Sometimes, rule changes initially made by baseball are met with immediate disdain, and the concerns about these rule changes are largely proven false. The best example of this has been the divisional and wild card eras. These changes actually proved beneficial for the game.
Then, there are changes where it seemed like a great idea, but it hurt the game. A classic example there is the automatic walk. Sure, we don’t notice it anymore, but with the loss of the automatic walk we lost the anything can happen at anytime moment in the game. The random wild pitch or batter swinging at a ball just out of the zone has forever been eliminated
Remember, what makes baseball truly great is that every pitch means so much and that in any moment anything can happen you have never before seen. With the automatic walk, that was gone forever. That’s just what Rob Manfred has sought to do as the commissioner. He is looking to take away what makes baseball great.
Manfred keeps pushing his agenda to try to change the game while failing to do what actually needs to be done to grow the game. In the end, we are getting some many rule changes, perhaps more than at any other point in Major League history, forever changing the game and making it almost a new sport:
- Automatic Walks
- Elimination of LOOGYs
- Universal DH
- Pitch Clock
- Bigger Bases
- Expanded Postseason
Beyond that, Manfred wants the ability to implement more rule changes in 2023 and beyond with a 45 day notice to the players. You can only imagine what flat out dumb ideas Manfred will come up with to further ruin the game.
The sad part is this does nothing to actually accomplish the stated goal of increasing offense. It’s not like eliminating the shift or adding a universal DH is going to make Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer suddenly forget how to pitch. It doesn’t work that way, and in the end, all MLB is accomplishing is maybe adding an extra 1-2 runs per week . . . if that.
That’s the problem. As we see with the universal DH, it accomplishes nothing to actually increase the offense. Rather, what it does is eliminate the strategical aspect of the game. That is the part of the game which keeps fans engaged during the time between pitches. That’s the part that makes baseball interesting. That is what makes baseball great.
The sad part is MLB is undergoing all of these radical changes which have no impact while ignoring baseball’s real and very fixable problems. All MLB needed to do was to lift lockout restrictions, and they needed to be better at promoting the game through social media to help catch the attention of the younger fans they covet. They really, really suck at social media.
That should come as no surprise because the people in charge think the best way to grow the game is to fundamentally change it, piss off their core diehard fans, and to institute a lockout leading to the cancellation of games. At some point, we just have to ask ourselves what are we even doing anymore?
With the addition of Max Scherzer, it would appear the New York Mets rotation is set. After all, they already have Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, and Taijuan Walker returning. They also have two interesting young pitchers in Tylor Megill and David Peterson, who should be given every opportunity to battle for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Looking at Megill first, he was a revelation when he was called up to the majors. Through his first seven starts, he was 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA while walking 11 and striking out 39 over 35.1 innings. For some, he was reminiscent of deGrom, and you could argue it was more like John Maine in 2006. Whatever the case, he pitched well in what was then a pennant race.
After those seven starts, Megill tapered off as he reached innings he never reached in his career. Over his final 11 starts, Megill was 3-6 with a 6.13 ERA while averaging just under 5.0 innings per start. On the bright side, his control remained strong with 16 walks and 60 strikeouts over 54.1 innings. When you see him, there is something very promising there, and it’s incumbent on the Mets to best figure out how to allocate his innings to have him ready for September and October.
Peterson was a different story. He followed a promising albeit statistically troubling rookie season during the pandemic with a poor and injury shortened second year. It’s difficult to know when the oblique began to start bothering him and impacting his performance, but Peterson followed a season with a 4.52 FIP with a 4.78. We would see his 125 ERA+ fall more in line with the FIP dropping to a very poor 73 in 2021. While the strikeouts went up, the walks remained high.
With these two, Peterson has the better pedigree as he’s a former first round pick. However, Megill has better recent success. All told, they are both still a bit raw for the Major League level. You can certainly justify giving one or both of them a spot in the rotation. The better option would be to keep them both in Triple-A to allow them to further battle it out and get ready for when the Mets staff has an inevitable injury.
Keep in mind, the Mets needed 19 starting pitchers last season. Of course, part of that was using pitchers like Aaron Loup and Miguel Castro as openers, but the point remains they needed that many starters. Marcus Stroman was their only starter to make at least 30 starts, and he signed with the Chicago Cubs last season. What the Mets need more than anything right now is pitching depth, and with their having a lack of near Major League ready starters in the upper levels of the minors, they need to manufacture that depth.
