Recently, Mets employee Jessica Mendoza and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez publicly criticized Mike Fiers for telling The Athletic about the Houston Astros illegal sign stealing program. His speaking to The Athletic led to a Major League investigation and penalties being levied upon the Astros.
According to Fiers, he went public because he wanted “the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing.” As a result, knowing what he knew, he would tell his teammates on the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics about it, so they could be prepared.
What is interesting is whatever he personally did wasn’t working. Since leaving the Astros, Fiers has made four starts against the team in Minute Maid Park. In those four starts, he has only pitched 16.1 innings, and he has a 11.02 ERA with the Astros hitting .397/.440/.731 against him.
That included the Astros roughing him up for nine runs in 1.0+ innings in a September start. At the time the Athletics were in a dog fight for one of the two Wild Card spots. While the Athletics did capture one of the two spots, Fiers was left off the postseason roster. It’s very likely Fiers had had enough.
Notably, Fiers said he has strained relationships with his former Astros teammates because he shared the information to his new teammates. As discussed above, he also caught the ire of Mendoza and Martinez.
Mendoza said, “It was a player that was a part of it, that benefited from it during the regular season when he was a part of that team. That, when I first heard about it, it hits you like any teammate would. It’s something that you don’t do. I totally get telling your future teammates, helping them win, letting people know, but to go public with it and call them out and start all of this, it’s hard to swallow.” (ESPN).
Martinez echoed similar statements saying, “If you have integrity you find ways to tell everybody in the clubhouse, ‘Hey, we might get in trouble for this. I don’t want to be part of this.’ You call your GM. You tell him. Or you call anybody you can or MLB or someone and say, ‘I don’t want to be part of this.’ Or you tell the team, ‘Get me out of here, I don’t want to be part of this.’ Then you show me something. But if you leave Houston and most likely you didn’t agree with Houston when you left and then you go and drop the entire team under the bus I don’t trust you. I won’t trust you because did have that rule.” (WEEI).
At the core of what Mendoza and Martinez is saying is there are ways to do this, and Fiers did it the wrong way. Honestly, Mendoza and Martinez have completely missed the point.
Both have painted a picture of Fiers as a bad teammate who violated clubhouse rules by going public. However, they fail to speak on how the Astros were bad teammates for employing the system against him.
They wanted Fiers to work through this internally while ignoring the fact the Astros knew what was transpiring.
The Statement of the Commissioner found the General Manager Jeff Luhnow, “had some knowledge of these efforts, but he did not give it much attention. It also found AJ Hinch “did not stop it and he did not notify players or Cora that he disapproved of it, even after the Red Sox were disciplined in September 2017.”
As we see Fiers going internal was pointless as the Astros were aware of it, and they did it anyway. Parenthetically, this also assumes Fiers didn’t voice his concerns internally. But really, who cares? At the end of the day, top to bottom, the entire organization was in on this.
There’s another point to be made with the Red Sox discipline in September 2017.
This was much more widespread than anyone knew. As we’ve since discovered even with Major League Baseball issuing a penalty and directive, the Astros continued to cheat, and in the ensuing season, the Red Sox cheated again.
Also, to this point, we’ve yet to see Major League Baseball commission an investigation on par with the Mitchell Report. The Mitchell Report is instructive here because it was prompted by Jose Canseco‘s book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big” as well as Mark Fainaru-Wada’s and Lance Williams’ book “Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports.”
The efforts to clean up the game were prompted by speaking outside the clubhouse. Supposedly, these are efforts Martinez now applauds even though he was a beneficiary of prior cheating scandals with his being teammates with Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz on the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.
One other point on the 2017 Red Sox punishment is it was private, and there was no further investigation into the 29 other teams. Had that occurred baseball likely would have caught the Astros in 2017, 2018, and the cheating which has happened since that MLB disavows happening.
As an aside, we haven’t heard Mendoza or Martinez speak out about how the current Astros players were all too willing to place the blame on Carlos Beltran and Cora. Apparently, they’re aghast at speaking out publicly, but apparently ratting out people who left to save your own hide and reputation is not worth criticism.
Like it or not, as we’ve seen with baseball’s handling of this and other scandals, we needed Fiers to go public. While you can fairly point out Fiers didn’t go public when he was winning a World Series, criticizing him for going public is plain wrong because his going public has ultimately helped the game.
More than that, after dealing with this issue internally with three organizations for three years, and nothing having come of it, Fiers finally did what had to be done. He went public.
In the end, if you want to criticize anyone for that, blame Rob Manfred and the front offices of the Astros, Tigers, and Athletics because it was their relative inaction which led to this.
