Musings

MLB Should Be Doing More To Celebrate The 100th Anniversary of the Negro Leagues

There are a number of reasons why it was overlooked, but MLB‘s announcement of a joint $1 million donation with the MLBPA to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and every team wearing a uniform patch honoring the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro Leagues on June 27 was overlooked. Worse than being overlooked, it is not enough.

Major League Baseball owed the Negro Leagues a debt of gratitude for producing players like Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. They also owe players like Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell an apology for never being able to prove they were the greatest on the biggest stage in the world.

In baseball history, the Negro Leagues are both a source of pride and shame. The pride comes from their proving anyone, no matter their background, race, or heritage, can be great at baseball. The shame is that another league needed to be created to prove this because of the disturbingly named “Gentleman’s Agreement” to keep black players out of baseball.

Because of that decision, we missed out on seeing the great careers of many black players. We did not get to see Satchel Paige face batters in a Major League Game until he was 41 years old. Think about that. At a time when he should have been retiring, he was just a rookie. All because of the agreement to keep black players out of baseball.

With that decision, not only did the black players lose, but we, as fans, and historians of the game lost. Much like we ponder how Pedro Martinez would have fared against players like Lou Gehrig, we are left to wonder how Smokey Joe Williams would have fared against Babe Ruth.

The obvious difference between the two were Williams and Ruth were contemporaries. They should have faced each other in a game, or quite possibly, have been teammates. However, they couldn’t because of small minded people. That necessitated the creation of the Negro Leagues, and for that, we should eternally grateful for the Negro Leagues as they kept baseball alive in the black community.

For a number of reasons, that is something baseball is struggling to do. For years now, baseball has tried to regrow the game in the black community, and it bemoans how few black players there are. Last year, USA Today noted only 7.7% of players were black, there were 11 teams who did not have more than one black player, and three teams who dd not have one black player.

One of those three teams was Jackie Robinson’s Dodgers. Of course, that does overlook their manager, Dave Roberts, and that has changed with the Dodgers obtaining Mookie Betts and David Price from the Boston Red Sox.

Perhaps the next time MLB questions why there are so few fans, they should focus their attention to what they are doing to drive interest in the game. Better put, they should focus on what they are not doing.

This year, they are not doing all they can do to honor the Negro Leagues. The Negro Leagues are an extremely important part of baseball history. In the centennial celebration of the founding of the Negro Leagues, Major League Baseball needed to do more than Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, and Negro Leagues Day on June 27.

This needs to be a year-round celebration. If it wasn’t already planned, MLB should make a push to promote and celebrate players like Betts, Price, Marcus Stroman, and many more players. In addition to donating $1 million the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, they should be hiring former players like Curtis Granderson to find ways to reach out and grow the game.

After all, Granderson has done his part to help grow the game through his charitable endeavors. In fact, he helped build Illinois’ baseball stadium, which is used not just for the college’s baseball team but also for youth events.

The 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues should be celebrated and used as an opportunity to grow the game. It demanded much more than $1 million, which is a paltry sum from MLB and the MLBPA, and more than just a day. This should be a year long celebration with patches appearing on the jerseys of every Major League team throughout the season.

This isn’t just an opportunity to honor and frankly apologize to baseball legends. No, it is also an opportunity to educate and grow the game. By not investing more in the Negro Leagues memory, using this as a launching pad to invest more in the game at the youth level, and not honoring these players all year long, baseball is missing an opportunity here.

Baseball needs to be better and do better. In that sense, perhaps that is the best way to remember the Negro Leagues because it would never have existed in the first place if people were better and strived to do better.

Steven Matz Should Be Guaranteed A Rotation Spot

With the New York Mets signing Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha this offseason and purportedly promising them rotation spots, the Mets are in a position where they need to figure out how to make it work with six starting pitchers. Right now, the Mets are trying to figure things out, and there was a report in the New York Post that the Mets may keep all six pitchers in the rotation with Steven Matz and Wacha alternating who gets that start based upon match-ups.

While this is an intriguing strategy, there is an inherent problem. Looking at things from this perspective ignores how Matz is really the Mets fourth best starting pitcher. Take a look at the last two years.

