The Next Jacob deGrom Might’ve Just Seen His Baseball Career End

This past week, the New York Mets released 39 minor league players. They were far from the only team who took that action. Every MLB undertook the same process with the COVID19 shutdown, the ever increasingly likely cancellation of the minor league season, and the contraction of 42 minor league teams.

This led to a variety of reactions. Many were sad, and some were angry. There was also Andrew Church who eviscerated the Mets and Tim Tebow. Lost in that was the purge of minor league talent.

Make no mistake, every minor leaguer who was released was a talented baseball player. They had enough talent to get a contract to play professional baseball. The issue at the moment was teams like the Mets thought better to get rid of them so they wouldn’t have to pay them $400/week.

When you look at the players who were released, you really have to question whether the Mets would’ve released Jacob deGrom under similar circumstances. Don’t be so sure they wouldn’t have.

Going back a decade, deGrom was a ninth round draft pick out of Stetson University. While much has been made about his being a collegiate SS, truth be told deGrom had converted to a pitcher Junior year. That year, he pitched and played short. It was his pitching which caught the Mets attention.

Just because he caught the Mets attention, it doesn’t mean he was good right away.

As a 22 year old, deGrom was assigned to a Kingsport franchise which is in line to be contracted. Despite being over a full year older than the competition, he did not pitch well.

In the six starts deGrom made, he was 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA, 1.577 WHIP, and a 7.6 K/9. Batters hit .324/.360/.472 off of him. At the end of the year, he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL.

At that time, there was nothing which could give you any indication he was about to become a pitcher who would have a dominant 2015 postseason in addition to consecutive Cy Youngs.

No, he looked like an older prospect for his level who couldn’t beat younger batters, and worse yet, he had a busted elbow. If you’re looking to not pay players, and you’re looking to cut down the amount of people in your system to prepare for a loss of affiliates, deGrom was going to be in real danger of getting released.

If that happened, deGrom doesn’t get the chance to get healthy, learn a change-up from Johan Santana, and start on a path towards being a potential Hall of Famer. No, in all likelihood, his career would’ve been over.

Now, it’s very possible none of the 39 players released by the Mets could’ve done what deGrom did. Most and maybe all don’t even make it to the majors. However, that’s not the point.

The point is unless you give prospects real time to learn and develop you’re never going to find the next deGrom. The same can be said for Mike Piazza, Jeff McNeil, of Seth Lugo. For that matter, the Mets miss the 2016 postseason without undrafted free agent T.J. Rivera.

In the end, MLB franchises opted to end the dreams of minor leaguers over $400/week. In the process, they’re going to potentially miss out on the next diamond in the rough, or even that key player who gets them to the postseason thereby making the franchise millions of dollars.

Simulated Recap: Dom Delivers

With Robinson Cano homering and Rick Porcello dealing, the Mets were tied 1-1 with the Dodgers heading into the seventh.

Amed Rosario broke the tie with an RBI single. The Mets couldn’t build off that 2-1 lead after J.D. Davis failed to deliver in the RBI situation.

Dominic Smith would in the eighth hitting a three run homer. That put the Mets ahead 5-1, and that would be the final score with Robert Gsellman picking up the win in relief.

2000 Game Recap: Pratt Caps Off Grand Comeback

If you thought this game went long, you were right. In fact, this back-and-forth 4:09 game between the Mets and Dodgers was the longest nine inning game in Mets history. That also makes it the longest Mets nine inning victory in team history.

Melvin Mora was rushed back off the DL after Rey Ordonez‘s injury, and he found himself atop the lineup and playing center. If there was any rust, Mora did not show it hitting a lead-off single, and stealing second. On his stolen base attempt, former Met Todd Hundley threw it away allowing Mora to go to third. That allowed him to score easily on Edgardo Alfonzo‘s RBI single.

The Mets did not enjoy the lead for very long. In the third, the Dodgers broke through against Bobby Jones. The trouble started with a Todd Hollandsworth lead-off walk. Hollandsworth stole second, but Jones almost got out of the inning after getting the next two Dodgers out.

Jones could not get Shawn Green out who hit an RBI single and advanced to second on a Mora error. Green would then score on an Eric Karros two run homer. That homer gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.

Dodgers starter Eric Gagne would only last four plus. After he allowed an Alfonzo double and Mike Piazza RBI single, he was lifted for Matt Herges. While Herges was relief in the fifth getting the Dodgers out of the jam, he was not that in the sixth.

After quick strikeouts of Kurt Abbott and Jones, Herges consecutive singles to Mora and Derek Bell. On the Bell infield single, Dave Hansen threw it away allowing Mora and Bell to go to second and third. That allowed both runners to score on the ensuing Alfonzo RBI single which gave the Mets a 4-3 lead.