How can it be the New York Mets still have not named a replacement for Carlos Beltran?
Keep in mind, the Mets are in a completely different situation here than than the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox.
The Astros knew the hammer was going to come down from Major League Baseball, but they presumably did not know or could be quite sure they’d lose AJ Hinch for the year.
Seeing the rulings, the Astros moved quickly, and they fired Hinch to not just attempt to turn the page on the scandal, but to also figure out who was going to be their manager in 2020 and beyond.
The Red Sox seeing Alex Cora‘s level of involvement and knowing he was likely going to face harsher penalties than Hinch fired Cora the day after the report, and they immediately began their search for a new manager.
The Mets waited a few days, and they yielded to what was really a vocal demand from a minority to fire Beltran. Keep in mind, the Mets fired Beltran despite his not being suspended for the 2020 season.
The Astros and Red Sox knew they were going to be without their managers, and they acted accordingly. The Mets did something they did not have to do, and worse yet, they didn’t have a replacement immediately in mind.
Consider, unlike the Astros and Red Sox, the Mets had undertaken a search this offseason to hire a new manager to replace Mickey Callaway.
The Mets know or should know who can be a manager of the Mets. They also know or should know who could handle this situation. And yes, with this being New York and the Mets, this is something which should have been contemplated.
Herein lies the problem.
They’re also not going back into their candidate pool. Eduardo Perez was one of the finalists, and he has not been contacted again. The Milwaukee Brewers see their bench coach Pat Murphy as an ideal fit, but the Mets aren’t repursuing him.
After reading Mike Puma’s report in the New York Post, the Mets are essentially paralyzed “as team executives try to deduce the best way to please the prospective new boss.”
While the Mets are scared about what Cohen will think about a new hire, they’ve failed to realize he’s watching them fumbling through this process.
Like all of us, Cohen sees the Mets being completely reactionary and not remotely proactive in their handling of Beltran. We all see the Mets fire Beltran without a plan in place.
The Mets could’ve fired Beltran, and they could’ve held up Rojas as their new manager showing us all their complete faith in him. We could’ve heard why DeFrancesco has the skills to lead the Mets starting in 2020. We could’ve heard about Meulen’s championship pedigree, and why they knew in the short time he’s been with the organization why he was the man for the job.
Of course, that’s not happening because the Mets fired Beltran without a plan. In fact, they fired him without having a clue what direction they’d like to go. The only thing they knew was Cohen was lurking on the horizon, and he was judging them.
When you break it all down, Brodie Van Wagenen’s and Jeff Wilpon’s entire handling of this situation has been inept, and with each passing day, they’re showing Cohen and the whole baseball world, they should not be entrusted with running a baseball organization.
With Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox now agreeing to part ways, that leaves Carlos Beltran as the only individual named in the Astros investigation who is still employed in baseball. This means the heat is going to be ratcheted up on him.
Already, we have heard calls for Beltran to be fired by the Mets. We’re also seeing the media call for Beltran to come clean and tell the truth.
This is a sampling of the swirling opinions about Beltran’s involvement and his prior statements to reporters disavowing knowledge of the Astros sign stealing measures.
Specifically, Beltran texted Joel Sherman of the New York Post, “I’m not aware of that camera. We were studying the opposite team every day.” With all due respect to Andy Martino of SNY, it is hard to believe he wasn’t lying when he said this.
That said, it is possible he didn’t lie, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. The media believes Beltran lied to them and their brethren, and they are owed a correction.
To be fair, the reporters have a very valid point, especially since it is their job to seek and report the truth. However, the problem is it appears Beltran isn’t permitted to say anything at all.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) January 14, 2020
As we see with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball has requested the Dodgers and all of baseball “not to comment on any wrongdoings during the 2017 World Series.”
As reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN, “Multiple ownership-level sources told ESPN that dissatisfaction with the penalties had emerged following a conference call with Manfred, in which he explained how the Astros would be disciplined, then told teams to keep their thoughts to themselves.”
Effectively speaking, for better or worse, Major League Baseball has placed a gag order on everyone. If that is truly the case, it is eminently possible, how could Beltrán possibly speak to the press about his involvement?
More to the point, why would Beltrán potentially incur Major League Baseball’s wrath by speaking at a time when Baseball very clearly wants no one talking about the scandal?
At this moment, Beltran is really awaiting direction from Major League Baseball, and more importantly, direction from the New York Mets. Keep in mind, if the Mets wanted Beltran to speak, he would’ve already spoken.
In the end, the calls for Beltran are all well and good, but at the end of the day, the Mets manager cannot speak unless otherwise directed by Mets ownership and permitted by Major League Baseball. Until such time, we have to sit and wait until he is permitted to say what apparently needs to be said. When that’ll happen is anyone’s guess.