With that in mind, the Mets need to sign another starter whenever this lockout ends. Keep in mind, future Hall of Famers Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw are still available. There are other interesting stopgap options as well, and of course, there is also Trevor Williams, who the Mets added at the trade deadline last year.
Whatever the case, the Mets have four very solid starting pitching options if they’re healthy. In fact, when they’re healthy, they’re the top four in the majors. That’s the key. They have to be healthy, and the Mets have to plan for the event they won’t be. That is exactly why Megill and Peterson should be positioned to start the year in Triple-A whenever they permit this 2022 season to begin.
In a surprise, the New York Mets hired Eric Chavez to be their hitting coach. Chavez, 44, had never been a Major League coach in his career, but notably, he was hired to be the New York Yankees assistant hitting coach for the 2022 season.
Now, this isn’t the Mets hiring someone right out from the Yankees. The Yankees had to grant permission, and to their credit, they did permit the Mets to hire him for a promoted role. Initially, there were thoughts on having him as the bench coach, but ultimately, the Mets opted to hire him as the hitting coach.
Still, it is quite telling, Chavez would leave a Yankees team and organization he was a part of for two years. Notably, in those two years, the Yankees did resurrect his career. He went from injury prone to nearing retirement to play four more years in the majors as a very productive role player.
Of course, that’s nothing to say of the relationship between Chavez and new Mets GM Billy Eppler. It was Eppler who believed in Chavez and was part of him signing with the Yankees. When Chavez retired, he worked with Eppler in the Yankees front office. When Eppler was hired as the Los Angeles Angels GM, he brought Chavez with him to the Angels. First, Chavez was a special assistant, and later, he was a Triple-A manager.
Chavez proved to be no more than an interim manager for Keith Johnson, who was promoted to the majors. Those 28 games were the full extent of Chavez’s coaching experience. After those 28 games, he was a managerial candidate for a few jobs, but ultimately, he would return to the Angels front office to work with Eppler until Eppler’s termination after the 2020 season.
Whether Chavez can be a hitting coach at the Major League level, or really any level, is anyone’s guess at this point. The Yankees seemed to believe he could, and obviously, the Mets did as well. However, it should be noted the New York Post did report the Mets could have three separate hitting coaches for the 2022 season. Between that and the bench coach rumors, that could lead you to surmise this was just a way to get Chavez over from the Bronx to the Mets in some capacity.
Whatever the case, the Mets found someone they wanted, and they were able to hire him away from the Yankees. Moreover, we see Eppler bringing over a confidant from his days with the Yankees and the Angels. Taken together, this symbolizes how things are different for the Mets.
Eppler is free as a GM to go out and get the guys he wants. Moreover, the team is able to go out and grab people they covet from other organizations. This is different for the Mets, and it is another example of why Francisco Lindor signed that contract extension last season and why Max Scherzer came to the Mets this offseason.
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post broke the news MLB Network has not renewed Ken Rosenthal’s contract. Rosenthal, himself, confirmed the story.
Can confirm MLB Network has decided not to bring me back. I’m grateful for the more than 12 years I spent there, and my enduring friendships with on-air personalities, producers and staff. I always strove to maintain my journalistic integrity, and my work reflects that. 1/2
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 4, 2022
It was more than just renewing his contract. Rosenthal saw his airtime and duties significantly dwindle after he was critical of Commissioner Rob Manfred’s handling of the COVID19 pandemic.
That’s how thin-skinned Manfred is. He got rid of perhaps the highest profiled reporter in the sport because he was critical of him. Keep in mind, it’s probably the one time it’s happened with Rosenthal. Like Glass Joe, Manfred couldn’t take one punch.
It didn’t matter to Manfred it exposed MLB Network as state run media. It also didn’t matter no one was going to side with him. What mattered was there was a slight, and he was going to get his revenge.
Really, this can’t bode well for the MLB lockout.
Scherzer took aim and unequivocally put the integrity of the game into the debate. He drew clear lines on how the players are fighting for it, and MLB is fighting to suppress player salaries.
Scherzer is far from alone in these sentiments. Therein lies the problem. Manfred sees and hears all of this, and we know he will go out for blood even when it’s not in his and the sport’s best interests.
Everything said by the players and the MLBPA will likely force Manfred to dig his heels in further. He will seek a way to have his revenge. In all likelihood, he will drag it out as long as he can to try to declare complete victory.
That’s exactly what he did with Rosenthal. He waited over a year, and after punishing him, he got rid of him for one comment. Considering the history with MLB and the MLBPA, things can be so much worse with the lockout.
