Curt Schilling Held To Inconsistently Applied Hall Of Fame Standard

When looking at Curt Schilling‘s career, the consensus seems to be his on-the-field performance merits induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, year-in and year-out he falls short.

The reason Schilling isn’t going to be inducted is Schilling. His post playing career has just been mired in controversy. In the end, it’s become too much for voters as evidenced by Sean Forman of Baseball Reference.

Voters who feel this way are well within their rights, and there is a specific clause in play which permits them to act upon their personal objections to Schilling’s behavior and statements

What’s curious is why Schilling faces the brunt of the character clause in a way others don’t.

Yes, that clause was been weaponized against PED users. That’s a large reason why Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and others haven’t been inducted. However, Bonds and Clemens haven’t been subjected to the character clause in the same way Schilling has.

Both Bonds and Clemens were charged with perjury related to their testimony regarding steroid use. While Clemens was initially cleared, it took Bonds two appeals to have his conviction overturned.

During his first marriage, Bonds was accused of abusing his wife, and there was “at least once during the marriage.”

Clemens has never been accused of abuse. However, he has had rumors of affairs. That includes an inappropriate relationship with a minor, which both sides attest did not grow to become physical until she was of age.

Moving in terms of Schilling territory, both Bonds and Clemens have their own issues.

Former MLB player Ron Kittle accused Bonds of saying, “I don’t sign for white people.” Bonds did categorically deny he said that. It must also be noted there have no been similar allegations against Bonds during his career.

On that note, Bonds was not popular with teammates or the media. Going back to college, Bonds was actually voted off his team. Given how many had an axe to grind against Bonds, and how unapologetically outspoken he’s been, if there was more, you’d imagine more people would’ve come forward.

With Bonds, you have unconfirmed accusations. To overlook those is certainly understandable. If a writer wants something more tangible or substantial before acting upon it, it’s understandable.

Clemens doesn’t face hearsay allegations like Bonds. We have statements made by Clemens. Specifically, Clemens made a crack the dry cleaners were all closed in Japan and South Korea during the World Baseball Classic. While some may want to equate that to a misunderstanding, there are other allegations.

Clemens is also a notorious head hunter who injured many players arguably intentionally. It’s something his future Yankees teammates griped about before Clemens joined their team. We know Clemens went so far as to throw a bat at Mike Piazza during the World Series.

There’s more with Clemens as well including his throwing food at a reporter over a story he didn’t appreciate. All in all, on and off the field, Clemens has done things which should invite writers to invoke the character clause against him.

Ultimately, writers are withholding votes from Schilling due to his actions and statements. However, they’re not doing the same with Clemens.

Remember, Clemens has injured players on the field, made racially charged remarks, and has had inappropriate relationships outside of his marriage. For those writers voting for him and not Schilling, they do need to offer an explanation how they find Clemens behavior acceptable and where exactly their line is.

James McCann Makes Sense For Mets Even At Four Years

In a vacuum, a four year deal for the 30 year old James McCann is a curious one. Essentially, the Mets are giving McCann a fairly long term contract deal off a career year.

If you’re doing that, you better believe his 2020 breakout is real. As has been well documented, it very well might be.

As broken down very well by Dilip Sridhar of MMO, much of McCann’s transformation was due to his working with Jerry Narron. This led to McCann altering his stance behind the plate helping him go from a very poor framer to becoming an elite framer in 2020.

In addition to the significantly improved defense, McCann has been steadily improving at the plate.

In each of the past three seasons, McCann’s exit velocities have improved. This coincides with an improved launch angle and barrel rate.

McCann has been increasingly hitting the ball harder and further, and he’s going it while walking more. Sure, he’s likely to regress from his 144 wRC+ for a few reasons, but that said, we can reasonably expect McCann to be an above average hitter.

That’s important because among catchers with at least 500 PA, there are only nine with at least a 100 wRC+. Nine in the entire sport. Not only is McCann one of them, but he’s also third overall.

In McCann, you’re getting a catcher in his prime who has put it all together. He’s become elite defensively and at the plate. Arguably, he’s one of the best catchers in the game.