ERA ERA+ FIP IP K/9 BB/9
Steven Matz 4.09 95 4.61 314.1 8.7 3.1
Rick Porcello 4.87 94 4.37 365.2 8.2 2.3
Michael Wacha 4.14 100 5.05 211.0 7.5 3.9

Without going deeper, Matz has the best ERA and strikeout rate of the group. He also has the second best ERA+, FIP, and walk rate. Taking these and other stats into account, Matz has showed himself solidly as one of the five best starters on this team. When we delve a little deeper, his case is further solidified.

Last year, Matz (2.2 WAR) was at least doubly productive a pitcher than either Porcello (1.1 WAR) or Wacha (0.2 WAR) were. He was the only one with an ERA below 4.76, a WHIP lower than 1.394, a strikeout rate about 7.4, an ERA+ above 90, and he was the only pitcher with a complete game shutout.

Matz also was the only pitcher who did not allow over 10 hits per nine, and he yielded the best home run rate. Of the three pitchers, the only thing you could look at was Porcello pitching more innings. However, when you dig deeper, both Matz and Porcello averaged 5.1 innings per start.

There’s another important factor. While Porcello had the worst ERA in the American League last year, and Wacha was shut down with a shoulder injury, Matz figured something out last season which made him a much better pitcher.

After working with Phil Regan to move to the middle of the rubber, he was on a completely different level than either Porcello or Wacha.

In the 14 starts since that adjustment, Matz was 6-4 with a 3.52 ERA, 1.120 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, and a 2.6 BB/9. That July 16 start was his first start since coming back out of the bullpen, and he was limited to just four innings. Beginning with his July 21 start, Matz was 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.181 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, and a 2.6 BB/9 while averaging nearly six innings per start.

Right there is the reason you go with Matz, and that is before you consider he’s the only left-handed option in the rotation. He is the pitcher who has turned a corner in his career, and he is the pitcher who is really the best out of the three. Ultimately, when you break it all down, Matz is the Mets fourth best starter, and he is a good bet to improve off of his 2019 season.

Wilson Ramos Continued Evolution Behind The Plate Key To Mets Success

During the 2019 season, there were rumblings the Mets pitching staff was not happy with Wilson Ramos‘ work behind the plate. While Noah Syndergaard was the only one who went public, we did hear rumblings about other pitchers.

For example, there were issues early on in the season between Ramos and Jacob deGrom. This led to deGrom briefly using Tomas Nido as his personal catcher to get his season back on track and to get him moving towards winning his second straight Cy Young.

Behind the scenes, deGrom and Ramos worked together to get on the same page. Beginning on June 7, Ramos again caught deGrom the majority of the time. From that point forward, deGrom was 8-3 with a 1.88 ERA. In essence, the two figured it out, and once again, deGrom was deGrom.

All we know is that the two worked out what needed to be worked out, but we never quite knew the issue. In a recent interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Zack Wheeler described what the issue between Ramos and really the rest of the pitching staff might’ve been.

Wheeler mostly tabbed unfamiliarity as the issue saying, “I wanted to go up there [with high fastballs] but he wasn’t calling it, so I didn’t throw it up there. Nothing on him. He was getting used to us also. But I knew I needed to go up there a good bit, even early in the count.”

Looking at Wheeler’s first half, he struggled. In 19 starts, he had a 4.69 ERA. The second half was a different story. As Wheeler noted, Ramos was calling the pitches up in the zone more, as he had wanted, and Wheeler rebounded to have another big second half.

Akin to deGrom and Wheeler, we saw clear first half and second half splits for the Mets. In the first half, the Mets were outside the top ten in most pitching categories including their having a 4.88 team ERA, which was 10th worst in the majors. In the second half, the Mets staff was significantly improved to be among the best staffs in the game with a 3.48 ERA, which was fourth best in the Majors.

Perhaps it is of no coincidence the Mets were a completely different team in the second half. After being 10 games under .500 in the first half, they were 20 games over .500 (.644) in the second half. With Ramos figuring things out behind the plate and getting on the same page with the Mets pitchers, they were a completely different team.

It seems the only pitcher Ramos couldn’t quite figure things out with was Syndergaard, but to his credit Ramos is working on it by changing his stance. This should allow him to better catch and frame for Syndergaard leading to better results.