Major League Baseball had concluded its investigation, and they have levied their penalties against the Houston Astros. This has led to the firing of AJ Hinch, and based upon what was contained in Major League Baseball’s report, it is safe to assume that not only is Alex Cora is eventually going to be handed his own severe punishment, but his days as the manager of the Boston Red Sox are likely over.
That leaves Carlos Beltran as the only current Major League manager named in the report who has not faced nor will face any discipline.
The reason behind Beltran not facing any discipline was Major League Baseball going out of its way to not suspend any of the players caught in the sign stealing scandal. In 2017, Beltran was a player, which means he is not subject to discipline.
Despite that, there has been a push for the Mets to fire their new manager. Chris Carlin attempted to conjure up Beltran being part of both a conspiracy and cover-up on his ESPN Radio program. It is also being discussed all over WFAN with Boomer and Gio as well as Moose and Maggie making it topics for discussion. On that point, like Carlin, Boomer said the Mets should fire Beltran.
While the topic certainly is going to drive ratings and discussions, at the end of the day, you really have to wonder why exactly the Mets should fire Beltran.
Right off the bat, you could say it is going to be a distraction. It’s a fair point as it is going to be a topic for discussion during Spring Training when Beltran meets with the press. However, that’s really only going to be it.
Remember, one of the purported reasons not to sign Jose Reyes was his domestic violence was going to be a distraction. It was for maybe a week or two. Beyond that, Citi Field was alive with Jose chants, reporters wrote articles advocating for him to be signed and to receive more playing time, and at the end of the day, he was nominated for the Marvin Miller Award.
Keep in mind this story will die quickly. In terms of Mets Spring Training, this scandal is going to die very quickly as the Mets have Yoenis Cespedes return and Jed Lowrie‘s health to cover amongst the myriad of issues which always arise in St. Lucie during February and March.
Of course, there’s an ethical issue to discuss. After all, cheating in sports (and life) has always been viewed distasteful, and an organization should not be led by an individual who is so willing to skirt the rules to their own benefit.
On that higher moral note, Jeff Wilpon has his own history of distasteful conduct including firing an unwed pregnant woman. The Mets eventual new owner, Steve Cohen, paid a $1.2 billion fine, the largest fine ever levied, for insider trading.
Like it or not, the Mets have not shown any had any sort of an ethical litmus test for their ownership, front office, or players. It would now be bizarre to hold their manager up to some standard not present anywhere else in the organization.
Beyond that, no one is quite sure what Beltran even did. Major League Baseball‘s report stated, “a group of players, including Carlos Beltrán, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter.” It then said Cora devised the system and had the players execute it.
Be careful of what it did and did not say. It said Beltran discussed better decoding and communication. It did not say he was responsible for the illegal technological set-up, nor did it specifically name him as one of the players relaying messages. It’s possible he had a hand in all of it, but he was not specifically named for anything other than wanting a better system.
When it was the New York Giants with Bobby Thompson, it was the “Shot Heard Round the World.” With the Astros, it’s now being treated as the biggest scandal in Major League history this side of the Black Sox.
It is a slippery slope when you penalize and fire people for what you think they did. Honestly, many assume the worse with Beltran, but those assumptions are not present in the report. If you are going to take the position his even being a part of it is enough to want him gone from the team, the same is then true for J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick, each of whom were members of the 2017 and 2018 Houston Astros teams.
Overall, Beltran was part of a team who cheated and won a World Series. After that, he was a member of the New York Yankees front office as an advisor to Brian Cashman. Knowing Major League Baseball was conducting this investigation and fully knowing Beltran may be implicated in that investigation, the New York Mets hired him to be their manager.
While some may want to trump up the report to be more than it was, fact is the Mets hired Beltran with their eyes fully opened. When they did hire him, Brodie Van Wagenen said, “Carlos has an extremely high baseball IQ. He has an appetite to collaborate and he’s a mentor, and he’s a communicator from the 25th man on the roster to the first. From our veteran players to our minor-league prospects, he cares about improving each player in that clubhouse.”
That is why he is the Mets manager, and even after the investigation all of this remains true. As a result, Carlos Beltran should remain as the Mets manager until he proves unfit for the job, or until he is further implicated as being anything other than a player who wanted to find a better way to steal signs.
GM Jeffrey Luhnow and Manager AJ Hinch were not cited as ringleaders, but they were suspended for a year. After the suspension, they were fired by the Astros owner, Jim Crane, who was cleared of any wrongdoing.
