Good for Willie Randolph

For the life of me, I still don’t know how Willie Randolph never got another chance to manage.  

His career record is 302-253, a .544 winning percentage. Over 162 games, that’s an 88-74 record. He did a great job handling Mike Piazza‘s last year as a Met. Never did he embarass him. He helped David Wright and Jose Reyes go from prospects to All Stars. He brought the team to the cusp of a World Series. 

Then Carlos Beltran struck out. Seemingly, the entire pitching staff was injured leading to a historic September collapse. The Mets struggled out of the gate in 2008. All the while, his bench coach, Jerry Manuel, was undermining him in an attempt to get his job. As a result, the Mets unfairly fired a pretty good manager. They embarrassed him in the process by firing him the day after a win. It was also the first game into a long West Coast trip. 

We know what happens next. The Mers collapsed again showing maybe it wasn’t Willie’s fault. The Mets kept Manuel on who just became a caricature for post-game press conferences. The Mets slowly slipped into irrelevancy. Willie never got another managerial job. Well that was until now. 

He’s now the manager of Team USA in the WBSC Premier 12 Tournament. This tournament is being used as a replacement for baseball being taken out of the Olympics. The roster is made up of players who are not yet on their team’s 40 man roster. After yesterday’s win, Willie Randolph has USA in the championship game. He’s on the verge of winning a championship. He’s showing he know how to manage. 

With minority hiring at a low in MLB, Willie should get another chance. He’s been a winner everywhere. He’s no less deserving of a second chance than Terry Collins was, and Collins was almost Manager of the Year. Imagine what Willie could do with another chance. 

It’s time Willie Randolph gets another chance to manage. 

Mets Real Problem

Something occurred to me last night. The Mets have a real problem this offseason. It’s one that they partially created. In a nutshell, they arrived too soon. 

At the beginning of 2015, no one saw the Mets winning the NL Pennant. They were coming off a 79-83 season. The already dominant Nationals added Max ScherzerBryce Harper wasn’t the only one who thought the Nationals were bound to win a ring. Even with Jacob deGrom winning the Rookie of the Year and the return of Matt Harvey most thought the best case scenario was the Mets competing for one of the Wild Cards. 

What happened?  The National faltered so badly they had to fire their manager. deGrom was even better than he was in his rookie year. Harvey showed no rust and has no setbacks in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. The Mets offense and his play in AA forced the Mets to call up Michael Conforto, who played well. Noah Syndergaard had an incredible rookie year. Jeurys Familia became a great closer. 

Add that to Curtis Granderson having a great year and an amazing two months from Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets win 90 games and win the NL East. When the young pitching delivers in the postseason and Daniel Murphy becomes unhittable, you win a pennant. Man was that an unlikely pennant. Going into the year, you would’ve thought everything wouldn’t had to break right for the Mets to get to this point. It was quite the opposite. 

Zack Wheeler‘s season was over before it began with him needing Tommy John surgery. David Wright missed most of the season with spinal stenosis. Murphy was in and out of the lineup in the first half with injuries. Michael Cuddyer wasn’t as good as they hoped, got hurt, and became an expensive bench playerWilmer Flores struggled at shortstop creating a strange platoon with Ruben TejadaDilson Herrera couldn’t fill the gaps because he still wasn’t ready. Travis d’Arnaud had two long DL trips, and his replacements couldn’t hit. Juan Lagares took big steps back offensively and defensively. Lucas Duda had a streaky year with prolonged slumps. Oh, and their closer, Jenrry Mejia, had not one but two PED suspensions. 

Really, this wasn’t some magical season. It was frustrating for most of the year. It was magical from August on. If not fit the Nationals ineptitude, the Mets should’ve been dead and buried. The Mets should’ve been looking to build off of a strong 2015 season. The Mets still have prospects a year or two away. The year was really supposed to be 2017. That was the year the Mets pitching would’ve been firmly established with the Mets having quality players at every position across the diamond.

No, they’re way ahead of schedule. They’re ready to let Murphy walk after he’s been a solid player for many years, let alone that postseason. There’s no room for Cespedes. The Mets are again talking about not being able to expand payroll. It’s creating an air of frustration amongst the fan base. It’s strange considering what happened in 2015. 