Across the board, there should be better results. After all, the awkward feeling out period between Ramos and the staff isn’t really present. In fact, aside from Dellin Betances, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha, Ramos has worked with this staff. He knows what they need to do to succeed, and more importantly, what he needs to do to help them succeed.

Overall, Ramos was a a part of the problem in the first half – a big part. However, he was part of the solution in the second half, and now, he may be a big reason why the Mets win in 2020.

Yoenis Cespedes and Madison Bumgarner Held To Different Standards

When Yoenis Cespedes injured himself on his ranch, there was wild speculation as to what he was doing. Despite a complete lack of evidence on this point, it was assumed this was the result of foul play. Some speculated it was him riding a horse or something else. Overall, the assumption is Cespedes was not being forthright with what happened.

In actuality, Cespedes was quite forthright.

When the New York Post finally broke the story of what led to Cespedes’ breaking his ankle, it was reported “Cespedes reported the injury to the Mets, including immediately that he was trying to sidestep a boar.” The report went on to indicate that not only did the Mets believe his account to be true, but that the Commissioner’s Office and Players’ Association also confirmed this account.

In essence, while Cespedes was being painted by a broad brush about deceit and people questioning his willingness to be a baseball player, to his detriment, Cespedes was an honest person. In fact, Cespedes was honest when it mattered most – when no one was looking and at a time when it could cost him money.

Put another way, Cespedes showed integrity. It’s actually ironic his integrity was questioned during the time frame between his injury and the details of how he was injured was revealed. The people who question how much he really wanted to play baseball and accused him of just wanting to cash checks overlook how he homered against the Yankees when he desperately needed double heel surgery and how he is up at 5 AM everyday to work on being ready for Opening Day.

Through it all, Cespedes has shown he will doing anything to play baseball. That includes how he defected from Cuba. That defection included ” included four countries, six boat rides, two trips to jail, an immigration raid, accusations of human trafficking and a dispute with a Dominican baseball agent.”

Knowing his story, no one should ever question how much Cespedes wants to play baseball of his integrity. It’s an unfair and unfounded criticism. We also see it’s a complete double standard.

The Athletic just broke a story revealing postseason legend Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodoes under the pseudonym of Mason Saunders. This is notable because Bumgarner hurt his left shoulder in 2017 in what he described as a dirt bike accident.

That accident effectively helped cost the San Francisco Giants any opportunity to return to the postseason. Moreover, it really was the the final nail in the coffin in the Giants run as World Series contenders.

Knowing what we know now, maybe we should be questioning how Bumgarner’s 2017 injury really happened. Moreover, maybe we should be questioning just how much Bumgarner actually wants to play baseball. After all, this is the same pitcher who signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks for less money to stay closer to his farm and his horses in Arizona.

Whereas people were up in arms over the unfounded presumptions Cespedes hurt himself riding a horse, no one said anything about Bumgarner signing with a team so he could ride his horses. While people use Cespedes and his ranch against him, Bumgarner hasn’t been criticized his at all. In fact, he was celebrated for choosing lifestyle over money.

This is not to say Bumgarner should be challenged or criticized. Rather, this is to say Cespedes and Bumgarner are being held to far different standards, and there is no justifiable reason for doing so. In the end, Cespedes is owed an apology for the unfair, unfounded, and at times, outright wrong criticisms directed at him, especially when those same criticisms are not being directed at Bumgarner.

Mets Must Pitch J.D. Davis Early And Often

Major League Baseball has implemented new rules which not only restrict the use of left-handed relievers (i.e. LOOGYS), but they have also severely restricted the ability of position players to pitch in games. In fact, according to the new rules, a position player may not pitch unless it is extra innings or “his team is losing or winning by more than six runs when he enters as a pitcher.”

There is a caveat there where a position player can freely enter a game if they are designated as a two-way player. A two way player is someone who has 20 games started as a position player and has pitched 20 innings. As the rule implies, this is a status a player achieves during the course of the season.

Obviously, the 20 way player rule was implemented for a player like Shohei Ohtani who serves as both the Angels DH and a member of their pitching rotation. However, that does not mean other teams should not look to take advantage of this rule.

