Future of Cuban Baseball

As I’ve noted before, this is not a political blog. I have strong political opinions, but they won’t be presented here. However, this blog does touch upon baseball and fatherhood, so I decided it was important for me to address the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Cuba. 

From a baseball perspective, there has already been much written about a potential pipeline of talent to the U.S.  For various reasons, I’m not as intrigued by that possibility. Honestly, if Cuba ever allowed their baseball players to come to the U.S., I imagine it would follow the Japanese NPB system

Here’s what I’m more interested in: 

  1. Will Americans be eligible to play in the Cuban National League; and
  2. Will Cuban MLB players be eligible to play in the WBC?

American Eligibility to Play in Cuba

I’m interested in the first one because we have seen MLB players go to the NPB and be successful. The most notable was Cecil Fielder, who improved in the NPB, and became the first player to hit 50 homeruns in 13 years (back when that meant something). 

Since that time, there have been other players like Ryan Vogelsong, who have salvaged their games, there haven’t been any with the impact of Fielder. Now, the NPB seems to be used for a different purpose for American players. Kevin Youkilis went there to play one last season before retiring, rather than risking being cut for non-performance by an MLB team. Tuffy Rhodes decided to make a career out of being an NPB star than return to the U.S.  

Now, I don’t know if the Cuban Leagues are better than the NPB. In fact, I doubt they are. However, it would be good to have another option for MLB players to resurrect their careers. 


I know American baseball fans are as interested in the WBC as I am. Admittedly, there are many flaws in the series (innings limits, when it’s played), but I enjoy it anyway. 

Overall, the two teams that have really underachieved have been the U.S. and Cuba. With each defection, the Cuban team continues to worsen. Here are some of the Cuban MLB players not eligible to play for Cuba anymore:

  1. Jose Abreu
  2. Yoenis Cespedes
  3. Aroldis Chapman
  4. Yasmani Grandal
  5. Adeiny Hechavarria 
  6. Jose Iglesias
  7. Leonys Martin
  8. Yasiel Puig
  9. Alexi Ramirez

These are some good to very good MLB players. These players would really strengthen the Cuban national team. I want the U.S.A. to win the WBC, but I want them to beat the best to show they are the best. I want this to be more akin to Olmpic hockey and basketball, not a collection of guys willing to play. 

I think the addition of the Cuban MLB players would spark their team and the WBC.  There is a Cuba-U.S.A. baseball rivalry at the amateur level. Maybe the addition of the Cuban MLB players will cause the best American players to show up . . . not just some of them. 


Overall, I have no idea of the political and baseball impact on the U.S. Embassy reopening in Cuba. While I know there are people who support it and those who vehemently oppose it, I think we all agree we want what’s best for the Cuban families. To a lesser extent, I think we would all enjoy better baseball. 

Mets Needed Relief

If it wasn’t so hot hot tonight, I swear it was October. Tonight’s game just had that feel to it. 

Speaking of October, we got a glimpse why the Pirates may be better suited to go deeper in the playoffs – their bullpen. Top to bottom, it’s terrific. The Mets bullpen is top heavy with Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia. I’m not saying I felt like the game was in the balance when Bobby Parnell was announced. I am saying I have no confidence in him. 

He did give up hard hits, and he left the game with no outs, runners on first and second, and the Mets down 2-1 in the tenth. Carlos Torres did his best to get out of it, but at the end of the top of the 10th, the Mets trailed 3-1. 

That insurance run was a doozy. Juan Lagares had a terrific AB against  Pirates closer, Mark Melancon, before hitting a double to right center. He would advance on a wild pitch and score on Curtis Granderson‘s sac fly. Cespedes would meekly strikeout. in fact, he failed to run with strike three in the dirt. That’s inexcusable. Juan Uribe would groundout to end the game. Final score was 3-2. 

It’s too bad the crowd wasn’t paying attention to the game.  You CANNOT do the wave in a tight, well played baseball game between two terrific teams. I’m not for outlawing the wave. There is a time and place for everything. There was no room for the wave tonight. 

If they were actually paying attention to the game, they would’ve noticed Bartolo Colon‘s great performance. [I can admit it when he pitches well]. He only allowed a first inning homerun to Neil Walker. Sure, he was occasionally helped by his defense, but he got the groundballs to induce those double plays to get him out of trouble. Amazingly, J.A. Happ was just as good.