At that point, Jones had pitched reasonably well. Over five innings, he had allowed just three runs on six hits and two walks. At 87 pitches, you understood why he was sent out there for the bottom of the sixth. Still, after former Met Hundley led off the inning with a double, he got the quick hook with Dennis Cook coming into the game to face the left-handed Hansen.

Davey Johnson countered to putting Kevin Elster into the game as a pinch hitter. As an aside, that’s a sentence which could have been written a decade ago back when Hundley, Johnson, and Elster were all Mets.

Elster singled putting runners at the corners. Geronimo Berroa then pinch hit for Herges, and he drove home Chad Kreuter, who pinch ran for an injured Hundley. Cook finally got a lefty in Hollandsworth, and he struck him out.

With the known right-handed batters coming up, Bobby Valentine brought in Pat Mahomes, who has been really overworked of late. Mahomes allowed an RBI single to Mark Grudzielanek before retiring Gary Sheffield to end the inning. With that, the Mets 4-3 lead had become a 5-4 deficit.

That’s where the score was in the ninth when the Dodgers brought in Jeff Shaw to close out the game. Mike Piazza would get the inning started with a lead-off single on the first pitch Shaw threw. With the slow-footed Piazza representing the tying run, Valentine sent in Jay Payton to pinch run.

After Robin Ventura walked on four pitches, Payton would score the tying run on a Todd Zeile RBI single. That also had the go-ahead run in scoring position. The Dodgers not wanting to lose the game brought in Terry Adams to relieve Shaw.

With the go-ahead run on second with no outs, Valentine made the curious decision of having Joe McEwing pinch hit for Benny Agbayani to bunt the runners over. Instead, McEwing would strike out. After Kurt Abbott walked, Jon Nunnally struck out.

That put the game on Mora’s shoulders. He had a tough seven pitch at-bat where he drew a walk forcing home the go-ahead run. That brought up John Franco‘s spot in the batting order. With Piazza already out of the game with Payton pinch running for him, Valentine sent up Todd Pratt. Pratt would deliver a grand slam to put the Mets up 10-5.

Armando Benitez entered the game in the ninth, and he quickly shut the door. With a victory in this long, long game, the Mets have put themselves in a position to have a winning road trip with one game remaining. That’s not too bad considering how poorly things went in San Diego to start this insane three city two time zone road trip.

Game Notes: Ordonez is expected to miss at least six weeks. Mora and Abbott are expected to split the shortstop duties in his absence. Today, Mora was in center, and Abbott was at short.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

Rob Manfred Taking 35% Pay Cut While Demanding Much More Of Players

Back in March, Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association agreed the players would receive a prorated portion of their salaries predicated upon how many games were played in 2020. This has now devolved into a he said-she said with owners trying to back out of the deal and push for players to cut their salaries more than previously agreed.

Based upon the proposed revised season from the owners, there would be an 81 game season. Even if the previously agreed upon deal was honored by both sides, that would mean each player would receive half of their 2020 salary. As an example, Marcus Stroman would only make $6 million out of his $12 million salary.

However, the proposal MLB made earlier this week would not allow Stroman to make his $6 million let alone the $12 he agreed upon in arbitration. No, MLB wants to pay him MUCH less than that. As part of what could be described as a union busting plan, MLB proposed staggering ADDITIONAL pay cuts to the players. Jeff Passan of ESPN broke down the percentages:

Just to let you know how this works math works out, Passan used Mike Trout, the highest paid player in the game, as an example. Trout was due to make $36.7 million in 2020. Under the proposal presented by MLB, Trout’s salary would be reduced from $36.7 million to $5,748,577. That’s a pay cut of roughly 85%.

Running through the same convoluted math for Stroman, and we see his $12 million salary be reduced to roughly $2.7 million. That is a 78% pay cut. More than that, Stroman is being less than what Michael Wacha‘s $3 million base salary was supposed to be in 2020, but unlike Wacha, he’s not going to get incentives to raise his salary.

Let’s compare that to Commissioner Rob Manfred.

According to rumors, Manfred earns $11 million per year as the commissioner of baseball. If we were to use the same formula for Manfred as we used for the players, Manfred’s $11 million salary would drop to approximately $2.6 million. That would be an approximate 76% pay cut.

However, that is not what Manfred is doing. No, he is only cutting his salary by 35%. That means instead of the $2.6 million he would make as a player, he is going to make $7.15 million.

Keep in mind, Manfred is not going to have to assume the risk of playing games and traveling. He is not going to have to be separated from his family for months on end. He is not going to have to experience the same level of exposure to COVID19 as the players will if the season ever resumes. No, Manfred has the option to work from home or from an office he can dictate screening procedures. He can go home to his family every night.