For the Mets, that means pitching J.D. Davis every opportunity they get.

When the Mets traded for Davis, one of the justifications for the deal was he could step in a reliever if needed. In fact, in his brief Major League career up until that point, Davis had made three relief appearances for the Houston Astros allowing an earned run over 2.2 innings. In those 2.2 innings, he struck out four and walked one.

That was his first pitching experience since college. While at Cal State Fullerton, Davis had 20 appearances. While pitching 43.1 innings, he had a 2.70 ERA, 1.177 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, and an 8.1 K/9. In his draft report, Baseball America noted ” shows good arm strength off the mound, showing 91-93 mph heat and a decent breaking ball, but his fastball is straight and his arm action isn’t great.”

Put more succinctly, Davis isn’t a Major League quality reliever, but he is a capable pitcher who could help a team out of the bullpen in a real pinch. The thing is you never know when that pinch is going to come.

Far too often, we see times in the season where the Mets pitching staff is completely gassed. The pitchers weren’t giving the length needed. Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have begun piling up the multiple inning outings. That puts more of an onus on the one inning relievers to push harder than they typically should. Following the Mets, this happens at least twice a year.

With those stretches, an already questionable Mets bullpen will cost the Mets some games they wouldn’t otherwise lose. The job for new manager Luis Rojas and new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner is to find ways to mitigate against that. While being more judicious in how you use your pitching is one element, another is knowing when you send out a position player to pitch.

Early in the season, whenever the Mets have a six run lead or deficit, they should put Davis into the game to accrue innings necessary to achieve that two way player designation. Later in the season, that will allow the Mets to use him in four or five run games when they feel they need to save their pitching staff to give them a break.

Remember, this is an extremely talented Mets bullpen, but it is one with some health issues. Lugo has the torn UCL. Gsellman partially tore his lat. Dellin Betances is coming off an Achillies, and he had shoulder issues prior to that. Justin Wilson pitched through elbow soreness. Edwin Diaz has bone spurs in his pitching elbow. Michael Wacha was shut down with shoulder problems multiple times in his career.

Point is, bullpens, even the best bullpens, need breaks whenever they can get them. That can come in the form of a Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard complete game, and it can come in the form of Davis coming into a game and eating an inning here or there when the opportunity presents itself.

In order to really accomplish that, the Mets should remember a 162 game season is a marathon, and they need to prepare in April and May for problems which may come into play in July and August. Those problems are usually bullpen exhaustion related. To best prepare for that, the Mets should begin implementing strategies to get Davis qualified as a two way player so he is available when they really need help down in the bullpen.

Mets 2020 Season Begins Today (Sort Of)

After what seems like one of the longest offseasons in baseball history, today, February 22, 2020, the New York Mets are finally playing a baseball game. Actually, they are playing two games with their split squads playing against the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins.

The focus isn’t on the Astros sign stealing, and how the Mets opted to fire Carlos Beltran while simultaneously keeping J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick despite their own involvement in the scandal. Instead, the focus goes to Luis Rojas‘ first year as the manager of the Mets, and how the rotation and bullpen are going to hold up in the Mets hopes of winning a World Series for the first time since 1986.

Rick Porcello, who the Mets desperately need to have a bounceback year, takes the mound against the Marlins. Marcus Stroman, who is already being looked upon as a dark horse Cy Young candidate, will start against the Cardinals.

From there, we will look at whether Steven Matz can build off of his strong second half. In terms of the bullpen, all eyes will be on Dellin Betances‘ ability to rebound and whether the nasty splitter Jeurys Familia used against Jeff McNeil will appear during the season.

Overall, the 2020 Mets are playing games now, and the focus is going to be one how this team will improve from 2019, and whether this team truly is a World Series contender. That is a more fun and interesting discussion than what we have been having all offseason.

Baseball is back. Well, almost. In any event, it is great having baseball games back, and soon, we will have real baseball being played. When the game is being played, everything is better. Things are even better when the Mets are good. Soon, we will find out if they really are.