If not for that Yoenis Cespedes‘ sixth inning homerun, I’m positive the Mets would’ve lost 1-0 in an excellently played ballgame by both teams. Needless to say, it turned out all for naught. 

In terms of the lineup, the Mets have shown Michael Conforto should’ve been sent down. They’re making him a platoon player, which could be detrimental to his career. He’s didnt start in 3/4 games against the Rockies, and he won’t start in 2/3 games against the Pirates. Monday is an off day. That means in one week he got one start and two PH appearances. Would it really have been that bad if those six plate appearances were divvied up between Eric Campbell, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Lagares?

I Hate the Pirates

It’s funny. The three divisional format in every league was supposed to, in part, amp up rivalries. The problem when they set up the NL East was that there were no rivalries amongst those teams. 

The teams I hated are all in the NL Central: the Cardinals, Cubs, and Pirates. I came to hate the Pirates in 1990. The Pirates crushed my young dream of seeing the Mets in the playoffs again. 

In 1990 , I rooted for the Reds in the NLCS. In 1991 and 1992, I rooted for the Braves. One of my favorite memories as a kid was this: 

It’s funny now to think of ever rooting for the Braves, but baseball was much different back then. It’s also funny to think Barry Bonds couldn’t throw out former teammate, Sid Bream. After the 1991 NLCS, the Pirates couldn’t resign Bobby Bonilla allowing the Mets to get him on what would become “The Worst Team Money Can Buy.”

Again, your memory is funny. When the Mets first got Bonilla, I was thrilled. You were too. You know what else is funny?  If you look over his stats, he was a pretty good player on the Mets. However, any sympathy I would’ve had for him went out the door with 1999 poker game. 

Anyway, after 1992, that was it for the Pirates. Barry Bonds would go to San Francisco, and the Pirates wouldn’t have a winning team again for another 21 years. I loved every minute of it. Now, however, the Pirates are a loaded, dangerous, and likeable team. 

With them it all starts with Andrew McCutchen, who is the best player in the National League. He’s a CF putting up consistent All Star and Hall of Fame stats. It seems like every year, he gets unexpected help. This year that man is Jung Ho Kang, who probably is the rookie of the year. 

A deep pitching staff is lead by Gerritt Cole, who is on the fringes of the Cy Young discussions. Luckily, they will miss him. Unfortunately, the Mets will throw Bartolo Colon. Also, Matt Harvey will be the only stud muffin to fm go in this series. 

Right now, the Pirates are the better team. However, the Mets play well at Citi Field while the Pirates are [barely] a sub .500 team in the road. Overall, I see this series as a measuring stick rest. I hope the Mets are up for the challenge. 


According to Carlos Gonzalez, Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball. This is notable because he shares a division with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Madison Bumgarner. With that said, I wanted to take a way too early look at deGrom’s chances of winning the Cy Young Award. 

In doing this analysis. I wanted to take a look at different stats and predictors. I wanted to do this because I don’t think anyone one factor or stat should ever held to be dispositive. I went with the factors I fr most comfortable discussing. For each, I will only list the top five as that how many pitchers may be listed on a ballot. 

ESPN Cy Young Predictor

The ESPN Cy Young Predictor focuses more on traditional stats like wins, losses, and ERA. As of right now, here are the rankings:

  1. Zack Greinke
  2. Trevor Rosenthal
  3. Michael Wacha
  4. Jacob deGrom 
  5. Clayton Kershaw


WAR seeks to adjust the runs a pitcher allows in a season (I’m way oversimplifying, but fully explaining this is a post or 10 in and of itself). Here are the league leaders:

  1. Zack Greinke
  2. Max Scherzer
  3. Jacob deGrom
  4. Clayton Kershaw
  5. Jake Arrieta


Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP, measures a pitcher’s effectiveness in preventing HR, BB, and HBP while causing strikeouts. Really, this measures the “Three True Outcomes.”  Here are the league leaders:

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Max Scherzer
  3. Zack Greinke
  4. Jacob deGrom
  5. Jake Arrieta


ERA+ adjusts a pitcher’s ERA for various factors like ballpark and defense. Here are the league leaders:

  1. Zack Greinke
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Jake Arrieta
  4. Max Scherzer
  5. Clayton Kershaw


To calculate the winner, I’m using the BBWAA 7-4-3-2-1 formula to select the winner, i.e. first place gets seven points and fifth gets one. 