Even if we take the owners who won’t open their books at face value and accept they can’t proceed with a season paying players at the previously collectively bargained amounts, there needs to be an explanation why Manfred should only take a 35% pay cut while Stroman takes a 78% pay cut.

We need an explanation why Manfred should make more money off of his $11 million than Trout will make off of his $36.7 million. Seriously, Manfred is currently slated to make about $1.45 million more than Trout. When you look at it that way, you understand a little more why Max Scherzer responded on behalf of the players the way he did:

In the end, fans have taken different positions on this fight between the players and owners. Many are frustrated in what they see as a fight between billionaires and millionaires. While we have the right to our own opinions, and we can understand people’s frustrations, we should be at least able to agree a system where Manfred’s pay is cut only 35% and players’ salaries are cut anywhere from 70 – 85% is unfair, and no one should be defending Manfred and the owners pursuing such an inequity.

Simulated Recap: Bellinger Ruins Matz’s Birthday

The Mets had this one. With Jake Marisnick, Brandon Nimmo, and Pete Alonso homering, the Mets had a 5-3 lead, and it looked like Steven Matz was going to get the win on his birthday.

Then, in the eighth, Cody Bellinger hit a three run homer off Dellin Betances. With that, the Mets 5-3 lead turned into a 6-5 loss.

2000 Game Recap: Rey Ordonez Breaks Arms In Loss

It was a play only Rey Ordonez could make. After F.P. Santangelo had his at-bat extended by a Robin Ventura error on a foul ball pop up, he walked. Al Leiter picked Santangelo off first, and Todd Zeile made a poor throw. For any other shortstop, this would have been a ball thrown into left field.

However, this is Ordonez. He made one of the most incredible plays you will ever see. Ordonez lunged to get the errant throw, and he then twisted in the air getting the tag on Santangelo to record the out. That wasn’t the only out on the play. The defensive wizard Ordonez broke his arm on the play, and he is going to be headed to the DL.

Ordonez wouldn’t be the only loss for the Mets. For the first time all season, the Mets would lose a game Leiter started.

Like the last time the Mets went out west, which was somehow little over a week ago, the Mets hot bats went cold against a mediocre pitcher. This time, it was Chan Ho Park who shut them down.

Over the first six-and-a-half innings, both teams would put together rallies, but they would each fall short. For example, the Mets twice had two on, and they failed to score. As for the Dodgers, they were shooting themselves in the foot.

In the second, Mike Piazza threw out his old roommate Eric Karros trying to steal a base to end the inning. In the fifth, Karros tried to score from first on a Chad Kreuter double, and he was thrown out at the plate on a Joe McEwingKurt Abbott relay. Abbott’s throw was high, but Piazza had enough time to leap, land, and put down the tag. In the sixth, Karros was not going to run the Dodgers out of the inning.

In that sixth inning, Leiter just lost it. He gave up a single to Jose Vizcaino to start the inning. After a Park sacrifice bunt Leiter hit the next two batters to load the bases with one out. Leiter was all over the place, and after throwing a first pitch ball to Shawn Green, he tried to throw a strike. Instead, he made a mistake, a big mistake as Green hit a grand slam.

It was a shame that happened as Leiter was very good in this game other than that stretch. In fact, other than that inning, Leiter had allowed just three other hits and issued one walk. If not for this sixth inning meltdown, who knows how much longer this game would’ve gone.

The Mets bullpen did their job with Rich Rodriguez and Jim Mann combining to pitch a scoreless seventh and eighth to give the Mets a chance. To their credit, the Mets would rally in the ninth against Dodgers closer Jeff Shaw.

Benny Agbayani led off the ninth with a single, and there would be runners on first and second with one out after a Matt Franco pinch hit walk. After a Derek Bell ground out, McEwing hit an RBI double. Unfortunately, that was the only run the Mets would score in the 4-1 loss as Edgardo Alfonzo grounded out to end the game.

For the Mets, the loss is one thing. The bigger issue for the team going forward is going to be how they are going to handle shortstop for the next two months as Ordonez’s broken arm heals.

Game Notes: Melvin Mora is expected to come off the DL after this road trip. It remains to be seen if he will be rushed back with Ordonez hitting the DL and Abbott hitting just .200. This was Mann’s MLB debut. Given what the Mets decided to do with Rick Reed, he may stay on the roster for a longer stretch than originally anticipated.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

Miracle Bracket: (1) Tom Seaver vs. (8) Rusty Staub

(1) Tom Seaver – Seaver is dubbed The Franchise for taking the team from a losing franchise to World Series winners. He holds nearly every pitching record in team history, and he is considered to be, if not the greatest, among the greatest right-handed pitchers in Major League history. He was the first Mets player to have his number retired, and he was the first Mets player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. To date, he is the starting pitcher with the highest percent of the vote.