Still, he’s not viewed as THE best. Routinely, that title is either bestowed upon Yasmani Grandal or J.T. Realmuto. Grandal is the catcher who has supplanted McCann in Chicago, and Realmuto is arguably the top free agent available this offseason. Certainly, Realmuto is the top catching target.

When you have a hole at catcher, and you have the deepest pockets in the game, you still have to wonder why the Mets are jumping the gun on McCann when Realmuto is out there.

There’s a number of very good reasons.

First and foremost, there’s no guarantee the Mets get Realmuto. It’s eminently possibly there is a bidding war for Realmuto and another team makes an offer the Mets don’t feel comfortable matching.

During this time, maybe another team has already swooped in to nab McCann. That leaves the Mets with a massively steep drop off to where they’re debating borderline starting options like Yadier Molina or Mike Zunino.

If you’re the Mets, you can’t put yourselves in that position. They need to do all they can to upgrade their catching position, and they can’t get flat footed where they’re stuck with Molina, Zunino, or even the return of Wilson Ramos.

It’s far better to act fast on McCann than being in a position to effectively get nothing or really overpay Realmuto.

In terms of Realmuto, there are issues. First and foremost, he had hip issues. That’s not something likely to improve now that he’s on the wrong side of 30.

Perhaps more of an obstacle than that is the price tag. There are rumors Realmuto is looking for a $200 million contract. Chances are Realmuto isn’t going to get that, but he may press for a $20+ million AAV.

Given his abilities at and behind the plate, he’s very likely well worth that. You can imagine there’s going to be at least one team willing to come close or surpass that.

Unfortunately, the Mets are not a team in position to do that. This is a team who still has a lot to do even assuming they’ve signed McCann.

The team still needs at least one other starter and another reliever. They also need a center fielder. In terms of center, George Springer appears to be the only truly viable option meaning the Mets will need to go that extra mile for him.

Cohen has deep pockets, but even he will have his limits. Keep in mind, that’s just this offseason. There’s still the matter of extensions for Michael Conforto, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard on the horizon as well as arbitration raises for much of their roster.

In the end, it’s better for the Mets to secure McCann now to ensure they get a significant upgrade at catcher than to lose out all together. We should also consider this could very well be part of a larger plan both for this year and the ensuing years.

For some, McCann may be disappointing, and they may still believe the Mets should’ve pushed for Realmuto. To that, we just need to see what happens. The key will be what Realmuto receives in free agency, and more importantly, what the Mets do from this point forward.

Regardless of where you land on this and what happens, one thing is abundantly clear – the Mets are significantly better with McCann than they were previously.

Archie Bradley May Not Be Reliever Mets Should Pursue

Perhaps the biggest name and surprise non-tender was Archie Bradley. After all, Bradley is coming off a great season in limited duty. Bradley was limited both by a shortened season and by a back injury.

In 2020, Bradley made 16 appearances. He was 2-0 with six saves, a 2.95 ERA, 1.091 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, and an 8.6 K/9. He also had a 2.59 FIP and a 163 ERA+. If you break it down, it is somewhat ridiculous Bradley would be non-tendered. That goes double when you consider his full career.

From 2017 – 2020, Bradley had a 2.95 ERA, 152 ERA+, 3.19 FIP, 1.197 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, and a 9.9 K/9. Those are excellent to elite numbers. However, those numbers only tell part of the story for Bradley.

Bradley broke out with an absurdly good 2017. In that year, Bradley was 3-3 with a 1.73 ERA, 1.041 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and a 9.7 K/9. So far, this season has been an anomaly in his career. Over his subsequent two seasons, Bradley had a 3.58 ERA, 1.291 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, and a 10.2 K/9. When looking at the advanced numbers, his ERA+ dropped from 273 to 122, and his FIP dropped from 2.61 to 3.56.

Essentially, Bradley went from a elite reliever to a very good one. Part of the reason was his 2017 season was very difficult to replicate. There are also factors where his .276 BABIP against and 88.2 LOB% were going to stabilize. We actually did see that happen the subsequent two seasons, and that is one of the reasons why his stats began to return to earth.