While Crane was cleared of any wrongdoing, the team was fined $5 million, and we were told that’s the most they could be fined. They’re also losing their first and second round picks over the next two drafts.
Overall, Alex Cora was painted as the ringleader, and his comeuppance is coming. When that comes is not the only question this investigation and levying of penalties invoke.
Major League Baseball wants you to know that $5 million is the most any team can be fined by the Commissioner. That is partially true. According to Article II, Section 3 (e), the Commissioner is limited to fining a club $5 million for “each offense.”
The Astros did not cheat just once. As noted in the report, they cheated throughout 2017 and into 2018 (more on that in a moment). They cheated in at least 81 homes games plus the postseason. With reports Hinch smashed the televisions, they cheated each time they rebuilt the system.
This was not an isolated occurrence. The Astros cheated multiple times per game, and they reaped the benefit of tens of millions of dollars. Really, it was more than that, and in the end, they were hit with a rounding error due to a purposefully narrow view of the constitution.
On another note, Major League Baseball once stripped the Dodgers away from Frank McCourt due to how he operated his team, and George Steinbrenner was banned from baseball stemming from his attempts to get out from under the Dave Winfield contract. While it’s true this scandal may not have arisen to the level of stripping ownership away, it is also fair to point out there is far more than just taking away money that could be done to an owner.
The report goes out of its way to say he knew nothing. That’s possible, but it also says the Astros had a “failure by the leaders of the baseball operations department and the Field Manager to adequately manage the employees under their supervision, to establish a culture in which adherence to the rules is ingrained in the fabric of the organization, and to stop bad behavior as soon as it occurred”
That culture was one established directly or indirectly by Crane, and yet, he was at least personally exonerated.
Now, it is very well possible he didn’t know what was occurring. However, as we saw with the Brandon Taubman attacks of a reporter, he showed everyone he did not care about what his employees did as long as the team was winning.
AJ HINCH AND ASTROS’ COACHING STAFF
It is just interesting how Hinch smashed televisions on multiple occasions to show his players how he disapproved of what they were doing. However, baseball also punished him for one year for his failure to tell his players to stop. In terms of the coaching staff, we are being led to believe it was only him and Cora (who is going to be dealt with later by baseball) who knew or had the power.
Why is it they all got a pass? Don’t the coaches have a similar responsibility to tell their players not to do certain things?
On that front, the report does indicate the commissioner is going to leave it to the Astros to deal with other employees, but seeing how Crane has responded to the questions, he’s done. In essence, Crane and baseball have no issue with anyone other than the manager and GM, and they want you to believe with them gone, the people who could conceive, carry out, and/or continue this cheating, are also gone. That’s hard to believe.
First and foremost, why was Carlos Beltran the only player mentioned? It was made clear he wasn’t the only one involved, and yet he was the only one singled out. Either name them all or none.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post has floated the idea of this hurting Beltran’s Hall of Fame candidacy, which is possible, while Chris Carlin of ESPN Radio has created in his mind a massive coverup and has demanded Beltran’s firing.
On that note, how is it whenever something in MLB happens, the Mets find a way to look bad? I’d also note why is it now incumbent on the Mets to fire their new manager?
ALEX CORA SET UP TO BE A FALL GUY
Reading the report, it is very clear Cora is going to be the fall guy for all of this. Not only was he with the 2017 Astros, but he was also with the 2018 Red Sox. As the report is written, we see baseball wants to make him the mastermind behind all of this.
The problem is the Red Sox were fined for similar actions in 2017, and as Logan Morrison said, the Astros had been doing this since 2014. Morrison also implicated the Yankees and Dodgers, which is interesting considering they are purportedly two of the victims of the cheating.
It should be noted Crane purchased the Astros in 2011 while Cora was working for Baseball Tonight in 2014. How are we to believe Cora did all of this when other teams did it long before he got there?
BASEBALL DIDN’ T WANT TO KNOW
If you read the report, Major League Baseball wants you to know the Astros stopped cheating during the 2018 season. That coincides with Cora being the manager of the Red Sox and Beltran working for the Yankees front office. Put another way, they were gone, so this was a convenient point to say the Astros stopped everything.
There’s a problem with that. Part of the reason there was an investigation into the sign stealing was actions by the Astros during the 2019 ALCS. Instead of banging on trash cans, there was whistling to tip off pitches.
It’s clear there was something still going on during the 2019 postseason. In fact, we heard the Nationals team was very careful during the World Series. Despite that, Major League Baseball wants you to believe this was isolated to just a little more than one season for the Astros and just the 2018 season for the Red Sox.