Chris Kreider’s Legacy Is At Stake

On September 29, 2018, David Wright took the field for the last time. He was met with cheers, and as he left, there were tears. That put the cap on a career which was not quite Hall of Fame worthy, but it did not put an end to his legacy.

No, even without a Hall of Fame induction or a World Series, Wright will forever be a beloved member of the New York Mets. One day he will be in the Mets Hall of Fame, and very likely, he will have his number retired. This was all possible because he signed a discounted extension to say a Met for his entire career.

This is something which Chris Kreider should be contemplating at this very moment.

Kreider first came to the Rangers in 2012, and his first ever professional goals were game winners in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Akin to Wright, Kreider’s early career was on very good teams, but as we know the Rangers had a far superior run than the Mets did.

In his first six years, Kreider played for a Rangers team who made the playoffs, and the Rangers had made the Conference Finals in three of four years. In the playoffs, Kreider has found an ability to raise his game and to give the Rangers a key goal scorer.

Even with that, there is some degree where Kreider has been viewed as disappointing. In his eight year career (really seven), he has yet to reach the 30 goal mark, and he has surpassed 50 points just twice. Even with that said, he has been an important and very good player with the Rangers who has provided grit, and he is in the midst of what is the best year of his career.

That coincides with his being a pending free agent putting the Rangers in a position of needing to make a decision on him. While it was easier for the Rangers last year with Mats Zuccarello with the team being far out of the playoff race, this Rangers team is surging and is only six points out of a playoff spot with the second best goal differential among Wild Card contenders.

Kreider is a key part of this team, and given his playoff mettle, he could be the veteran who could help power the Rangers to a surprise run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Then again, like we saw with Ryan Callahan, the Rangers could flip Kreider at the trade deadline because they can’t agree to a contract extension.

That is what makes this Rangers organization so well run. They have taken a macro look at this team. Their focus is not solely on one year but also the future. Looking at this Rangers team, this is year one of what could be a very look run. After all, they’re knocking at the door of the playoffs with the youngest team in the league.

Hopefully, there is a Stanley Cup coming, and if that Stanley Cup does come, it is a game changer.

One of the reasons Adam Graves is a beloved Ranger and his number hangs from the rafters is because he was a member of that 1994 Rangers team.

Looking at Graves, he had a similar career to what Kreider has had. Kreider’s incident with Carey Price is akin to Graves’ incident with Mario Lemieux. Both played for Rangers team who were Cup contenders, had relatively frustrating careers, and they both rose to become Alternate Captains. Right now, on the ice, the big difference is Graves had that 50 goal season in 1994 (second time in Rangers history), and he helped lead the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.

Between that and his charitable work, Graves is a beloved Ranger. He’s still a Ranger who shows up for team events, and he is there helping young skaters get their gear when they sign up to be Junior Rangers. Adam Graves is a Ranger not only because he played for the team, but also because he won a Cup here.

Even if Graves isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame, he has a legacy and a home with the Rangers.

If Kreider stays, that can be his legacy. By signing an extension, he can be a Ranger for his entire career. If he wins a Cup, his number will be retired by the team. That is something which will likely not be present for the next stop in his NHL career.

Naturally, if Kreider signs an extension, it would likely come at a discount. Of course, he could get things he wants in return. He could get a NMC, and given how it is currently vacant, he could push to get himself named Captain. Mostly, he could give himself to be a career Ranger who wins a Stanley Cup and have his number retired.

Mostly, by staying, Kreider gives himself a legacy with an Original 6 Team. For Kreider, that is really what is at stake during these extension talks.

David Ortiz Shatters Glass House Throwing Stones At Mike Fiers

In speaking with the media, David Ortiz called Mike Fiers a snitch for revealing the Astros sign stealing, and he defended Jose Altuve and Rob Manfred. This should surprise no one.

With Pedro Martinez, that’s now two members of the 2004 Boston Red Sox attacking Fiers for coming public. Maybe that team is over sensitive to benefitting from cheating as Manny Ramirez, the 2004 World Series MVP, has been suspended multiple times for PEDs.

In addition to testing positive twice, Ramirez was one of the players who had tested positive during the 2003 survey testing. There were 104 players who tested positive including Ramirez and Ortiz. To hear, Ortiz tell it, this was a conspiracy.

