Musings

Cleveland Indians Placing Brad Hand On Outright Waivers Completely Inexcusable

At the 2018 trade deadline, the Cleveland Indians sought to bolster their bullpen. They made the bold decision to trade Francisco Mejia, one of the best prospects in the game, for a pair of relievers in Adam Cimber and Brad Hand.

For his part, Hand has been fantastic for the Indians. Since joining his new team, Hand is 8-6 with 58 saves, a 2.78 ERA, 1.121 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, and a 13.0 K/9. Honestly, you cannot ask for more from a reliever over the course of 2.5 seasons.

In fact, since the date of that trade, Hand leads the majors in saves. By WAR, he’s been the seventh best reliever in all of baseball. By FIP and K/9, he ranks sixth.

Arguably, this makes him the best pure closet in baseball. If not the best, he’s certainly in the top 5-10. All told, Hand has flat out been a GREAT reliever. Each and every MLB team would be lucky to have him, and at a $10 million team option, he’s a relative bargain.

The Indians didn’t see it that way. All they saw was $10 million being too big for their budget. Worse yet, rather than decline his option and buy him out for $1 million, they put him on waivers. As a result, they now don’t even have to pay him that buy out.

This makes waiving Hand a completely dishonest move made completely in bad faith. If they don’t want him, pay the $1 million. That’s what you agreed to do when you took on that contract.

More than this being bad faith, it’s just plain incompetent. Assuredly, the other 29 teams would’ve had interest in Hand. Someone would have opted to make a trade for him.

More than that, for a team looking to also trade Francisco Lindor or really any player making anything more than $1 million, they could’ve included Hand in that deal to maximize their return. Every which way you look at this, there’s no defending this bizarre and just plain dumb decision.

Looking forward, why not wait for Steve Cohen to officially take over the Mets. It’s likely you could’ve received something in return for Hand while still getting the salary relief. Why not see how much he’s willing to spend instead of just now giving him free reign to grab Hand in the off chance he clears waivers?

As an aside, that’s part of the problem with what Mayor Bill De Blasio is pulling. Understandably, with Cohen not yet having full authorization and the previous deal having fallen apart, you can understand why he and the Wilpons are a little gun shy giving the go-ahead on making moves like these.

In any event, the Indians waiving Hand is bad for baseball. Postseason teams don’t get rid of proven closers for no return. That coupled with the Braves declining Darren O’Day‘s option and the Cardinals doing the same with Kolten Wong is a very bad harbinger for the next CBA talks.

In the end, there is nothing good about the Indians waiving Hand. It is a bad faith and incompetent decision. For the Mets and Cohen, you can only hope he’s approved in time to maximize on all the horrendous penny wise-pound foolish decisions MLB teams already seem to be making.

MLB Has No Right To Suspend Or Fine Justin Turner

Looking at MLB’s statement on Justin Turner going on the field to celebrate the World Series, it seems like it’s primed to suspend or fine him. Well, based on their previous inactions, MLB has no right to single out Turner here.

The first known break from COVID19 protocols was Carlos Correa. After Joe Kelly threw up and him to him, Correa started a benches clearing incident. The entire altercation was in violation of MLB protocols, and yet Correa was not fined or suspended for his actions.

Perhaps the most egregious example was Don Mattingly and the Miami Marlins. Miami was a hot spot for the pandemic, and the Marlins knew they had teammates test positive. Rather than follow protocols, they held a team vote and decided to play. This shut down the Marlins and Phillies season for a week, and it was nearly catastrophic to the ability to have this truncated 2020 season.

Neither Mattingly nor the players were fined or suspended for their actions.

You can go further than this. The players didn’t wear masks or maintain social distancing in the dugouts. They threw the ball around the horn. Not everyone adhered to the COVID19 protocols. Essentially, following the season, the protocols were merely weak suggestions.

That was readily apparent when Turner was allowed to play in Game 6 of the World Series despite his first having an inconclusive test. Then, after there was a positive test result discovered in the second inning, Turner was allowed to play through the seventh.

That makes no mention of the fact COVID19 test results are supposed to be anonymous. Despite that, it was widely and immediately published Turner had tested positive.

Now, despite MLB not enforcing any protocols and their failing to take any action on the most egregious of violations, they’re going to throw the book at Turner? The very same Turner they let play in the game and enter the ballpark against their own protocols?