Basically, baseball is burying its head in the sand, and they don’t want anyone to delve further into the matter. We see that with reports over their threatening teams if they speak about this publicly. Overall, baseball wants you to believe this matter has been completely handled, and it is going away.
If the steroids scandal is any indication, acting like this is not going to allow this to go away, and in the end, people who are somehow lauding Manfred for his handling of the matter will be justifiably criticizing him.
With the Astros being stripped of their first and second round draft picks for each of the next two years, there is a real issue over free agency. With the way the rules are written, teams have to forfeit a draft pick. Looking at the Astros, they already have. Does this mean they can pursue free agents with reckless abandon knowing they’ve already lost the draft pick, or does the loss of the draft pick effectively mean they cannot sign players who have received a qualifying offer.
On that point, George Springer is set to be a free agent. If the Astros extend him a qualifying offer and he signs elsewhere, does this now mean the Astros have a backdoor way to get draft picks?
So far, that has not been made clear, which in the end, speaks to how haphazardly the report was constructed. Really, it was not about discovering the truth or levying penalties. No, it was about finding a fall guy and trying to present the matter as isolated and closed.
The Astros sign stealing scandal created a huge problem for Major League Baseball. By and through the commissioner, Rob Manfred, baseball wants you to know it conducted a full investigation, and really the matter is closed. They even had a coordinated effort with the subsequent firings of Hinch and Luhnow by Crane.
And yet, baseball purposefully did not conduct an investigation into the full breadth of the Astros sign stealing, nor have they looked into it across the sport, at least not yet. They also really failed to punish the Astros financially in a way which will discourage them or another team from doing this or something similar ever again.
In the short term, it does seem baseball is controlling the message, and they have placated many. However, with the way this was all handled, it should not be a surprise to any if these problems re-emerge in the ensuing days, weeks, or months.
Aside from the 22 games of experience Tim Bogar has with the 2014 Texas Rangers, the Mets managerial field is filled with inexperienced candidates. Despite that being the case, the Mets have a very interesting group of candidates with Eduardo Perez perhaps being the person whom the Mets should hire.
In an era of analytics, you want someone who is well versed in advanced data. With Perez being a part of the ESPN “Nerdcasts,” you know he is well versed in analytics. However, when it comes to analytics, it is not just being well versed in them. In fact, like the Boston Globe reported, Alex Cora showed with the 2018 Boston Red Sox it’s not just knowing analytics. It is also about how about how to best utilize them, getting the best people into the organization to handle them, and finally, finding out those things you don’t know.
With respect to Perez, he knows all of this. He knows this from his dealing with the people at MLB and other organizations who compile the data. He knows that from working with ESPN and MLB Radio. He also knows that from his being the Astros Bench Coach when Jeff Luhnow and the current analytically driven people were brought to the organization.
That is one aspect currently overlooked with Perez. He has experience as a coach and manager. From 2008 – 2009, he was the manager of Leones de Ponce of the Puerto Rican Winter League. In 2008, his team won the championship, and his team would win the league title. He would serve other roles from there including the Marlins hitting coach, and as discussed above, the Astros bench coach. It should be noted Perez resigned to spend time with his family.
Perez returned to ESPN. On that front, Perez has developed media savvy. In an era when the manager does pre-game and post-game press conferences, that ability is of vital importance. For the Mets, it is all the more important considering the incident Mickey Callaway had with reporters earlier this year.
Part of Perez’s media savvy is understanding people. Recently, while co-hosting The Leadoff Spot with former Mets General Manager Steve Phillips, Perez was asked by Phillips about the importance of being bilingual. Perez responded it isn’t about being just bilingual, but rather being multicultural. It’s understanding the players from Puerto Rico have a difference experience than those from the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. It’s also about understanding how the kid from the Midwest is different from the Northeast or California.
On the topic of his co-hosting a show with Steve Phillips, Perez has an opportunity to gain insight into how the Mets run their organization. He gets the chance to hear from someone who was a part of the Mets organization for 13 years on how the team operates and how best to navigate his way around the organization.
Any manager who is hired by the team is going to be confronted by that right away as the team is rumored to want to keep some of their coaches from last year’s Mets team. Those coaches include Chili Davis and Gary Disarcina, who were teammates of Perez from his playing days.
With Perez’s playing days, coaching career, and time spent in the media, he has been a baseball lifer. In fact, his being a baseball lifer goes all the way back to his being the son of Hall of Famer Tony Perez. When you think about it, Perez has spent his entire life not just in baseball, but around some of the greatest players who have ever played the game.