What’s also strange is a poor NL East is seemingly getting worse. The NL East may very well be there for the taking WITHOUT the Mets signing even one player. In actuality, not signing anyone could arguably be a prudent move for the future of the team. 

Do you really want to block 2B with a large contract when Herrera is a potential All Star. Do you grossly overpay for a bad shortstop when the Mets have not one but two big prospects at that position who are not far away?  Why are you getting a terrible centerfielder when Brandon Nimmo is so close

Do you block the path for some potential All Stars for aging players who MAY help you one year and be an albatross when the prospects are ready?  How do you not build upon a team that went to the World Series last year?  Can you reasonably ask a fan base to wait another year after all the losing? How do you explain last year might’ve been a fluke?

That’s the Mets real problem. They’re trying to juggle the present and the future. The front office is going to have to earn their money this offseason. 

Clock Has Officially Started on Nimmo

The first ever draft pick by the Samdy Alderson regime with the Mets was Brandon Nimmo. Today, he should be added to the 40 man roster, and he looks like he will begin the year in AAA. 

When the Mets drafted him, they were just drafting on potential. Sure, you could make that argument with any first round pick, but it really applied to Nimmo. He played in Wyoming, a state that produces very few major league players. He showed glimpses of being a give tool player, but in a state like Wyoming, who really knows?

The Mets knew he was a long term project. That’s fine. You draft the best talent. He’s definitely talented. He’s a Top 100 MLB prospect and the Mets number two overall prospect (behind Steven Matz). He’s shown he can handle centerfield everyday. He’s got good speed and a good arm. While he may not have 20 home run power, he’s got a good eye and he’s a contact hitter. In his minor league career, he’s hit .263/.383/.391. After his call-up to AAA last year, he hit .264/.393/418 in 32 games. 

It’s possible he gets called up in 2016. It’s even more possible he gets called-up in 2017. Fact is, the sooner he’s ready the better. Right now, the Mets seem to want a platoon bat in CF for Juan Lagares. They deem this such a need they’re talking with players who can’t play the position. Personally, I’d let Kirk Nieuwenhuis be the platoon option until Nimmo is ready. It’s not like Kirk is any worse than the other options. I believe everyone in the Mets organization wants Nimmo to force them to make the decision. 

That’s why the clock is ticking. Everyone is waiting for him to take over CF. We’re looking forward to seeing Nimmo and Michael Conforto continue to drive each other to become the best players they can be. If they bring out the best in one another just watch out when they’re reunited in the majors. 

I’d like to see Nimmo get his chance. I’d hate to see him blocked by what will be an albatross of a contract. Right now, it’s up to him. Conforto forced his way to the majors. Nimmo has to be the same. He’s now on the 40 man roster, which means there’s one less hurdle. 

Soon, it will be Nimmo’s time. 

Mets Got Jacked

As the Mets are trying to make room on the 40 man roster to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft, there was always going to be a chance they’d expose someone valuable. 

During this process, the Mets removed Jack Leathersich from the 40 man roster exposing him to waivers. It was certainly understandable considering he had Tommy John surgery in June meaning he probably won’t be able to pitch next year. It should be noted if the Mets wanted to keep Leathersich, they had to remove him from the 60 day DL and put him on the roster. 

Not adding Leathersich back to the 40 man roster was a risk. It was a calculated risk. First, why would another team clog up a spot on the 40 man roster for a LOOGY who won’t pitch next year. Second, if you had him on the team next year, you’d have to put him on the 60 day DL next year. This would mean a higher salary for Leathersich and more MLB service time that the Mets will not benefit the Mets on the field. Finally, the Mets have plenty of bullpen options to get lefties out next year. 

Next year, the Mets will have Dario Alvarez ready to go. Josh Smoker was just added to the 40 man roster. Josh Edgin is due to return from his own Tommy John surgery next year. The projected main setup men, Addison Reed and Hansel Robles, get lefties out and do not need a LOOGY to bail them out. This is all before the Mets possibly adding a LOOGY in free agency. Therefore, if you’re opening up a spot on the 40 man roster you look towards the LOOGY that won’t pitch next year. It’s a gamble, but it’s one worth taking. 

Unfortunately, the Cubs claimed Learhersich. More power to them if they can carry an injured LOOGY on their 40 man roster for a full season. It wasn’t practical for the Mets to do it. It’s not practical for most teams. Sure, I could point to other players that should be removed, but truth be told they’ll be removed eventually to protect a player from the Rule 5 draft or to make room for a free agent. 