Heading into the 2020 season, Jacob deGrom was definitively the best pitcher on the planet. He was coming off back-to-back Cy Young awards, and he was doing things only Hall of Fame pitchers do. Certainly, the Hall of Fame was on deGrom’s mind as he told us all he wanted to be an inner circle Hall of Famer.
Certainly, deGrom was well on his way to carving a path to the Hall of Fame. After all, he was fifth all-time in ERA+. He was bettering Tom Seaver‘s New York Mets records. He was otherworldly great. Think Pedro Martinez in 1999 and 2000.
Then, the pandemic struck. The 2020 season was shortened, and deGrom would suffer an injury which would just about end his chances of winning a third straight Cy Young. deGrom would being the 2021 season pitching better than he ever has, which is saying something. However, again injury would strike limiting deGrom to just 15 starts. Despite the injury, he still finished in the top 10 in the Cy Young voting.
However, for deGrom, it isn’t about Cy Youngs. Well, it is in part, but that is just part of the larger picture. Really, when it comes to deGrom’s career, it is about two things: (1) World Series rings; and (2) the Baseball Hall of Fame.
As of this moment, he has a 43.4 WAR with a 40.8 WAR7 and a 42.1 JAWS. The average Hall of Fame pitcher has a 73.0 WAR, 49.8 WAR, and a 61.4 JAWS. That puts the 33 year old deGrom in an interesting position.
Right now, he is 39.6 WAR behind the average Hall of Fame pitcher. For WAR7, he is only 6.4 behind the average Hall of Famer. He is 19.7 behind the average Hall of Famer in terms of JAWS. In some ways, that is actually achievable for deGrom.
Consider from 2018-2019, deGrom AVERAGED an 8.9 WAR (pitching only). If he puts together another two year stretch like that, and as we saw last year, he can, deGrom would have a 61.2 WAR. That puts him within an ear shot of the 73.0 mark. More than that, his peak numbers will be through the roof. He will have a 51.7 WAR7, which would be a giant step above the current standard. His JAWS would then be 56.5, which would be a hair behind the standard.
Keep in mind, narrative matters. As we see with players like Sandy Koufax having an absolutely dominant peak at a higher level than anyone else matters. That would certainly describe deGrom if he can put 2-3 great seasons under his belt.
On that front, this could be where Max Scherzer helps him. Scherzer was a pitcher who did not look like a Hall of Famer until he turned 28. From that point forward, he put together a stretch of nine consecutive Cy Young and Hall of Fame caliber seasons. If there is anyone who knows what a pitcher needs to do from their mid-30s to stay dominant towards their 40s, it is Scherzer.
With deGrom having a true peer in Scherzer in the rotation, not only will deGrom have a better opportunity to win a World Series, but he will also increase his Hall of Fame chances. Whenever the lockout ends, deGrom’s path towards the Hall of Fame and a World Series title will begin anew.
While Buck Showalter may not have been the right fit for the New York Mets job, this job was the perfect fit for him. This is a job where Showalter can cement his legacy, and depending on how everything goes, it’s possible he has a shot at the Hall of Fame.
As we have seen with the media coverage, Showalter has been well respected in the game. That goes to every media person, and we have seen former players Zack Britton, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, and Mark Teixeira speak highly of him. There are reasons why that is the case.
Showalter has his strengths. He is a good communicator. He develops players. He knows this game inside and out. No, he doesn’t know analytics well, and he has been adverse to them, but he’s a lifer who knows the game.
The biggest knock on Showalter is teams have won after he has left. The 1996 Yankees. The 2001 Diamondbacks. Both World Series championships came after Showalter has been fired. As we saw with the Britton issue in the ALDS, there are a number of reasons why Showalter hasn’t won a ring..
However, the Mets now present that opportunity. He has Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer atop the rotation, that’s even better than Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling (who Showalter didn’t win with). As we have seen before the lockout, Steve Cohen is going to do everything he can to win the 2022 World Series. He is spending like we haven’t seen a team spend in ages, perhaps ever.
This will be a Mets team built to win in the postseason. There is the vaunted top of the rotation. Francisco Lindor in year two. Brandon Nimmo moving to right field where he will thrive along Starling Marte. Pete Alonso hitting tape measure shots. The pieces are there, and there will be more to come. The challenge for Showalter will be to let his best players win instead of going to Jack McDowell or Ubaldo Jimenez.
If he is now truly receptive to analytics for the first time in his career, wonderful things can and will happen. His reward will be completely changing the narrative on his career. Now, Showalter will be the manager who builds winners and can take them over the top.