When you break it down, Perez has a wealth of knowledge and experience. With all that he brings to the table, he is going to be a vital asset to whoever hires him. If reports are to be believed, that is going to be the Mets. If true, the Mets are going to get an intelligent communicator who knows this game just as well as anyone. Overall, he just might be the best possible candidate for this job, and the Mets will be much better off for having hired him.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were staring down a 2-1 series deficit with Max Scherzer set to take the mound in Game 4. With Patrick Corbin on the mound, the Dodgers were in serious trouble. That’s when they put together a huge two out rally capped off by a Justin Turner homer effectively putting the game out of reach:
— #BeatTheNats (@OCDodgerFans) October 7, 2019
This was just the latest big hit from Turner. In his postseason career, he is hitting .316/.414/.518. That includes him being named the 2017 NLCS co-MVP. What is interesting is that wasn’t his best postseason series. In fact, his best postseason series was the 2015 NLDS against the Mets where he hit .526/.550/.842.
When we see the success of players like Turner, Collin McHugh, Hansel Robles, and others, it presents an opportunity to look at the Mets decision making process. We should be looking at why the Mets kept players who did not produce at all over them. We should be asking why these players found success at these levels away from the Mets that they did not here.
Instead, we see the oddest position emerge. Instead of an analysis, we see something akin to good for these players, and that these players could not have had that success here. For some reason, that is offered as a defense of the Mets and not a condemnation.
We can dig deeper into each player and see why they did or did not succeed. With McHugh, he’s with the Astros organization who have found a way of working with pitchers in terms of sequencing and grips to get the most of of pitchers. Robles was really just a matter of a team being more judicious in their use of him.
As for Turner, this was the beginning of a process which began with his working with Marlon Byrd during the 2013 season. Rather than see where that could lead, the Mets non-tendered him over what was $1 million. Turner would go off to the Dodgers where he’s been a very good player.
Even if Turner would not have had the opportunity to play and prove himself in 2014, he would have in 2015 when David Wright succumbed to spinal stenosis. However, that is besides the point. The point is Turner would have at least been a good utility player who still had upside even if he couldn’t play everyday.
That also overlooks the core problem here. The Mets have had an ability to find talented players, and they have found a way to develop that talent. What they haven’t done is find a way to be patient with that talent, and eventually they make penny wise pound foolish decisions. As the case with Travis d’Arnaud, we’ve seen rage cutting decisions.
In the end, saying a player could not have succeeded with the Mets is far from a defense of the team. Rather, it is perhaps the harshest criticism you could levy upon the team.
Well, the Mets postseason hopes are officially over leaving them to play out the string and for them to set some personal accomplishments. In between, there were some real good things both in this series and the season:
1. The end of the season was put off a game because Michael Conforto came up huge. He once again showed himself a cornerstone player and one who the Mets should be working to keep around for his entire career.
2. The Mets should also be working to keep Zack Wheeler a Met past this season. He had another great outing in an extremely strong finish to the season. He wants to remain a Met, and the Mets need him in the rotation to win next year.
3. That said, it was possible yesterday was a good-bye to both Wheeler and Curtis Granderson. There was a sense of melancholy with Granderson’s homer possibly being his last at-bat in Citi Field and it putting the loss on Wheeler in his last start as a Met.
4. On the topic of good-byes, Jeff McNeil‘s year is done after he broke his wrist when getting hit with a pitch. Fortunately, he has time to heal up and get ready to be the player he has been this year. The Mets need him to be that player next year because when he is he is the more indispensable position player on this roster.
5. One pitcher who the Mets did extend was Jacob deGrom, who cemented his case for the Cy Young by running his scoreless inning streak to 23 innings. He will become the first Mets pitcher to win consecutive Cy Youngs putting him on the pantheon of Mets great pitchers.
6. That list includes Jerry Koosman who is getting his number retired by the team. If the Mets are going to lower their standards for retiring numbers, Koosman was the right place to start.
7. As noted in an earlier article, if Koosman is going to get his number retired, the door is now open for the Mets to retire the numbers of David Wright, Gary Carter, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, and John Franco.
8. It has been great to see the Mets move forward with honoring their history. That should also be coupled by paying more attention to their Hall of Fame. That is not just improving upon it. It is also putting more players in that Hall of Fame including Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, and Bobby Valentine.
9. It should also include Gary Cohen and Howie Rose. On that note with Marty Brennaman retiring from the Reds, we are reminded of how lucky we are as Mets fans to have them call games. We are also lucky on the radio side, it has gone from Bob Murphy to Gary Cohen to Howie Rose.
10. On the subject of lucky, we have been lucky to see Pete Alonso this season. He has been a great player for the Mets setting records. It’s more than just the rookie home run records. He is also his tying Johnny Mize and Willie Mays for the most homers by a New York National League player.