That’s completely and utterly ridiculous and purely reactionary. No, MLB lost the opportunity and the right to penalize Turner when they looked the way on each and every violation which happened during the course of the season.

Blame MLB For Justin Turner Being On The Field Celebrating

Before Game 6 of the World Series, Justin Turner had an inconclusive COVID19 test. Instead of insisting he pass a test before being allowed to be at Globe Life Field, MLB permitted Turner to play in Game 6.

Turner showed up at the ballpark, and he did his pregame routine. He was in the dugout and on the field without a mask. Even with the COVID19 test pending, MLB did not mandate Turner wear a mask. Even if they did, their efforts were completely ineffective.

The test results confirming Turner tested positive for COVID19 came during the second inning. Despite having that information, MLB permitted Turner to play through the seventh inning. It was not until the top of the eighth that he was removed from the game.

In that time, Turner had three plate appearances. The ball went around the horn after seven strikeouts. Turner made two defensive plays. He was in the dugout and on the field without a mask.

By that time, the damage was quite possibly already done. And that’s just what we know from seeing him play in the game. We also don’t know what contact he had with Dodgers players and personnel before Game 6.

Somehow despite Turner being in the MLB bubble, he contracted COVID19. After there was suspicion of his being infected, MLB did NOTHING to prevent him from spreading it. In fact, even knowing about the risk of potentially spreading the disease, he was allowed in that ballpark to play in that game.

Was Turner selfish for going out to celebrate with his teammates with the full knowledge he was infected? Absolutely. There is no debating that.

However, he already had more than enough contact with the Dodgers to spread COVID19 before that celebration. The reason why that was possible was MLB let him play and then took their time before removing him from the game. And aside from that, MLB personnel and security completely failed to remove Turner from the ballpark.

So, in the end, if you want to blame anyone, you first need to blame MLB for knowingly exposing players, coaches, and umpires to COVID19. After that, we can and should discuss Turner’s own actions.

Justin Turner Tests Positive For COVID19 While Winning World Series

Well, if you were looking for the perfect way to cap off the 2020 baseball season and this entire year, MLB just gave it to you. Justin Turner was removed from Game 6 of the World Series because he tested positive for COVID19.

Apparently, Turner was allowed to play despite an inconclusive test necessitating this test. Somehow, it then took seven innings to relay the information from the lab to the Dodgers.

In the year 2020, it’s beyond shocking it took that long. With everyone having a phone on them at all times, everyone is always reachable. Getting the info to the Dodgers by even the fourth inning was too late.

Beyond that, there’s the question as to how Turner could’ve become infected when MLB purportedly created a bubble for the World Series. If so, that clearly didn’t work.

Whatever the case, MLB let Turner play despite the absence of a negative test result. They also let him play nearly seven innings after finding out he tested positive.

This put his teammates and the Rays, especially Mike Zunino, at risk of infection. That’s something to think about as the Dodgers players celebrating on the field with their families.

Turner playing and being lifted seven innings after the diagnosis is a complete and utter failure by MLB. In many ways, that’s the perfect way to cap off this 2020 season.

And yes, this was a complete failure. Proof positive of that isn’t just Turner playing. No, it’s his going out there and celebrating the victory.

Regardless, congratulations to the Dodgers and hopefully a quick recovery for Turner.

Jeff Wilpon Says Goodbye To New York Mets As Fans Say Good Riddance

According to reports, Jeff Wilpon has a Zoom call to say goodbye to New York Mets employees. Other reports confirmed he will not be seeking a role with the Steve Cohen led Mets even with his team holding onto a small minority ownership.

While he says goodbye, Mets fans say good riddance.

Everything that is wrong with the Mets is in large part due to him, and with him gone, he know stories will soon leak out about how he was even worse than what we already knew.

We already know they failed to capitalize on two pennants. In 2000, it was letting Mike Hampton walk, refusing to sign Alex Rodriguez, and then following that up with actually signing Kevin Appier and Steve Trachsel.

In 2015, it was not re-signing Daniel Murphy. Also, if not for a miracle, they would’ve replaced Yoenis Cespedes with Alejandro De Aza.

There was forcing players like Pedro Martinez to pitch through injuries which everyone said should’ve shut down his season, and there was the attempts to try to prevent Carlos Beltran from getting career saving knee surgery.

There was not just signing Jose Reyes, but also holding him out as a role model. Better yet, around the same time, Ed Kranepool needed a kidney transplant only for pettiness to stop the Mets from initially reaching out to help (thankfully they eventually did).