He will then have at least three Manager of the Year awards. By winning a World Series, he would join Bobby Cox, Jim Leyland, and Tony La Russa as the only managers to win three awards and a World Series. Leyland is the only one not in the Hall of Fame. If Showalter were to win two World Series, he would join Sparky Anderson, Tommy Lasorda, Joe Torre, and La Russa as the only managers to win multiple Manager of the Year awards and multiple World Series.
The Mets will put Showalter in a position to win those World Series titles. That will come in the form of both players and with information. Everything will be there for Showalter. If he is willing to grow as a manager and accept the more collaborative role, he will get that elusive ring, and quite possibly, he will be enshrined in Cooperstown.
October 4, 2016. Rogers Centre. American League Wild Card Game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays tie the score 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth. In the seventh inning, Buck Showalter used Donnie Hart to relieve Mychal Givens in the seventh. He went to Brad Brach in the eighth and ninth. When Brach was in trouble in the ninth, Showalter went to Darren O’Day. After using Brian Duensing to record an out in the 11th, Showalter went to Ubadlo Jimenez, who would lose the game.
The Orioles would be eliminated from the postseason, and it all happened while Zack Britton waited around for a save opportunity. That year, Britton was unequivocally the best reliever in baseball with a 0.54 ERA. He was awesome, but with elimination on the line, Showalter went with a number of different pitchers including Jimenez, a starter.
Buck: "Playing on the road had something to do with it too."
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) October 5, 2016
This was not an isolated instance in Showalter’s career. Go back to Game 5 of the ALDS. After pushing David Cone too far, the game was tied in the bottom of the eighth. Instead of going to John Wetteland, he opted for Jack McDowell, a starter. McDowell would lose the game in the 11th.
A lot changed in baseball from 1995 until 2016, and yet, Showalter hadn’t changed. Yes, there were instances he used a closer in a non-save situation on the road (Matt Mantei, Game 4 NLDS), but ultimately, this is who Showalter has been for better or for worse. He is not one to worry about leverage, stats, etc. He is going to manage by his guy more than anything else. As he puts it, he wants to use them to verify himself, not the other way around.
That’s not to say he hasn’t or won’t evolve. After all, his Orioles teams did implement shifting, and in an attempt to put his team in the best position to win, they tracked the results all season. However, when all is said and done, he’s going to do what he thinks is best. Again, this works at times and fails other times.
Here’s the big problem. He would be working for Sandy Alderson and Billy Eppler. Alderson notoriously wanted to minimize the manger role, and he wants constant input. It was something which beleaguered former Mets manager Luis Rojas, who had to strictly follow the scripts given to him.
Eppler was the Los Angeles Angels General Manager when Mike Scioscia “stepped down.” He then went with a more analytical and modern manager in Brad Ausmus, who was replaced after one season when the owner wanted Joe Maddon.
Another note here with Alderson and Eppler is the type of team they are building. They are clearly going heavy on older veterans in an attempt to win now. Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte, and Max Scherzer are all in their 30s and have played for several years. That has usually been a bad mix for Showalter.
As noted when he was fired by the Arizona Diamondbacks, their veteran laden roster needed less of a disciplinarian and more of a player’s manager. That’s been his career. He is exceptional with younger teams teaching them the right way to play. He gets the most out of them. After a while, his personality and style of managing tends to wear on players, and he’s out.
None of this is to say he’s not a good manager. Showalter is a very good manager. If this were the 2019 Mets, he was a perfect fit for that younger team learning how to win. This is not that team. This is a very veteran team who needs a manager better suited to getting top performances from top players. They need more of a collaborator with the front office who will demand it.
Who the Mets new manager should be remains a very good debate. If they do wind up hiring Showalter, they will certainly win games. However, at the end of the day, this is a poor fit with Showalter and the Mets being better suited to finding a different match.
The New York Mets slipped the signing of Max Scherzer in under the wire before the owners voted unanimously for a lockout. That means they officially can’t pursue free agents and can’t make trades (again, not officially), so they now need to turn their attention elsewhere.
That’s probably a good thing for this team because they need a manager. Really, aside from having Jeremy Hefner as pitching coach, they need to assemble an entire coaching staff.
It seems the early odds-on favorite is Brad Ausmus. Sandy Alderson wanted to hire him previously. Billy Eppler did hire him before he was told to fire him. It’s assumed Steve Cohen doesn’t want a first time manager.
