentially, this means he was in the middle of everything for the team with the second best record in the American League.

Why He Won’t Win: While Altuve was the best player according to bWAR, Judge held that position for fWAR.  Judge also had the benefit of leading the league in runs (128), walks (127), and homers (52).  The 52 was the best mark ever for a rookie.  He also won the Home Run Derby further raising the profile of a player who brought the Yankees back to prominence.  In the end, you could argue it’s a flip of the coin between Altuve and Judge.  In the end where Altuve gets the nod is he was far more consistent than Judge.

Others Considered: 2.  Aaron Judge 3.  Andrelton Simmons 4.  Mike Trout 5. Jose Ramirez 6.  Corey Kluber 7.  Carlos Correa 8.  Mookie Betts  9.  Byron Buxton 10.  Chris Sale

NL MVP – 3B Nolan Arenado

Traditional Stats: .309/.373/.586, 100 R, 187 H, 43 2B, 7 3B, 37 HR, 130 RBI, 3 SB, 2 CS
Advanced Stats: 7.2 bWAR, 5.6 fWAR, 132 OPS+, 129 wRC+, 20 DRS

Why He Should Win: In terms of MVP voting, we tend to look at just the offense, and well, those numbers are there for Arenado, who lead the National League in doubles.  He was also top 10 in batting average, slugging, OPS, runs, hits, total bases, triples, homers, RBI, and extra base hits.

That’s all well and good, but what really makes Arenado the MVP was he is quite possibly the best defender in the National League.  When you combine his offense, which as OPS+ and wRC+ indicate is more than his being a Coors Field creation, and his exceptional defense, no one in the National League affected the game in more ways than Arenado.  That was a large reason why the Rockies made a surprising run to the postseason.

Why He Won’t Win: MVP voters really don’t care that much about defense.  Instead, they tend to be more focused on offense and narrative.  Another reason is that while he’s third among NL bWAR leaders (trailing the leader by just 0.4), he falls well short in bWAR.  As a result, while Arenado likely will not get the respect he deserves.

Others Considered: 2.  Max Scherzer  3.  Mike Stanton  4.  Kris Bryant  5.  Paul Goldschmidt 6.  Anthony Rendon 7.  Tommy Pham 8.  Justin Turner 9.  Joey Votto 10.  Charlie Blackmon

AL Cy YoungCorey Kluber

Traditional Stats: 18-4, 2.25 ERA, 29 G, 29 GS, 5 CG, 3 SHO, 203.2 IP, 265 K, 0.869 WHIP, 1.6 BB/9, 11.7 K/9
Advanced Stats: 8.0 bWAR, 7.3 fWAR 202 ERA+, 2.50 FIP

Why He Should Win: If you’re choosing your traditional or advanced metric, Kluber was the best pitcher in the AL leading the league in wins, ERA, CG, SHO, ERA+, pitching WAR, and WHIP.  He walked the fewest per nine, and he was second in the league in strikeouts.  In sum, Kluber was about as dominant a starting pitcher as there was this year.

Why He Won’t Win: Sale put on a show for Boston posting a rare 300 strikeout season.  He also pitching in a tougher hitter’s division in a more difficult park for left-handed pitchers to succeed.  Still, even with all of that, it’s hard to find anyone who will have Sale ahead of Kluber.

Others Considered: 2.  Chris Sale 3.  Luis Severino 4.  Justin Verlander 5.  Carlos Carrasco

NL Cy YoungMax Scherzer

Traditional Stats: 16-6, 2.51 ERA, 31 G, 31 GS, 2 CG, 200.2 IP, 268 K, 0.902 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 12.0 K/9
Advanced Stats: 7.3 bWAR, 6.0 fWAR, 177 ERA+, 2.90 FIP

Why He Should Win: The Cy Young Race in the NL has become increasingly tight due to the emergence of Scherzer as an ace’s ace and Kershaw’s injuries.  The two pitchers have been neck-and-neck over the past few seasons in terms of dominance and who leads the statistical catergories leaving difficultly in determining which one is the better pitcher.  Overall, Scherzer gets the nod here because he made more starts and pitched more innings making him all the more reliable and dominant for a longer stretch.

Why He Won’t Win: Because Kershaw was Kershaw again in 2017.

Others Considered: 2.  Clayton Kershaw 3.  Zack Greinke 4.  Stephen Strasburg 5.  Robbie Ray

AL Manager of the Year – Joe Girardi

Why He Should Win: Just like his first ever year managing with the Marlins, Girardi took a young team, and they far surpassed expectations.  But Girardi did more than that.  He also helped players like Jacoby Ellsbury accept a diminished role, and he was able to get Chase Headley to agree to move from third base, a position where he is seen as a good defender.  These are issues that could typically derail a season, but it didn’t for the Yankees.  Between that and the usual good bullpen management where mostly everyone was healthy again, Girardi should get the nod.