Another and perhaps more important reason is Bradley’s stuff has been in decline. In 2017, Bradley averaged 96.3 MPH with his fastball. He’s been gradually losing velocity to the point where he has lost two full MPH off his fastball. He’s also lost spin off of his fastball. He’s similarly lost MPH and spin off of his curveball which is his primary secondary offering.

Looking specifically at that curve, Bradley had very good vertical movement. That was part of the reason why he had a 26.7 Whiff% on the pitch. Again, those numbers have been in decline each and every year to the point where that Whiff% has dropped to 16.7 in 2020. That Whiff% was good in 2019, but that season is an outlier.

With Bradley, you see a pitcher who is losing velocity and spin. As a result, he is becoming more hittable. That is problematic for any pitcher, especially for a reliever.

Now, it is eminently possible Bradley returns to his 2019 form. After all, the 2020 season was unique, and we saw it impacted the way many players were able to train and prepare for the season. With a full offseason to prepare and with his getting further away from his back injury, Bradley could reasonably be expected to gain some of his lost MPH off his fastball.

Still, it is far from a guarantee, and it is notable he was losing MPH and spin off of all of his pitches prior to the 2020 season. This makes Bradley a bit of a gamble, and it may be a relatively expensive one. Looking at the Mets current bullpen, they are really ill suited to go looking for gambles like this.

The Mets already have Dellin Betances who is a gamble with his injury history and his own history of losing velocity and spin. The same goes for Brad Brach and Jeurys Familia. With those pitchers in the bullpen, the Mets need more reliable options much like the one they got when they signed Trevor May.

The team also could use a pitcher like a Brad Hand who could be effective against left-handed hitters. The left-handed reliever is of premium concern when the NL East has hitters like Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, and Freddie Freeman. Certainly, given the Mets heavy left-handed hitting roster, it would behoove them to grab the top left-handed relievers just to keep them away from their division.

All told, Bradley is a good reliever, but he is one who has been in decline. While you may believe he could return to form, this Mets bullpen is not constructed well enough to take on a gamble like that. With that being the case, the Mets should probably look towards one of the better relief options on the market, preferable a left-handed one like Hand.

David Dahl Not Good Fit For Mets Right Now

There were some surprising non-tenders this year with David Dahl perhaps being the most surprising. After mashing his first two full seasons with the Colorado Rockies, the organization was perhaps too reactionary to his having one poor season at the plate which was by and large due to Dahl’s dealing with a shoulder injury which would need surgery.

Now, if Dahl’s shoulder is more serious than many anticipated, you could understand the non-tender. That said, it’s difficult to imagine a more severe shoulder injury than the one Michael Conforto suffered, and he re-emerged to play at an All-Star, near MVP level in 2020. So, for all intents and purposes, we should reasonably anticipate Dahl returning to form at some point in 2021.

That form was very impressive. From 2018 – 2019, Dahl hit .291/.342/.528. Sure, that was partially driven by his playing in Coors Field. That said, Dahl did have an 111 OPS+ meaning he is a well above average hitter. As we have seen, the Coors Field effect is more home/away splits during the course of a season, and it is not something which should translate to moving to a new team.

That said, there are some splits which are at least moderately concerning with Dahl. The left-handed hitter has been neutralized by left-handed pitching in his career. While Dahl has a strong .289/.342/.515 batting line against right-handed pitching, he has only hit .277/.312/.438 against left-handed pitching. That right there is an indication he is a poor fit for the New York Mets.

Right now, the Mets corner outfielders are Brandon Nimmo and Conforto. While Dahl has been a strong hitter, he has not been the caliber of hitter either Nimmo or Conforto has been. Moreover, Nimmo and Conforto are left-handed hitters who have handled left-handed pitching better than Dahl. Taking that into account, Dahl would not be coming to the Mets to supplant either one of those players in the everyday lineup.