No, that’s not a joke. He actually told WEEI, “The only thing that I can think of, to be honest with you, a lot of big guys from the Yankees were being caught. And no one from Boston. This was just something that leaked out of New York, and they had zero explanation about it.”

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, he claimed it couldn’t possibly be true because he dislikes chemicals, and he never tested positive.

Of course, in the same breath he admitted to taking supplements from GNC. The never failed a test is a red herring too. After all, Alex Rodriguez never tested positive (like Ortiz did), and he was using PEDs.

Also like A-Rod, Ortiz worked out with MLB banned trainer Angel Presinal. Presinal was banned from the Majors due to multiple incidents where he carried and administered PEDs to players, and he also instructed them on how to avoid testing positive.

So, Ortiz wants us to believe his being named was a conspiracy, and that even with his working out with a banned trainer who provided PEDs and advised on how to beat tests, he never used them.

It’s probably also a coincidence Ortiz is criticizing Fiers and defending Manfred when he know the Red Sox were caught illegally using an Apple Watch in the dugout in 2017.

Of course, we don’t know if 2017 was the first time the Red Sox used it. However, we do know the Red Sox were caught up in their own scandal. That led to Alex Cora‘s firing. At the moment, there’s an MLB investigation and report pending.

While we don’t know how long the Red Sox were doing it, we do know they’ve been twice implicated in sign stealing. We also know they’ve had their fair share of PED players, and based on the 2003 testing, that includes Ortiz.

In essence, even if Ortiz wants us to believe different, in one way or another, the Red Sox cheated, and he benefitted from it. You’ll also note that while he says the someone from the Astros team should’ve said something in real time, Ortiz was very quiet about what the Red Sox did while he was winning three World Series rings.

Somehow, Ortiz wants to hold the Fiers Astros to a different standard he held himself and his teammates. He also wants players to keep quiet about cheating and benefitting therefrom.

How convenient for him.

Jed Lowrie Had The Debilitating Knee Injury Wilmer Flores Never Had

It was officially one year ago today reports surfaced of Jed Lowrie‘s knee injury. When it first occurred, we assumed this was probably nothing more than one of those early aches some players feel during Spring Training. As is usually the case, the Mets really had no idea of the severity of the injury, how to properly manage or diagnose it, or how to get the player back on the field.

By and large, this injury kept Lowrie from playing in the field, and it limited him to just eight pinch hitting appearances in 2019. In those appearances, he had no hits, drew one walk, and struck out four times.

Fast forward to this year, and Lowrie is wearing a leg brace to help him participate in Spring Training. At the moment, no one knows if Lowrie will be able to effectively play with the brace, if he can only play with a brace, or for that matter when or if he will be able to ever play.

With all due respect to Jason Bay, Luis Castillo, Roger Cedeno, Vince Coleman, and George Foster, Lowrie is shaping up to be the absolute worst free agent signing in Mets history.

What makes this signing all the more troubling is Lowrie’s agent was Brodie Van Wagenen. If there was any GM in baseball who was well aware of the health issues of Lowrie, it would be his agent. Looking back, instead of the enthusiasm for the signing, perhaps there should have been more inquiry why a player coming off an All-Star season and had an 8.8 WAR over the previous two seasons could do not better than signing with the Mets to split time with Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, and Amed Rosario.

The Mets have completely and utterly wasted $20 million on a player who cannot play due to knee injuries. What makes this ironic is the Mets purportedly non-tendered Wilmer Flores partially due to knee injuries which never really existed.

While it was initially reported Flores had arthritis, subsequent reports indicated that was a misdiagnosis. In fact, Flores had tendonitis. Instead of paying him less than $5 million, or working out a team friendly extension he might’ve been inclined to sign, Flores would go to Arizona.

While he had his usual health issues, Flores had a productive season with the Diamondbacks. While continuing to improve against right-handed pitching, he had a 120 wRC+, which was the best of his career. He mostly held his own at second with a -2 DRS and a 1 OAA. That’s right, according to OAA, Flores was a positive defender. Overall, he was worth a 0.8 WAR in 89 games.