Speaking of Mets greats, there is still no Tom Seaver statue at Citi Field, and now Tom Terrific is gone. Even when the Wilpons did think to finally act, they did it when Seaver had dementia and couldn’t enjoy the honors.

There was firing an unwed pregnant woman and really so much more. With actions like this, not only did Jeff Wilpon fail as a person in charge of building a winner, he disgraced the Mets organization.

Speaking of disgrace, the way the Mets got rid of people was deplorable. No one was allowed to keep their dignity. Willie Randolph was fired one game into a west coast trip and after the Mets won. Instead admitting they didn’t want to pay them fair value Justin Turner had his professionalism questioned and Wilmer Flores was said to have an arthritic condition he didn’t have.

Hopefully, Jeff Wilpon will be afforded the very same treatment he gave others when they left the Mets. It would only be fitting, and it would give Mets fans more reason to celebrate his being gone.

Mets Running Out Of Time To Extend Marcus Stroman

We can all reasonably debate whether Marcus Stroman or Trevor Bauer is better. There are arguments to be made for either pitcher, and on that front, we should all be able to agree to disagree while waiting for the next few years to play out.

However, one area where Mets fans should be unanimous is extending Stroman before he hits the free agent market.

Looking at the Mets 2021 rotation, only Jacob deGrom is a sure thing. After him, David Peterson earned a spot. From there, your guess is as good as anyone, especially with the Mets having to make a critical decision on Steven Matz.

That’s 2-3/5 of a rotation to fill. Beyond Stroman and Bauer, the market has a lot of question marks. It’s one thing to take a shot on Rick Porcello again or signing a Kevin Gausman. It’s a whole other thing to sign both and count on them leading you back to the postseason.

No, if you’re the Mets, you need another top flight starter to pair with deGrom. We know Stroman has been that in his career. We also know he can handle New York.

Getting Stroman signed now allows the Mets to have less uncertainty entering the postseason. It ensures a strong rotation for the 2021 season. It allows them to focus on other areas of their team which needs upgrades and improvements. It’s also gives the Mets a chance to be a little creative.

The problem is with Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers winning last night, they’re one game away from winning the World Series. As it stands, the World Series either ends tomorrow or Wednesday. Five days after that, free agency begins.

This gives the Mets a little less than a week to extend Stroman much in the way the Mets once did with Mike Piazza. That’s not to say Stroman is a future Hall of Famer like Piazza. Rather, it illustrates if you give a player what they want in a deal, they’ll happily agree to stay.

Certainly, Stroman is a native New Yorker who has enjoyed pitching in New York. It’s now time to take advantage of that and Steve Cohen’s deep pockets and keep him in New York.

If they don’t, the Mets rotation in 2021 could look even worse than it did this year. Certainly, that’s not how anyone wants the Cohen era to begin. With that being the case, get to work and sign Stroman.

Game 4 of 2020 World Series Is Why Baseball Is Great

Brett Phillips, a .202 career hitter who is little more than a defensive specialist, got a hit with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers all-time leader in saves.

Not only did Kevin Kiermaier score the tying run, but due to a bizarre turn of events involving Chris Taylor booting a ball, Max Muncy throwing the ball slightly off line on the relay, and Will Smith whiffing on the catch to make a swipe tag to tag out a runner who wasn’t there, the Rays won the game in improbable fashion.

That run was scored by Randy Arozarena, who ran down the line, fell, and dove back to home plate on the play.

Arozarena lost his father when he was 15, and at the age of 19, he got on a raft across the Gulf of Mexico to defect from Cuba. He arrived safely in Mexico where he played baseball until he was signed by the Cardinals.

He was traded to the Rays this offseason, but his season got off to a late start as he battled COVID19. He’s now tied for the most homers in a postseason, the ALCS MVP, and he just scored one of the most improbable runs in World Series history on a play which will be replayed for ever.

No sport can match either the drama this game provided or the combining of improbable heroes from places around the globe.

Nothing is better than baseball.

Give It Up A-Rod, It’s Steve Cohen’s Mets

Facts are facts. Steve Cohen has more money than anyone who was interested in purchasing the Mets. Despite that, Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez are doing all they can to strike down the deal which will continue on a track towards approval.

First, it was reported A-Rod’s and J-Lo’s purchasing group would be willing to match Cohen’s purchase price in the event Cohen’s deal could not be consummated. After that, a strange onslaught began.