  1. Zack Greinke (24 points)
  2. Jacob deGrom (13 points)
  3. Clayton Kershaw (11 points)
  4. Max Scherzer (10 points)
  5. Jake Arrieta (5 points)
  6. Trevor Rosenthal (4 points)
  7. Michael Wacha (3 points)


Much of this seems to suggest what we already assume we know: Zack Greinke is going to win the Cy Young. It’s always great when the stats are in agreement. 

I think it also shows we are right in assuming the top pitchers also include Jacob deGrom, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Scherzer. However, it was enlightening to see Jake Arrieta is having a tremendous year, and yet, he wasn’t an All Star. 

Overall, deGrom is a strong second, but still second in projected voting. There is still a lot of season left, so there still might be a chance. Even if he doesn’t win, he’s still had a great year. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman, WILMER FLORES!

Arm Wrestling

About three weeks ago, I addressed the Mets innings limitations problem. Without completely regurgitating everything here, my conclusion was that without a spot starter, Jacob deGrom would be the only stud muffin able to make a postseason start. Even at that, he would only be available for one game. 

I thought with the latest go-round of stud muffin starts, it would be helpful to re-visit where we are on the innings limits:

Matt Harvey: I’ve noted his innings limits are between 180 – 190 innings. Right now, he’s at 148.0, or 42.0 innings before a hypothetical shutdown (don’t worry Collins said there’s no shutdown). By my rudimentary calculation, Harvey has nine starts left, at most. He’s averaging 6.2 innings per start meaning he will go over his limit by 18 innings (about three starts), not including the postseason. 
Jacob deGrom: I’ve noted his innings limits are between 208 – 214 innings. Right now, he’s at 146.2, or 71.1 innings before needing to be shutdown. With approximately nine starts left and his averaging 6.2 innings per start, he looks to finish the year with 206.2 innings. It looks like he will be below his limits, postseason aside. 

Noah Syndergaard: I’ve noted his innings limits are between 159.0 – 163.0 innings. Right now, he’s at 105.2, or 57.1 innings before needing to be shut down. With nine starts remaining and his averaging 6.2 innings per start, he looks to finish the year with 165.2 innings. He will be slightly above his innings limits right before the postseason.

So interestingly enough, if you’re only looking at the regular season, there isn’t an innings limitation problem with anyone but Harvey.  This is yet again a sign the Mets shouldn’t “Matz” with the rotation right now. 
While not addressing the pitching, Sandy Alderson did say, “[i]t’s about this year. Not next year.”  I hope he keeps this in mind and puts Steven Matz in the bullpen. Remember it’s all about this year. 

Trivia Friday

With the Mets playing Pittsburg this weekend, I was reminded of how lucky Mets fans have been to have such terrific broadcasters.  It all started with the first group, who all shared TV and radio duties. Today’s quiz seeks the names of the three original Mets announcers. 

So, as you know, it’s Quiz Friday here at Mets Daddy, so to all you readers out there, Happy Birthday. 


Today is National Lefthanders’ Day. The day made me think of my son and his baseball future. 

If you’re a baseball fan, and you have a son, you want him to be left-handed because seemingly there are more chances for left handed pitchers. Left handed pitchers throw the ball with more spin. They seem to have longer careers. Mets fans need look no further than John Franco and Jesse Orosco

Plus left-handed batters are described as having beautiful swings. There is Tony GwynnKen Griffey, Jr., and Ted Williams. For Mets fans, we think of Darryl Strawberry and John Olreud. Oh yeah, the greatest baseball player of all time was left handed. 

Now, I know children will not truly have a hand preference until they are about four. Right now, there are some things he does right handed and some things he does left handed. However, it doesn’t stop me from dreaming or playing baseball with my son. When we play baseball, I have him switch hit. 

I may want him to throw the ball left-handed, and I may occasionally put it in his left hand, but he really throws with both hands. I joke with my wife that ultimately it doesn’t matter because he’ll throw lefty when he’s older. You may not know this, but Billy Wagner is naturally right-handed. He began playing lefty when he broke his right arm. It reminds me of when I broke my right thumb playing baseball around the same age. 

I went to a yard sale and got a left handed glove large enough to fit over my splint.  I would practice throwing lefty and catching with my new mitt until I got caught.  I would sneak out of the house and ride my bike to my Little League games (my splint hidden in my bat bag). My mom would arrive in just enough time for my name to be scratched from the lineup.  I never got the opportunity to be like Billy Wagner. Something tells me my wife won’t let that happen either. 