Lost in that was Flores’ clutch gene. The same player who is the Mets all-time leader in game winning RBI came up huge down the stretch for the Diamondbacks. From August to the end of the season, he hit .368/.410/.623. His 166 wRC+ over this stretch ranked as the fifth best in the majors.

While this was not enough for Flores’ option to be picked up by the Diamondbacks, he was signed by the San Francisco Giants to a two year $6.25 million deal. In total, that’s $10 million over three years for Flores. Put another way, that’s what Lowrie made in 2019 alone for his eight pinch hitting attempts.

Going forward, the Mets attempts to get another team to take on Lowrie’s contract so they could make another move failed. Meanwhile, Flores is 28 years old and in the prime of his career. Seeing the continued improvements he has made against right-handed pitching and OAA rating his defense much better, Flores could out-play his contract.

In the end, the Mets had a player in Flores who was popular, had a right-handed bat which complimented their heavy left-handed hitting lineup, was comfortable and effective on the bench, and could backup at all four infield positions. Rather than keep him around, Van Wagenen opted to sign his former client who cannot play to a $20 million deal.

Houston Astros Should Not Be Stripped Of 2017 World Series

In 2013, the Louisville Cardinals beat the Michigan Wolverines to win the NCAA Championship. It was on CBS, and the game is still on YouTube. It was televised, and if you did not see it, you can still take time to watch the game if you still want.

What’s weird about that is supposedly that game never happened.

Due to a recruitment scandal, Louisville needed to vacate their wins, and Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino was fired by the university thereby ending a storied career in disgrace. There is article after article about it, and there are many references to the scandal and the game.

And yet, the game supposedly never happened. It never happened despite it being well documented. That extensive documentation proves the old axiom you cannot rewrite history to be true. You can’t post hoc say Louisville didn’t win a game when you can still watch it and read about it.

Therein lies the problem with stripping championships. They happened, and no matter what you do, those games still happened. The Louisville Cardinals won the 2013 NCAA Championship much like the 2017 Houston Astros won the World Series.

As we know, the Astros cheated to do it. They cheated in a similar fashion to how the New York Giants did in 1951 when they won the pennant when Bobby Thompson hit the “Shot Heard Round the World.” That game, much like the seven game 2017 World Series, happened.

To date, that game and the 1951 pennant has not been vacated. No, not even with the reports of the New York Giants extensive sign stealing scheme. Like with the Astros, there were rumors it was happening, but there would be no Mike Fiers whistle blowing until 51 years later when first base coach Herman Franks came forward.

Unlike the Astros players initial response, the other Giants players, Thompson included, admitted to it. However, akin to Jose Altuve and the buzzer rumors surrounding his own famous pennant clinching homer, Thompson denied getting the sign in the famed homer off of Ralph Branca.

The fact is the Shot Heard Round the World remains a part of history. The same can be said about the Astros 2017 World Series. Really, it is more than just that series, it was an entire season.

Where do you stop. Does Altuve gets stripped of his MVP award? How about Justin Verlander‘s ALCS MVP and George Springer‘s World Series MVP awards? With Cody Bellinger‘s statements and Aaron Judge deleting his congratulatory tweet, that seems like it might be palatable. What next?

Do you take away the Astros offensive stats? Is that really going to unring the bell? Look at it from a Mets perspective. Matt Harvey is still a free agent struggling to return from TOS, Seth Lugo is still in the bullpen, and Chris Flexen is still pitching in Korea.

Again, no matter how much you want to pretend the Astros 2017 World Series title never happened, it did, and there are long standing ramifications. That includes players like Clayton Kershaw never winning a World Series ring. Much like the Michigan Wolverines, the Dodgers aren’t going to be named the World Series champions post hoc.

No matter how much we want it to not have happened, the Astros won that World Series, and really you can’t change history. Even if you strip it away, it still exists. If you attach an asterisk to it, it still exists. There is nothing you can do to make it not happen because it did.

So no, don’t strip it away.

However, there are reasonable things Major League Baseball could do. They could tell the Astros they need to remove the pennants and similar denotations of their World Series. After all, while you can’t make it unhappen, you can put barriers in place to stop the Astros from celebrating that World Series.

It’s not great, but it’s something, but that is what you are left with because you can’t say nothing happened because it did.