One of the pushes made has been to paint Cohen as a misogynist who is a borderline crook, and is therefore unfit to own an MLB team. Instead, MLB should be looking to lift up minority and female ownership like Lopez.

Of course, their pushing part of this narrative forward completely overlooks the original owner of the Mets was a pioneer in Joan Payson. She was the first woman in professional sports to own an expansion franchise and then lead that franchise to a World Series.

But, that doesn’t fit the narrative, which is all the A-Rod group is pushing now. Narrative.

We’ve heard A-Rod move off of a salary cap to help his cause with Commissioner Rob Manfred to saying he would increase the Mets payroll to $225 million.

There are reports now circulating Mayor Bill DeBlasio may not permit the sale to go forward due to Cohen’s SEC problems. Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News did a fine breakdown on why some of the rumors are unfounded, but she honestly fell short of a complete debunking.

Look, for every pushing of the narrative Cohen is unfit to own the Mets, there is an equally problematic door for the A-Rod group. Remember, A-Rod has his own issues related to Biogenesis, and that’s not to mention what some of his co-investors have said or done.

Of course, we don’t have to delve deep into any of this because all A-Rod and J-Lo are doing is making noise. This is their Hail Mary attempt to get the Mets.

Much like when A-Rod slapped Bronson Arroyo‘s glove, these last ditch attempts will be futile, and he’s leaving behind a record for everyone to look at and mock for years to come. Much like the 2003 ALCS, this will end in an embarrassing failure for A-Rod.

No matter how much A-Rod whines and tries, this will be Steve Cohen’s Mets. It’s time for him to give up and look to purchase another team.

Trevor Bauer’s Breakout 2020 Makes Him A Very Risky Free Agent

There has been suspicions about Trevor Bauer‘s 2020 season as it comes to spin rate and its impact upon his success. That’s not the only reason to be suspect about his 2020 season.

In terms of teams looking to potentially sign him as a free agent, Bauer’s 2020 season was suspect because it was a complete outlier from the rest of his career.

From his first full season in 2014 until last year, Bauer was 68-56 with a 3.99 ERA, 1.285 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, and a 9.6 K/9. Overall, he had a 111 ERA+ and a 3.85 FIP.

Breaking those seasons down a little further, he twice had a sub 100 ERA+. He twice had a 106 ERA+ and once had a 109 ERA+. In all but one of his seasons, his FIP ranged from 3.88 to 4.34.

From that, we see much of Bauer’s career stats were buttressed by a big 2018. In that season, Bauer was 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA, 1.089 WHIP, 2.9 K/9, and an 11.3 K/9. Overall, he was a 196 ERA+ and a league leading 2.04 FIP.

For a moment, it did seem like he was going to build off that season. Prior to his being traded to the Reds, he had a 126 ERA+ and a 4.15 FIP. This progression was shaping to easily be his second best season as a starter.

His season tailed off from there. With the Reds in 2019, he had a 73 ERA+ and a 4.85 FIP. There are many reasons to explain this drop off including small sample sizes, adjusting to a new team and league, and much more.

Looking at his career, no one should’ve anticipated Bauer’s breakout 2020 season. Essentially, he had gone from a slightly better than average pitcher to a real bona fide Cy Young level pitcher.

Over 11 starts, Bauer was 5-4 with a 1.74 ERA, 0.795 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, and a 12.3 K/9. Overall, he’d lead the league in ERA, and he’d have a league leading 276 ERA+. He also had a 2.88 FIP.

Of note, entering 2020, he had averaged just under 6.0 innings per start. In 2020, he averaged 6.2 innings per start.

Part of the reason for that could be the shortened season. In 2020, Bauer made 11 starts, which is one-third of the workload of your normal 162 game season. That presented a rare opportunity for starters to go out there and let it fly.

Another issue is the level of competition he faced. Aside from the Chicago White Sox, every lineup Bauer faced this year was in the bottom third in the majors in terms of offense.

Like the good pitcher he is and has always been, he went out there and beat the bad teams. In fact, he dominated them. Honestly, that should come as a big surprise to no one.

All this does is present a challenge for teams looking to sign him. Going to his Baseball Savant page, Bauer’s spin numbers were off the charts. They were a substantial improvement from last season.

We saw that reflected in his high strikeout totals despite Bauer having lower velocity numbers. This shows just how effectively and smart Bauer pitched this year.