The Mets made the right move here. Sometimes even when you make the right move, you’re going to get jacked. 

Trivia Friday

With another year of postseason awards handed out, the closest the Mets came to winning an Award was Terry Collins, who finished third in the Manager of the Year voting. Can you name the Mets who were the first to win a postseason award?  Good luck!

Rangers Know How to Go After a Championship

When my son was first born, I began watching hockey with him. Between the Olympics and the Rangers Stanley Cup run, it was pure magic. I enjoyed every minute of it. 

Last year was tough. The Rangers won the President’s Trophy in what looked like a Stanley Cup or bust season. I still remember that fateful Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. However, what I remember wasn’t the frustrating loss. It was my son’s fever. I remember spending that entire game trying to bring the fever down. I wasn’t able to accomplish it until sometime after midnight. It was a long, hard night. Normally after a loss like that, I’m up all night. That morning I was able to put my head down and go to sleep. The next day was a whole other story, especially with my son’s fever having gone away. 

Since that time, my son has been much more interested in baseball just like his daddy. Just like in 2014, he and I enjoyed a magical run that fell just short. I think I took it harder than he did both times. 

Tonight, the Rangers take on the Lightning again. The Rangers can’t exact revenge tonight. No, it’s just a reminder of how close the Rangers were last year. They seem to know and so far has responded by jumping out of the gate with a 14-2-2 record. The team may have its faults, but it is primed for another run to the Stanley Cup. 

With the Mets season over, I’m back in full time. The Rangers are yet again a good team that’s enjoyable to watch. However, I’m not sure I can take a third straight year of one of my teams falling just short of winning a championship. 

Just like in 1994, New York needs a championship. You’re the best team in New York, and you have the playoff experience to deliver one. It’s time the Rangers get King Henrik a proper crown.

Lets Go Rangers! 

Editors Note: apologies to the Islanders fans who read this blog. I promise the Rangers will not be a regular feature. It was more of a reaction to the irritation surrounding the Mets offseason. 

Verrett Shows Importance of Rule 5 Draft

Tomorrow is the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft by adding them to your 40 man roster. If they are not added, another team may select that player and add them to their 40 man roster. To keep that player, the new team must keep the new player in the majors all year. If not, that player must be offered back. 

That was the odyssey of Logan Verrett last year. He started out as a Rule 5 pick of the Baltimore Orioles, and his rights would subsequently be picked up by the Texas Rangers. He struggled in his limited time with Texas going 0-1 in four appearances with a 6.00 ERA and a 1.667 WHIP. With the Mets needing relief help at the time, the Mets took him back when he was offered. 

It was the best thing that happened to both him and the Mets. Verrett made 10 relief appearances with the Mets. In those appearances, he had a 2.20 ERA and a 0.674 WHIP. Overall, as a reliever, he had a 3.55 ERA and a 1.060 WHIP. Batters were only able to hit .198/.205/.352. This makes him a good reliever, who is all the more valuable when everyone else is out of reach

He has increased value because he’s an effective spot starter. When he was making spot starts giving the starters test before the postseason, he went 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.030 WHIP. Batters only hit .208/.291/.338 against him. He was extremely valuable as a Met last year. He came back at the right time. 

So for every Brad Emaus, there’s a Verrett who is able to contribute. It sometimes shows the best way to help your roster is to properly value what you have in house. That doesn’t mean you thrust players like Dilson Herrera out there before they’re ready. It means you properly value and protect your assets

Verrett has deserved consideration for the major league roster in 2016. He’s also showed the players that got you there last year also deserve to be kept around to make another run next year. 

Our Wor$t Nightmare

MLB Trade Rumors updated where the Mets are this offseason. Unsurprisingly, the prognosis isn’t good. Despite the overtures that increased attendance will mean increased payroll, it appears the Mets won’t make good on that promise. 

In the post, it discussed how the Msts appear unwilling to make the type of contract it would take to sign the following players:

  1. Ben Zobrist
  2. Daniel Murphy
  3. Ruben Tejada; and 
  4. Darren O’Day

The Mets just came off of an NL Pennant. There’s more money.  There are holes in this roster. Instead of filling the holes, the Mets are creating new ones. It’s making an already frustrating offseason even more so. 