That is somewhat important because it would seem Dahl at least has the talent to be considered a starting outfielder by any number of teams. Even if he were to shirk a starting job elsewhere to consider the Mets, he probably still isn’t a fit as a fourth outfielder. He can’t be used to platoon with either Nimmo or Conforto as they are all left-handed hitters. He also should not be used as a defensive replacement.

In his career, Dahl has not been a particularly good defensive outfielder. In his career, he has a a -1 OAA and a -7 DRS in left field. Now, to be fair, with the thin air and large outfield, Rockies outfielders usually rate poorly in defensive metrics. Looking at his defense, he does have good sprint speed of roughly 28.1 feet/sec. That would put him roughly as fast as Nimmo and faster than Conforto.

Realistically speaking, with Nimmo and Conforto in the way, the Mets do not have a starting outfield spot to offer Dahl, and realistically speaking, he is a poor fit as a complement to those two. Now, you could argue the Mets could sign Dahl to be their primary DH. However, there are two significant obstacles.

First and foremost, the NL will not have a DH in 2021. As per the agreement, the universal DH sunsetted at the expiration of the 2020 season. Even if it were to be re-adopted, the Mets have Pete Alonso already slated to be the DH with Dominic Smith taking over first base duties.

All told, every which angle you look at this, the Mets simply do not have a position to offer Dahl. At best, they can offer him a bench role for a very left-handed hitting team. Unless there is a trade or two, the Mets are better suited to setting their sights to one of the other available non-tendered players or other free agents.

Mets Keeping Robert Gsellman Extremely Smart Move

It was a mild surprise the Mets tendered Robert Gsellman a contract. The expectation was after his having a horrendous 2020, the Mets would part ways with the pitcher.

In 2020, Gsellman was injured again. When he did pitch, he had a 9.64 ERA in four starts and two relief appearances. That was good for a 45 ERA+ and 7.55 FIP.

That was the low point for Gsellman’s career. That said, he hasn’t been a very good pitcher. Since his electric MLB debut in 2016, he has been well below average. In fact, from 2017 – 2019, he had a 84 ERA+ and a 4.42 FIP.

While this isn’t all that good, it should be noted this was mostly when Gsellman was a reliever. As a starter, he showed more promise. Seeing if Gsellman can be a full time starter is good reason to keep him.

That goes double when you realize the Mets farm system is bereft of MLB ready starters in their farm system.

Corey Oswalt was arguably that, but he’s out of options. Franklyn Kilome completely failed in his audition, and in all likelihood, he didn’t project to stick as a starter anyway. As such, the Mets were really stuck trying to find Triple-A starters to give the team real depth.

With Gsellman having two options remaining, he is perfectly suited to provide that to the team.

Gsellman can be Syracuse’s Opening Day starter, and he can show the Mets how he may be better suited to the rotation. If he does prove that, he can be called up to make some starts when the Mets inevitably need a starter next year.

If he falters, he is still capable bullpen depth for the Mets. With his being stretched out, he could prove to be a long man in the pen at some point.

What Gsellman provides is depth and options. This front office was smart to see it, and at a price around $1.5 million, it’s a no brainer.

Keeping Gsellman is one of those moves that is unheralded. However, it is one of those moves which can truly make a difference over the course of a season. Make no mistake, any pitcher the Mets would sign to take Gsellman’s current role would likely not have anywhere near the success Gsellman can have.

That can help save the pitching staff here or there, and it can help the Mets pick up a win or two. These things matter, and to that end, Gsellman can still provide an important role next year and make a real difference.

Marcus Stroman, Trevor May Phenomenal Start To Mets Offseason

With the state Brodie Van Wagenen left the Mets, this was an organization in desperate need for pitching. On that front, the Mets under Sandy Alderson’s competent leadership, the team is off to a great start.

Of course, the Mets were helped by Marcus Stroman accepting the qualifying offer. When Stroman did that, he gave the Mets a real solid number two behind Jacob deGrom.

Yes, Stroman is that. From 2014-2019, Stroman is in the top 30 in WAR and top 40 in FIP. There’s other ways to quantify, but this firmly establishes him as a clear cut number two.