The question now is why. Was Bauer able to put extra spin knowing he had just 11 starts, and he wouldn’t need to hold something back to survive the rigors of a 162 game season? Was he using foreign substances like people are widely suspecting? Or did Bauer just figure something out?

On the latter, Derek Johnson is a very well regarded pitching coach. Mets fans are somewhat familiar with him due to his work with Matt Harvey. Johnson briefly reclamated Harvey’s career after the trade. Unfortunately, Harvey has not been able to sustain success since leaving Cincinnati.

To his credit, Bauer appears to be a pitcher always working on his craft and searching for new ways to improve. He’s clearly bought in on analytics, and he’s looking to see how he can use it and other means to be the best pitcher he can be.

What this all boils down to is Bauer is a pitcher who turns 30 before Spring Training next year, and he’s a free agent.

Teams looking to sign him have to decide if Bauer has truly found something, and now, he’s having a career renaissance similar to what we saw Jacob deGrom have at the same age. They also need to decide whether this was a career year which resulted from this being a short season and his facing just terrible offensive teams.

Ultimately, that’s the risk associated with signing Bauer. You just don’t know if you’re giving big money to a guy who had an unrepeatable career year or if you’re getting a bargain for a pitcher about to become a perennial Cy Young contender.

World Series Reminding Us Justin Turner Could Be Mets 2021 Third Base Option

The 2020 season only confirmed J.D. Davis isn’t an everyday player because he can’t field at all. With that being the case, the Mets need to find a new third baseman this offseason.

The first option could be Jeff McNeil, who was actually the Opening Day third baseman the past two years. The issue with him is despite his arm. His throws were erratic, which gives you pause before giving him the third base job.

With their being questions about whether Robinson Cano would be willing or able to move to third, that leaves the Mets looking outside the organization for a third base option.

There may be options on the trade market like Nolan Arenado, but with Brodie Van Wagenen needlessly stripping the farm of its best players, that’s much easier said than done. That probably leaves the free agent market where one name stands out above the rest.

Justin Turner.

We all know the idiocy and cheapness which led to Turner being non-tendered by the Mets. With the Wilpons gone, Steve Cohen can look to right this wrong and bring Turner back to Queens. As we saw last night, Turner can still play.

In 2020, Turner had a poor -2 OAA rating. However, in the preceding year, he was a very good 4 OAA. Looking at his OAA on the whole, he’s been alternating good and bad seasons.

DRS paints a slightly different picture. From 2014 – 2018, Turner was a very good defensive third baseman. However, in the past two years there has been a drop off with him posting consecutive negative DRS seasons.

Taking the bigger picture, we see a player still capable of handling the position.

At the plate, Turner is still a very good hitter with a 140 wRC+. That’s an improvement over his 132 in 2019. Looking at his Baseball Savant stats, Turner posted very good to elite numbers in barrels, hard hit rates, and whiff percentage.

Overall, even at 35, Turner has remained a very good baseball player.

That’s somewhat of a problem. He’s 35, and he will soon turn 36 after the World Series. While his stats over the past few years indicate he could be a good bet in 2021, time and again, we have seen players in their late 30s lose it overnight.

With Turner, we may also see a player who may want to retire or just stay close to home. That would certainly be understandable. However, if he’s truly available and willing to return, the Mets should pounce.

Turner is in the unique position of entering the clubhouse as a guy who dealt with the ups and downs of New York. On that note, he can certainly help the young Mets core along the way.

Another thing Turner presents is he’s coming from the Dodgers. Fact is, the Dodgers do things better than everyone, maybe even the Rays. Turner knows exactly what the Mets don’t know.

Remember the Mets aren’t just trying to win the 2021 World Series. No, they’re going through with a complete organization overhaul. They’re trying to build a team who can compete each and every year just like the Dodgers.

The Dodgers just don’t have the most talent on the field or the deepest pockets. They also have access to the best analytics and technology. They know things no one knows.

With Turner being there from the beginning of this Dodgers regime, he also knows all of the information disseminated to players. He knows what’s worked, what hasn’t, and the best way to communicate the information to players.

No, he doesn’t know how the information was tabulated and analyzed. However, he knows it exists, and knowing the information exists really helps your organization seek it out. After all, you can’t look for something without knowing that something exists.

In the end, Turner on a short term deal solves the Mets 2021 third base issues. More than that, he helps your organization in their process of an analytical overhaul. All told, from a Mets perspective, Turner could be the most important free agent available on the market. As such, they should very seriously consider bringing him back to Queens.