If the Mets choose not to spend any money on these players, who are they going to pursue?  Jason Heyward?  Not likely. Instead the Mets will turn to the likes of Dilson HerreraMatt Reynolds, and whatever other cheap players they could acquire. This is what the Mets seem to believe is the appropriate course. 

By not negotiating with Murphy inseason, the Mets have put themselves in the predicament of having to overpay for a player. They didn’t mind it last year with Michael Cuddyer. However, now it’s a problem with Murphy and Tejada. It’s a problem with two players that helped bring you to the postseason and the World Series. I’m still perplexed this team isn’t going to spend to try to bring this team right back to the World Series.

I guess that just means all Mets fans are Charlie Brown and the Mets are like Lucy. They give us hope and taking it away laughing. We’re just flat on our backs looking like idiots. 

Tejada Shows Sandy’s Weakness

Since Sandy Alderson has become the Mets General Manager, he has shown two weaknesses: (1) building a bench; and (2) building a bullpen. 

The main reason for the bench issue is he doesn’t value what he has. A few years ago, he non-tendered a quality bench player in Justin Turner. Now, it appears the Mets will make the same mistake again with Ruben Tejada. The reason?  Well essentially it boils down to the possibility Tejada may receive a raise in arbitration of about $1.2 million meaning he would earn around $3 million next year. 

It’s penny wise, pound foolish.  Tejada has his flaws, but he’s a capable bench piece. He can play a reasonable shortstop for one to two games at a clip. His bat isn’t awful. If his broken leg proves to be too much, the Mets could cut him before the season begins and only owe him 30-45 days worth of salary. 

Remember, Mets fans were told that if we came out to the ballpark, the team would spend. Mets fans came to the park in 2015. Ticket prices are going up in 2016. There really isn’t a better option than Tejada in the trade market. Is this team really going to let $1 million stand in the way of building a credible major league bench?  

The Mets should think about it this way. They paid John Mayberry, Jr. $1.45 million to hit .164/.227/.318 in 59 games. Wouldn’t the Mets be better served by giving Tejada that money to hit .261/.338/.350 in 116 games. Isn’t it better to keep Tejada around if he can’t be a free agent until 2018?  Are we really to believe this money is what is going to stand between the Mets getting that one key player?  

If $1 million stands in the way of anything, this team isn’t serious about adding payroll or competing. Yet again, they will not be serious about building a competent major league bench. This just exposes Sandy’s biggest weakness. It’s not just the ability to build a bench. 

It’s the payroll given to him year in and year out to build a contender. 

The Murphy Redemption

With Adam Rubin’s latest report, I have newfound faith the Mets can re-sign Daniel Murphy. I had began the process of letting him go, even if I was still holding out hope

The news that the Mets will at least make a competitive offer perked me up a bit. I began to think if there’s anyone who would turn down more money, it’s Murphy. I think it even if it’s not true. I need Red to come over here and snap me out of it. I wish he’d come and say something along the lines of:

You shouldn’t be doing this to yourself. This is just some pipe dream. Murphy’s value is way up here and the Mets budget is way down there . . . and that’s the way it is. 

However, the closest thing I have is Marc Carig. He’s a very good reporter, but he’s no Red:

However, I go back to thinking about Shawshank. I think of all the garbage Murphy went through in his time with the Mets. The moving him around the field. The focus on what he didn’t do well rather than all the positive attributes he brought to the table. In the end, Murphy went through all of that, and he came out clean on the other side. From also ran to the 2015 NLCS MVP. 

All season long, I was never quite sure what that Italian man was singing about during the seventh inning stretch. I don’t want to know as somethings are best left unsaid.  I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful like Murphy’s swing. The balls off his bat soaring higher and farther than anyone in Citi Field dares to dream. It’s like each ball hit brought you closer to a World Series. In those brief moments, you believed. 

Ultimately, I still think he leaves. I think he goes on to better and brighter things to a team that wants and respects him more. It makes me sad. I’ll have to remind myself he deserves better. He deserves the money he’ll receive on the free agent market. Still, Citi Field and the Mets won’t be as entertaining when he’s gone. 

All I have is hope right now that he’ll stay. Hope that we will both be at Citi Field on Opening Day wearing our Mets caps. That’s the funny thing about hope:

Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best if things, and no good thing ever dies.