Stroman is only part of the solution. Beyond him, the Mets still need to build the rest of their pitching staff. On that note, the Mets just signed Trevor May. Simply put, that was a great move.

May has been one of the best relievers in baseball. Over the last three years, he ranks 12th among all relievers in K% and 13th in K/BB%. His 3.24 WPA ranks 22nd among relievers in this time frame.

Over that time frame, May is 10-4 with a 3.19 ERA, 1.080 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 12.0 K/9. He also has a 3.56 FIP and 140 ERA+.

This is a process helped along by his working with Jeremy Hefner. The two worked well together in Minnesota, and they promise to do so again in New York.

This is the type of reliever you can plug into the eighth inning in front of Edwin Diaz. With those two innings fully accounted for, Seth Lugo can be better unleashed as the weapon he can be out of the bullpen.

This singular signing moves the Mets bullpen from giant question mark towards solid to reliable. This is exactly how to start building your team.

That’s an important note too. Unlike prior years with the Wilpons, this is the start, not the finish. Typically, May would be the coda to the Mets free agent shopping, not the salvo.

Right now, the Mets have Stroman and May. That significantly improves the 2021 roster. It’s just a start, but it’s a fantastic one at that. Seeing how Alderson has begun, we should be excited for the next move.

Willie Randolph, Not Carlos Beltran For Mets Bench Coach

One of the hopes Mets fans have with Steve Cohen taking the helm is his new regime correcting a lot of the wrongs committed by the Wilpons. There are countless examples of how poorly the Wilpons treated their former players, and that gives Cohen a real chance to seem magnanimous.

One area where he’s already planning to do this is an Old Timer’s Day. Another area Mets fans want to do this is by bringing Carlos Beltran back to the organization.

With Hensley Meulens not returning as bench coach, many fans see this as the opportunity to bring back Beltran as bench coach. Realistically speaking, Beltran is the worst possible choice for this job.

The modern bench coach job is very complicated. As a result, of all the jobs on the coaching staff, manager included, bench coach is the single job where you absolutely cannot have a novice like Beltran in charge.

As Brad Mills explained to the Sporting News, “You work with everyone from the groundskeepers to the traveling secretary, and you might even make sure the field is ready for early work.” Put another way, the bench coach has to make sure all the planning and preparation for the game is completed.

The bench coach is handling scouting and game prep. He’s running quality control before and during the game. He’s discussing strategy with the manager. He’s fostering relationships with players. He has his hands in everything. As was the case with Derek Shelton and Rocco Baldelli, that included media responsibilities.

With Beltran never having worked on an MLB coaching staff at any level, and with his front office experience having been just one year, he is ill-suited for the job. Very ill suited.

While you can understand Mets fans wanting to repair the relationship with Beltran, this isn’t the time or the job. However, just because the Mets shouldn’t use this opportunity to right a wrong with Beltran, it doesn’t mean they can’t hire a bench coach who can simultaneously right a wrong.

The Mets could very well look to hire Willie Randolph for their vacant bench coach position.

Randolph has the fifth most wins by a Mets manager, and he has the second best winning percentage. In his time as manager, he did a lot of good things including helping David Wright and Jose Reyes reach their full potential.

In addition to his successes as a Mets manager, he was on Joe Torre‘s coaching staff for the last Yankees dynasty. That includes his being a bench coach. Randolph has also been a bench coach in Milwaukee and Baltimore.

All told, Randolph knows the role extraordinarily well. He also knows the challenges Luis Rojas faces as the Mets manager. He knows how to develop players and handle a coaching staff. He knows how to win in New York, and he knows the intense scrutiny a manager faces.

If the 66 year old Randolph is interested in the position, the Mets should interview him for the role. If Rojas has a comfort level with him, Randolph should absolutely be hired for the job.

With that, the Mets will hire an exceptionally qualified person for the job thereby making the Mets a better team. It will also have the benefit of righting the wrong of how he was fired in 2008.

Ultimately, if the Mets want to right some wrongs, they should hire Randolph. If they want the best man for the job, they should hire Randolph. He’s just the perfect fit for this job right now.