11. He also joins a group including Mays, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, and Ralph Kiner in having 51 homers and 118 RBI in a season before the age of 25. That puts Alonso in a group of Hall of Fame players. It will fun to see what he has in store for next year.
13. With respect to Callaway, he has done enough to stick around another year. We’ve seen him get everything out of this team he could. Young players like Alonso and Amed Rosario have improved. We’ve seen deGrom get to a new level, and the starters be healthy for two years running. That is really no small task.
14. That said, there is enough to get rid of him. At the end of the day, if he is going to be replaced, we need to see him be replaced with an Alex Cora type. The Mets need a manager who is going to push the front office and help implement things needed to win. If they’re not going to do that firing Callaway does little more than change the narrative.
15. Speaking of narratives, the Mets don’t spend. They don’t. People need to stop insisting they do. The payroll is inflated by over $36 million owed to Yoenis Cespedes and Wright which has not been reinvested in this team.
16. The Mets have a number of holes to fill between the bullpen and the rotation. That’s before we even consider the Mets even contemplating trading Noah Syndergaard. They’re also not going to be bailed out by the insurance for Cespedes. That’s a lot of holes to fill without the money or prospects. That’s a tall task for even a competent GM. For Brodie Van Wagenen, it’s impossible.
17. One idea is to put Seth Lugo back in the rotation. Doing that would only leave a gaping hole in the bullpen. That’s a hole all the bigger when you consider Edwin Diaz has allowed as many homers this year as Armando Benitez did in his worst two seasons combined. Keep in mind those two seasons were records for the Mets.
18. There were some bright spots this season which perhaps none of them being bigger than Paul Sewald finally getting his first Major League win.
19. With Sewald getting the win and other highlights, this has been an entertaining season. It is not too dissimilar from the 1996 season where we saw Bernard Gilkey, Todd Hundley, and Lance Johnson having great personal years in a year where the Mets would fall short.
20. And that’s what happened, the Mets fell short, and as Brodie Van Wagenen said himself on WFAN falling short like this would be a disappointment. Just remember those words as everyone, including the Mets themselves, try to spin this season and the future.
When Jim Riggleman was hired as the bench coach this past offseason, the running joke was the Mets hired their interim manager. With the Mets faltering, Mickey Callaway‘s seat grows hotter by the day, and it would appear this is less of a joke than it is becoming a reality. Or is it?
Not only is Rojas a rising star, baseball runs through his veins. From the moment he was born, baseball encapsulated his entire life. This is the way things are when you grow up in country like the Dominican Republic. It’s also that way when your father is famed player and manager Felipe Alou, and your brother is Moises Alou. Taking a look at the bloodlines, you could almost see being a Major League manager as Rojas’ destiny.
For his part, Rojas believed this upbringing has influenced not just his career choice but also his views. Rojas would tell Anthony Dicomo of MLB.com, “Growing up in that environment was very impactful, very influential in my baseball growth. Just being born in a baseball atmosphere, right away opening my eyes on baseball from the beginning of my understanding was just really helpful. Right away, I wanted to follow my brothers’ steps. I wanted to follow the family’s steps.”
Obviously, Rojas was never the baseball player he brother was. From 1999 – 2005, he was a part of the Orioles, Marlins, and eventually Expos farm systems. He’d play 37 games for the Expos Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2004 hitting .240/.315/.352. Two years later, Rojas would begin his managerial career for the Expos Dominican Summer League team.
After that one season, the Mets jumped on Rojas, and they made him their DSL Manager for one season. The team then brought him stateside to serve as a coach for two years in the Gulf Coast League. Finally, in 2011, at the age of 29, Rojas would be named the manager of that same affiliate. From that point until this year, Rojas has been a manager in the Mets farm system.
During his time as a manager in the Mets system, he has managed a number of Mets prospects including current Mets Pete Alonso, Tyler Bashlor, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Drew Gagnon, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario, and Daniel Zamora. Put another way, Rojas has helped develop the current Mets core become not just Major League players, but in some instances, All-Star caliber players.
He’s certainly left an impression on each of these players. When hired, Alonso shared a story about Rojas’ enthusiasm for his players saying, “He was jumping up and down, arms waving in the air. I honestly think Luis was happier than [Nick Sergakis].”
But it’s more than enthusiasm and relationships, Rojas can coach. It’s one of the reasons why the Mets see him as a rising star and why they were so enthusiastic to name him the team’s first ever quality control coach. In addition to those duties, he is also the team’s outfield coach.