Why He Won’t Win: Francona is probably the best manager in baseball right now, and he once again did a great job with the Indians.  A.J. Hinch led an Astros team that won 101 games.  The Twins were the biggest surprise in all of baseball, and they were led by Molitor.  Overall, it’s a close race with many deserving winners.

Others Considered: 2.  Terry Francona  3.  Paul Molitor

NL Manager of the Year – Dave Roberts

Why He Should Win:  If he’s not already, Roberts is becoming the best manager in all of baseball.  He’s able to take the advanced data the front office is pushing him to use, and he’s selling it to the players in a way there is no discord.  More than that, we saw him help resurrect Yasiel Puig‘s career.  His handling of the RF has brought out the best in him, and coincidentally, the best in the Dodgers.

Why He Won’t Win:  The only knock you could really have against Roberts is the Dodgers were supposed to be good.  You probably couldn’t say the same about the Brewers, Diamondbacks, or Rockies.  There was potential there, but it was not a guarantee.  That could help push any one of those managers to the top of the heap.

Others Considered: 2.  Craig Counsell 3. Torey Lovullo

AL Rookie of the Year – RF Aaron Judge

Traditional Stats: .284/.422/.627, 128 R, 154 H, 24 2B, 3 3B, 52 HR, 114 RBI, 9 SB, 4 CS
Advanced Stats: 8.1 bWAR, 8.2 fWAR, 171 OPS+, 173 wRC+

Why He Should Win: If you were one of a handful of the best players in baseball with none of the other top echelon players being rookies, you’re the clear-cut Rookie of the Year.

Why He Won’t Win:  You didn’t watch a single inning of the 2017 season, and you stuck with your pre-season choice.

Others Considered: 2.  Andrew Benintendi  3.  Matt Olson

NL Rookie of the Year – 1B Cody Bellinger

Traditional Stats: .267/.352/.581, 87 R, 26 2B, 4 3B, 39 HR, 97 RBI, 10 SB, 3 CS
Advanced Stats: 4.2 bWAR, 4.0 fWAR, 142 OPS+, 138 wRC+

Why He Should Win:  There are plenty of things you could point out as to why Bellinger should win the Rookie of the Year including his leading all NL rookies in WAR and homers.  However, when assessing his case, one thing jumps off the page.  When he was in the lineup, the Dodgers were 91-41, and with him out of the lineup, the team was 13-17.  Simply put, he was a difference maker.

Why He Won’t Win: There were other good rookies in the NL like Hoskins, Margot, and Josh Bell.  Any one of them could garner votes.  In reality, they’re fighting over second place.

Others Considered: 2.  Rhys Hoskins 3.  Manuel Margot

AL Reliever of the Year – Craig Kimbrel

Traditional Stats: 5-0, 1.43 ERA, 67 G, 35 SV, 126 K, 0.681 WHIP, 1.8 BB/9, 16.4 K/9
Advanced Stats: 3.6 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR, 319 ERA+, 1.42 FIP

Why He Should Win: If you’re looking for a reliever who came into the game and shut the door, that was Kimbrel.  He blew just three saves all season, which is remarkable considering how unhittable he was leading AL relievers in strikeouts, WHIP, and opponent’s batting average.

Why He Won’t Win:  Osuna was nearly as dominant as Kimbrel, and he actually led the league in saves.  Still, Kimbrel’s stats were better, and Osuna blew far more saves than Kimbrel.

Others Considered: 2.  Robert0 Osuna 3.  Chad Green

NL Reliever of the Year – Kenley Jansen

Traditional Stats: 5-0, 1.32 ERA, 65 G, 41 SV, 68.1 IP, 109 K, 0.746 WHIP, 0.9 BB/9, 14.4 K/9
Advanced Stats: 2.9 bWAR, 3.5 fWAR, 318 ERA+, 1.31 FIP

Why He Should Win: There is a reason why he’s getting the premature Mariano Rivera comparisons.  He’s as dominant a reliever as there is in baseball right now.  Basically, if there’s a category for a reliever to led, he’s at or near the top with him leading the league in many including WAR and saves.

 Why He Won’t Win:   Don’t worry.  He will.

Others Considered: 2.  Corey Knebel  3.  Brad Hand

Trivia Friday – Sandy’s First Free Agent Signings

With the Mets only having so many holes this offseason, it appears the team is going to have to make a few strikes in free agency.  Presumably, the sooner the team locks up a Todd Frazier or an Addison Reed, they can quickly shift their focus to the next need.  There’s just one problem.  In his tenure as the Mets GM, Sandy’s first free agent acqusition has typically been lacklaster.

Can you name the first MLB free agent Sandy has signed with the Mets each offseason?  Good luck!


D.J. Carrasco Ronny Paulino Jon Rauch Shaun Marcum Chris Young Michael Cuddyer Asdrubal Cabrera Neil Ramirez