Tim Tebow Prepares As Broncos Played Without QB Due To COVID19

Well, due to COVID19, the Denver Broncos were forced to play a game today without a QB. Instead, they took an undrafted WR off their practice squad, and they had him start at QB.

The Broncos predictively lost. It was a 31-3 loss as that undrafted WR, Kendall Hinton, was 1/9 for 13 yards and two picks.

Presumably, the Broncos turned over every stone to try to get the win. At some point, you wonder if they called Tim Tebow. It would make sense for them to have done it with Tebow being a former QB, and the QB staying in shape as Tebow tries to become a Major League Baseball player.

On that front, Tebow seems no closer to reaching that goal. He’s dealt with injuries the last few years, and he only hit .163/.240/.255 in 77 Triple-A games last year.

With his production and lack of progress, the Mets understandably did not protect Tebow from the Rule 5 Draft. There’s no reason to believe the 33 year old will get drafted. There’s perhaps less reason to believe Tebow will ever reach the majors.

There’s reasons why Tebow won’t make it to the majors. There is a question of his dedication with his scheduling events during Spring Training and his SEC broadcast work. Mostly, he was just away from baseball too long while he dedicated his life to being an NFL QB.

Maybe ironically, that chance presented itself. We don’t know if the Broncos or Tebow reached out to make that happen. What we do know is Tebow wasn’t a QB on Sunday, and Tebow is not doing enough to play in the MLB in 2021 on any Sunday.

Phillies Not Attempting To Re-Sign J.T. Realmuto Is Ludicrous

There are several reasons you could justify not pursuing J.T. Realmuto. Those reasons are Yasmani Grandal, Christian Vazquez, Mitch Garver, Travis d’Arnaud, Roberto Perez, etc.

Put another way, if you’re not at least pursuing Realmuto, you better have a bona fide starting catcher behind the plate. Short of that, the discussion why you’re not pursuing Realmuto faces scrutiny.

Yes, you can reasonably prefer James McCann. That goes double if you’re understandably leery of giving a soon to be 30 year old catcher a big contract. A team could determine they have more pressing holes, and/or they need to allocate their money differently to build a more complete roster.

Still, you have to at least inquire on Realmuto. He’s the best catcher available, and he’s arguably the best player available on the free agent market.

If you don’t have a set starting catcher, you need to talk to Realmuto. That includes the Phillies who gave up an impressive Sixto Sanchez to obtain him.

But no, the Phillies aren’t pursuing him. Instead, they’re going to claim they’re too broke to try to sign him. Other teams are claiming the same. They’ll claim broke and no revenues despite MLB signing a billion dollar TV contract.

That’s in addition to local broadcasting and advertising revenues.

But for some reason, teams want us to believe there’s no money to spend. As a result, they won’t pursue players who can improve their team, and in turn, increase interest and revenues for their team.

That’s fine. Teams like the Phillies who once claimed they’d stupid money to win can cry poor while Steve Cohen judiciously spends to get the players the Mets need to win. Thanks to the Phillies, there’s once less suitor to drive up Realmuto’s price tag.

Mets Fans Are Thankful For Steve Cohen

After nearly 20 years of the Wilpons, Mets fans finally have an owner who gets it. Steve Cohen is one of us, and just like us, he wants the Mets to win.

Instead of building an homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers, he’s bringing back Old Timers Day.

Instead of letting rumors fester and worsen, he and Sandy Alderson called a press conference to address the status of the team.

Instead of shopping for a group of ill fitting and cheap free agents, the Mets are looking at the top of the free agent and trade markets.

Instead of a former agent miscast as a GM, Sandy Alderson, a baseball legend in his own right, is in charge.

Instead of being laughingstocks, the Mets are now feared and respected.

So, this Thanksgiving, Mets fans are mostly thankful for Steve Cohen as he embarks on an era of Mets baseball which we all help will rival (or better yet surpass) the Nelson Doubleday/Frank Cashen led Mets teams.

Happy Thanksgiving!