We are seeing his impact as an outfield coach right now. Entering this season, McNeil had played all of 26.1 innings in left field over a six year span. It was up to Rojas to get McNeil up to speed. As he explained, Rojas’ plan was to begin “with the basics: pre-pitch, stance, route, reads off the bat and we progress into other things that we are taking here into camp and then some of the drills that we bring in with some of the outfielders.” (NY Post).
With Rojas coaching McNeil, McNeil has quickly become good in the outfield with a 2 DRS, which is sixth best in the league. It’s also important to note when Conforto was drafted, the knock on him was his defense. He worked with Rojas on his defense, and he has been really good out there. Now that he’s reunited with Rojas, Conforto has a 3 DRS which is good for sixth best in the majors.Credit is due to the players, but they got to that point because they are working with an excellent coach.
Rojas is not just a coach who is able to connect with this players, he is also comfortable not just with analyzing advanced data, but also putting it in terms which are useful to the players. As noted by MMO‘s Michael Mayer, it is Rojas’ responsibility to streamline the data to the players.
While comparisons of this nature tend to be unfairly lofty, in some ways Rojas does remind you of Alex Cora. Rojas has shown the ability to understand not just the fundamental aspects of the game, but he is also well versed and comfortable handling analytical data. He is an excellent communicator and coach. He loves the game, and he loves his players.
Whenever the time comes, Rojas should prove to be a good manager for the Mets. He is everything an organization and its players want in a manager. Being the communicator he is, he should also be able to handle the press well. Hopefully, another team doesn’t realize what the Mets have in Rojas and grab him before the time the Mets have a chance to elevate him into the manager’s role he was destined to be seemingly since the day he was born.
The NLCS and the ALCS have been riveting series so far with many storylines and subplots. After each and every game, there is so much to unpack and discuss. In many ways, these series are all that is great about baseball.
The Brewers are trying to bullpen their way through the postseason. Their efforts reached their peak yesterday with Craig Counsell pulling Wade Miley after he walked Cody Bellinger, so he could insert Brandon Woodruff. The obvious goal there was to get the right-handed Woodruff in against a predominantly right-handed lineup.
The Dodgers have been dealing with the drama with Manny Machado not hustling and making dirty plays in the field. Through all of it, Machado has been the best player in this series, and in a 13 inning Game 4 victory, he made the hustle plays to win the game. In addition to Machado, the Dodgers have the usual postseason issues related to Clayton Kershaw, who followed a bad start with a gem yesterday.
In the ALCS, the Astros appeared poised to streamroll the Red Sox. In Game 1, Chris Sale didn’t have his velocity, and he went to the hospital after the game. In that game, the Astros beat up on what is a poor Red Sox bullpen. It seemed as if this was going to be a recurring theme in this series except it hasn’t. The Red Sox have won three straight games with the Red Sox taking advantage of the Astros bullpen while Alex Cora has used a deft touch, including his use of Rick Porcello in the pen, to navigate his way through each game even with Craig Kimbrel nearly pulling an Armando Benitez each game.
We should be talking about each and every single thing from each of these series. We should be talking about George Springer having another phenomenal postseason run. Same thing for Justin Turner. Orlando Arcia is playing at another level this postseason. There are so many great stories and more, and today, we’re not talking about any of them.
No, we’re talking about Joe West because he made a decision which may have changed the course of not just Game 4 of the ALCS but the entire series.
This was undoubtedly an out. Three people hit Betts’ glove. pic.twitter.com/SgBqCzI0Uj
— 617 Report (@617Report) October 18, 2018
Mookie Betts was about to rob Jose Altuve of a two run homer until his glove hit the hands of some fans in the stands. While there may not have been a definitive video, it is about 99 percent certain Betts reached into the stands, which means pursuant to MLB rules, it should have been a home run.
Before discussing further, it’s important to see West’s position. It is best shown in this video:
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) October 18, 2018
Joe West is nowhere near position to make that call. Seeing him out there, it was clearly impossible for him to get into the correct position. The right field umpire is really in no man’s land. and he felt comfortable enough to make a series changing call. In addition, MLB did not have enough cameras in place to properly analyze a call which was still fairly obvious.
Really, unless you are from Boston, an MLB replay official, Joe West, or a horrid analyst like Billy Ripken, you knew it was not fan interference. And yet, here we are. Stuck with a bad call in what should be a great series. Worse yet, instead of discussing all the great things which are happening in the postseason, we are focusing on Joe West.
Time and again, we hear from Rob Manfred about all that is wrong with baseball. He has publicly chastised Mike Trout for not being available for MLB promotions. And yet, while he’s focusing on all that’s wrong and blaming players for his marketing department not being able to promote players, he allows Joe West to go out there and be Joe West and not make sure there are enough cameras in place to mitigate against that.