Anyway, that is how much I loved baseball (and still do). You couldn’t keep me off the field without a fight. I already see glimpses of that with my son.  He loves baseball. He was watching the game last night telling me when the players hit the ball. He knows a double and a homerun.

I’m glad he loves the sport. Lefty or not, I’ll be there playing with him, and hopefully, one day I’ll be there when he suits up for his first game in the majors. If he doesn’t, I’ll still love him and be proud of him . . . it’ll just mean I’ll have to buy my own tickets. 

BACK to Having This Conversation

We all have those conversations that we just hate having. For some of us, it’s that conversation when it’s time to go on a diet. For others, it’s about the household budget. For all Mets fans, it’s about injuries.

They all start out seemingly innocuous and become something more. When it originally seems bad, we’re told it’s not and the player sits on the bench until they can hobble on the field for a PH appearance. 

Prior to this year, it was the awful way, the Mets responded to Matt Harvey‘s and Zack Wheeler‘s arm complaints. It continued this year with Dan Warthen playing doctor with Steven Matz

Also, this year we saw David Wright‘s hamstring injury become a spinal stenosis issue. Then the Mets refused to put Michael Cuddyer on the DL, severely limiting the team. Now, Lucas Duda has missed three straight games with an unknown back injury

Yes, I know it says stuff back in the link, but that’s a symptom; not a diagnosis. For example, a throbbing leg is a symptom. When x-rays show a fracture that’s a diagnosis. Duda has missed three straight games. It’s time to get some tests. 

Honestly, I can’t believe I’m saying this after David Wright. You’d think the Mets would be extra sensitive to back injuries. However, when looking at the facts, I’m naive. You’d think the Mets would’ve show extra precaution when a young starting pitcher has arm complaints after Harvey, yet they ignored Wheeler. 

I’m not calling for Duda to be put in the DL yet. You need to know what the problem is before making that decision. However, I will note that when they finally put Cuddyer on the DL, he got better, and it looks like he’s playing better

I’d rather see Duda get right than try to play through this and get more hurt. While we know rest may not be the best cure, he can do the exercises needed to get his back strong for the rest of the year. It’s not about RIGHT NOW; it’s about this season. You need healthy players for the stretch run. First base can be manned by Cuddyer and Daniel Murphy in the interim. 

Please let the Mets learn from their mistakes and take care of Duda. They’ll need him. 

Thor LEFT Out There

Way back when the Mets used to be good, an old friend and I would always lament these days games. It wasn’t just because we had to intermittently listen to the game on the radio, but it was also because odd things tend to happen to the Mets in weekday day games. 

I was reminded of that a few weeks ago with that bizarre game against the Padres. With the way Noah Syndergaard started the game, I was afraid of another one of those games. In the first he let up two solo homeruns. The Mets got him the lead in the bottom of the first, and he gave it away in the third. 

It looked like this was going to be a high scoring game, and Thor would be lucky to get through five. The Mets upheld their end of the bargain by scoring 12 runs. The Rockies wouldn’t score past the third for a 12-3 final. Amazingly, Thir finished with five strikeouts, 2 walks, four hits, and three earned runs in seven innings. Good for Terry Collins for sticking with him. 

This may not have been the game in which he had his most impressive stuff or control, but it might’ve been his most impressive game to date. It’s one thing to win when it’s all working. It’s another to have a rough start with less than your best stuff and still find a way. This is the type of game where you say he could join Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey in being considered an ace. 

Offensively, the lefties were hitting on National Lefthanders’ DayCurtis Granderson went 1-3 with a walk, two runs scored, and a three run homer. Daniel Murphy went 1-5 with a run scored and an RBI double. Kelly Johnson went 3-4 with a double, a home run, a run scored, and three RBIs. Michael Conforto went 2-3 with a walk and three runs scored. The only left not in on the action?  Lucas Duda, who missed his third straight game with his back injury

It was also great to see Juan Lagares hit a pinch hit three run homer. He’s been going well pretty lately. It’ll be great to see him continue because the Mets could use his glove in the field everyday. 

On another note, you have to admit you feel great about this team right now. I’m sure there are fans still scared from 2007 and 2008, but this team isn’t that team. Plus, the Nationals aren’t the Phillies. The Mets swept the Rockies and made them look like a last place team. The Rockies beat the Nationals two out of three. 

I’m not guarantee in a division title, but I think it’s fine to feel confident and enjoy these games. Don’t let bad memories stop you from enjoying these new ones.