The popular choice seems to be Buck Showalter, but it’s hard to see the fit. Alderson wants to script and control managers, and Showalter isn’t that guy. Also, Eppler fired Mike Scioscia, who was very much cut from the same cloth as Showalter.
There are bound to be many names we haven’t considered. After all, that’s what we saw with the front office search.
While it’ll probably never happen, it’ll be great to see Willie Randolph‘s name in the mix. We know he can handle New York, and he has unfinished business here. It would be great to see him get another chance.
Overall, we don’t know who the Mets are targeting. What we do know is the players are locked out, and they probably will be for some time. With that being the case, the Mets are probably going to go full bore trying to hire a new manager.
With Javier Báez signing with the Detroit Tigers, the New York Mets are likely still looking for another infielder. One of the issues the Mets have is the pure second and third base options aren’t all that good.
The free agent shortstop class is so deep, and if the Mets could offer enough money, they could entice a shortstop to move to third. As we saw with Max Scherzer, the Mets have the money and are willing to offer it.
Hopefully, the Mets are one of those teams as they still need to address third base. Given how Story has seen his once elite defense at short go from an 18 OAA two years ago to a -7 last year, it’s probably time for a switch for the 29 year old.
The decline coincided with him losing just a little bit of burst defensively. His speed has fallen from elite to good. That drop may impact his ability to play short but not third.
If you’re Story, the Mets are a good place to make that transition. Their shifting and positioning were extremely effective in putting players in a good position to make a play. He also gets to play next to Francisco Lindor who covers a lot of ground making his life a little easier.
A Lindor/Story left side of the infield has the potential to be elite defensively. It could also be very good offensively.
On this topic, let’s get one thing out of the way. There’s no reason to be concerned about Story leaving Coors Field. If you can hit at Coors, you can hit.
Of course, this refers to neutralized stats. In a down year at the plate, Story was a 103 OPS+. His career mark is 112. Generally speaking, he’s an above average hitter.
This is seen through the stats available on Baseball Savant. He hits the ball very hard, and he’s capable of squaring it up. Really looking at everything, there’s no overt reason why he had a down year by his standards, which means, he’s really likely going to go back to being the quality hitter he is.
If Story is willing to make the switch, he’d probably succeed in his attempts more in New York than anywhere else. He’s got the defensive potential and bat to be a star with the Mets. In many ways, it makes sense for both sides, and it seems like it could be a good fit.
If you want to know the importance of what the Max Scherzer signing with the New York Mets is, look to the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. That’s really the last time we saw this.
The Diamondbacks had added Curt Schilling at the 2000 trade deadline, but that team couldn’t stay in the race. That wouldn’t be an issue the following season.
Schilling combined with Randy Johnson to be one of the most lethal, if not the most lethal co-aces atop a rotation. The result was a 92 win season.
It’s difficult to argue they didn’t do it themselves. Schilling and Johnson both pitched over 249 innings and had an ERA under 3.00. The rest of the rotation struggled, and the bullpen wasn’t great aside from Byung-Hun Kim and Bret Prinz.
Offensively, that was one of the worst teams you could imagine for a World Series winner. Consider, Luis Gonzalez had a phenomenal year hitting 57 homers, and they still only had a team 97 wRC+.
That’s what having two of the best pitchers in all of baseball means. Their innings and greatness masks so much. Case-in-point, that team was 52-18 when Schilling and Johnson pitched, and they were 40-52 when they didn’t.
It was a feat replicated in the postseason. The Diamondbacks were 9-2 when they pitched, and they were 2-4 when they didn’t.
Good pitching beats good hitting. Great pitching wins World Series nearly single-handedly. That was the case in 2001, and it may be the case again in 2022.
With all due respect to Schilling and Johnson, if Jacob deGrom is healthy, deGrom and Scherzer are a more formidable duo.
Consider this. Schilling’s best ERA+ was 159, and his best FIP was 2.40. deGrom has bested that ERA+ three times and the FIP twice. Scherzer had a better ERA+ three times.
Johnson was on a different level than Schilling with a career best 197 ERA+ and 2.04 FIP. deGrom bettered than ERA+ and FIP once, and it would’ve been twice if he was healthy in 2021.
In addition to deGrom and Scherzer being the better duo, the 2022 Mets promise to be a better roster. This team is not done with their offseason, and they still have players like Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, and Brandon Nimmo.
With deGrom and Scherzer, this Mets team is already a World Series contender. We need look no further than the 2001 Diamondbacks as proof of that. How great they will be will be determined by the rest of this offseason.