(8) Rusty Staub – Staub was a superstar caliber player the Mets acquired who helped the 1973 Ya Gotta Believe! Mets make an incredible run. During that time, he suffered a number of injuries, including a separated shoulder. Despite that, he hit .423 in the series. He was the first ever Mets player to reach 100 RBI, and he held the single season record for well over a decade. He returned to the Mets at the end of his career, and he would effectively be a player/coach for those young Mets teams. He would tie a record with eight consecutive pinch hits and 25 RBI by a pinch hitter. After his career, Staub had extensive charitable work helping first responders.

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Trivia Friday: Every MLB Teams Best Catcher

As we move along wondering which current catchers are going to receive the first pitches of the 2020 season, can you name the best catcher for each MLB franchise? Good luck!


Bob Boone Jason Castro Mickey Cochrane Ernie Whitt Brian McCann Jonathan Lucroy Yadier Molina Gabby Hartnett Miguel Montero Roy Campanella Buster Posey Carlos Santana Dan Wilson Charles Johnson Mike Piazza Gary Carter Chris Hoiles Gene Tenace Jack Clements Jason Kendall Ivan Rodriguez Toby Hall Carlton Fisk Johnny Bench Jeff Reed Darrell Porter Bill Freehan Sherm Lollar Yogi Berra

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 43 R.A. Dickey

When signing players to minor league deals, it is really a no risk proposition. Whether it is a veteran player on his last legs or a journeyman just seeking an opportunity, when done right, the player gets a chance to prove themselves. This is the story of R.A. Dickey with the New York Mets.

Dickey was one time first round pick of the Texas Rangers who had his prospective bonus slashed considerably when it was discovered he was born without a UCL in his right elbow. He would eventually make it to the majors, but he struggled mightily because he just didn’t have the stuff to succeed. As a result, he had made the attempt to convert to being a knuckleball pitcher.

For any pitcher that is a difficult conversion with many pitchers taking years to accomplish the task. Many don’t make it. For Dickey, he didn’t succeed enough to stick with the Rangers, Mariners, or Twins organization. Heading into the 2010 season, the best he could do was grab a minor league deal with the Mets. It proved to be the best thing for both sides.

By that point, Dickey had perfected throwing his knuckleball. It was a different one than the ones we had see with knuckleball pitchers of old. Dickey had a hard knuckleball which danced a little less, and he could control it more. Still, Dickey also had that fluttery one which many became accustomed. The ability to mix up that pitch on speed and locations made him a unique and difficult to hit pitcher.

In 2010, he quickly made his Mets debut, and he would stick in the rotation. In his first start, he picked up a no decision despite allowing just two earned over six innings. After that, he would win his first six decisions as a pitcher for the Mets. Overall, it was a great debut which was highlighted by his one hitting the Phillies in a complete game shutout.

The 2010 season was where he proved he deserved a chance. The 2011 season was where he proved he belonged. In that season, he had a losing record which reflected how bad the Mets were. However, his 112 ERA+ was reflective of his being a good pitcher. In 2012, he would become a great pitcher.

In 2012, Dickey would shock everyone not only by being an All-Star for the first time in his career, but the 37 year old would win the Cy Young Award over Clayton Kershaw. While it may seem strange to believe Dickey could be better than Kershaw, he was. In that 2012 season, he led the league in starts, complete games, shutouts, nnings, and strikeouts. He would also have a number of highlights like becoming the first ever Major League pitcher to record back-to-back one hitters with 10+ strikeouts:

Moreover, Dickey would become the first Mets pitcher to win 20 games since Frank Viola did it in 1990. He was the first Mets right-handed pitcher to accomplish the feat since David Cone did it in 1988. He was the first pitcher to have 20 wins with a sub .500 team since Roger Clemens did it in 1997 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was the first knuckleball pitcher to accomplish the feat since Joe Niekro in 1980. It was that special a season.

That 20th win was his penultimate start with the Mets. After that, the rebuilding Mets would trade him to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package which included Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. To that end, even though he didn’t get to pitch for a winner with the Mets, he would help the team build their next winner.

Overall, Dickey joins Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, and Jacob deGrom as the only Mets pitchers to win a Cy Young. He is fourth all-time in Mets history with a 2.95 ERA, and he has the fifth best WHIP. By ERA+, he is the third best starter of all-time. Ultimately, he is the Mets best knuckleball pitcher and best player to ever wear the number 43.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor

Simulated Recap: Velasquez Shuts Down Mets

Much like we’re seeing with Jacob deGrom, for one reason or another MLB The Show doesn’t have Marcus Stroman pitching to the level he does in real games. We saw that again today as he took the loss against the Phillies after allowing three runs over five innings.

The Mets offense amounted to a Michael Conforto solo homer off Vince Velasquez in the Mets 5-1 loss.