Jan 05

Losing DePodesta Will Impact Browns More Than Mets

It was interesting to see the Cleveland Browns hire Mets assistant GM Paul DePodesta from the Mets to be their Chief Strategy Officer, a position by its very title denotes incredible power. DePodesta, by all accounts, is a bright guy, so for a professional sports franchise to be interested shouldn’t be a shock.

DE PODESTA: Goes to Brown. (NBC)

DE PODESTA: Goes to Brown. (NBC)

But remember, DePodesta, who oversaw the Mets’ draft and player development departments, is also an “analytics” guy, which devalues the baseball manager. Football, however, is a different beast and coaches are supreme. Hell, the NFL even devotes an entire day – the Monday after the regular season is “Black Monday,” – for the mass firing of coaches.

The Browns, once a proud franchise relegated to an NFL doormat, took the early lead by firing head coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer after their loss to Pittsburgh Sunday. The Browns then promoted Sashi Brown to executive vice president of football operations.

Considering the power yielded by coaches and general managers in the NFL, it is odd the Browns would go to such unconventional means without those two key positions. Does this mean DePodesta has more power than the coach or GM? If so, aren’t the Browns limiting their pool of potential coaches and executives? That would seem the case. They appear to be limiting that pool for candidates who’ll take anything to be hired.

In that case, I am interested.

By hiring an analytics guy first, aren’t the Browns devaluing the coaching position? That could be the case. It will be very interesting to be in the Browns’ draft room to see the interaction between DePodesta, the coach and GM as they decide where to spend their first pick, and by extension, what to do with head case quarterback Johnny Manziel, who, listed OUT because of a concussion, was partying in Las Vegas on the eve of the season finale.

One thing also to consider, that in baseball there are three levels of minor leagues – and the ability to have multiple teams on the lower levels to develop players. Not so in the NFL, which for the most part has a “use him or lose him,” attitude with its players.

For example, the Mets bounced around Kirk Nieuwenhuis before losing him to waivers recently, and before him did the same with Dillon Gee. The pressure to use a player at the highest level can be averted for years.

How long ago did the Browns draft Manziel?

Yes. DePodesta has some fascinating decisions coming up.

Losing DePodesta, whose biggest contribution so far is Michael Conforto – that we know of – puts pressure on Sandy Alderson, who is battling cancer.

The Mets can give more power to assistants John Ricco and J.P. Ricciardi, and could also juggle within. Reportedly, Kevin Morgan will take over as minor league field coordinator.

There might be bumps, but I can see the Mets moving on without too  much difficulty. Meanwhile, 500 miles to the West, there could be a fascinating train wreck in the making in Cleveland.

 

Jan 04

Will Miss Kirk

The Milwaukee Brewers signed outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis off waivers, which pretty much says it all considering the Mets are searching for a left-handed hitter with the ability to play center field. I’ve always liked the 28-year-old Nieuwenhuis, but never thought he got a fair shake to show what he could do.

Over the past four years on the major league level, Nieuwenhuis (over 693 plate appearances) hit .232 with 40 doubles, three triples and 20 homers. Three of those homers came one afternoon last summer. Nieuwenhuis had several moments like the three-homer game, but clearly not enough that put him in favor with what the Mets want to do.

We’ve known all along Niewenhuis didn’t fit into the Mets’ plans, and with the acquisition of Alejandro De Azo he clearly became expendable.

Too bad.

 

Jan 03

Are Mets And Jets Kindred Spirits?

Watching the Jets kick away a playoff berth today, who didn’t make the statement: Same old Jets. Sure you did. I did, too.

JETS: Maybe next year.

JETS: Maybe next year.

At one point, when they shared Shea Stadium and the arms were Joe Namath and Tom Seaver, there as a distinguishable connection. There was that magical time when the Jets beat the Colts in Super Bowl III (47 years ago); the Mets beat the Orioles in the 1969 World Series; and for good measure, the Knicks won the NBA Championship. Since then the Jets haven’t returned to the Super Bowl and the Knicks have won one title and the Mets have won two titles.

OK, so not winning the Big One is a common denominator. So is a lack of leadership from up top, evidenced by poor spending or not spending at all.

However, watching the Jets today produced another common trait, that being to spit the bit.

In 2006 and 2007, the season came down to the final weekend, where by winning they were in. Both times they were outed by the Marlins. In 2006, we were treated by Tom Glavine‘s implosion, much like Ryan Fitzpatrick did today with three interceptions.

At least Fitzpatrick had a fourth quarter. Glavine didn’t make it out of the first, and things were complicated with semantics when the lefty said he wasn’t devastated. Mets fans never forgave him.

 

 

 

 

Jan 02

Did Mets Make Right Call On Cespedes?

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves

When last we checked, free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes not only had appeared on the radar of the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, but both teams had emerged as the frontrunners to sign the former New York Met juggernaut. That was three days ago.

However, we have a little more clarity on the Cespedes front as the calendar flips to 2016, and none of it is particularly good news for the free agent who bellowed his demands for a six-year deal three months ago.

To begin, it turns out that the Orioles – while interested – never had any intentions of coming close to the $150 million Cespedes and his representatives at Roc Nation had set their sights on. The two sides are reportedly not even in the same zip code.

And as for the other frontrunner on the south side of Chicago, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported today that their interest in Cespedes is limited to a deal for no more than three years.

Sound familiar? It should. Three years was the most Sandy Alderson and the Mets were willing to offer Cespedes according to what team sources told Jon Heyman, and that firm stance ultimately led to the end of any negotiations with Roc Nation. In fact, the conversation between the two sides never even advanced to the point of discussing dollars.

Now, I’m never one to defend the Mets’ frugal ways, however last week I raised the possibility that perhaps this was not a case of the Mets being cheap, but simply a smart baseball decision by a general manager who has never taken kindly to handing out second generation contracts to players on the wrong side of thirty. It’s possible isn’t it?

Those of you who have followed this site since its inception 12 years ago, know all too well that I am not the least bit squeamish about hammering the Wilpons every chance I get. But this feels different to me.

Oh. I’m sure there’s no doubt Fred and Jeff were doing Ralph Kramden’s version of the Watusi when they heard about Sandy’s stance on Cespedes. I’m just saying that this wasn’t a case of them pressuring their GM to back off, or applying those well-polished fiscal handcuffs. Maybe giving Cespedes a six year deal is just a terrible baseball decision for the Mets or any other MLB team.

Still, our poor Mets took a lot of flak upon the news of their three-year or nothing posture, with most of the incoming fire coming from their own fan base itself. Perhaps the Mets front office was being judged a little too harshly based on today’s rumblings on the Cespedes front. Perhaps the Mets may have even been a little ahead of the curve?

In an offseason fraught with spending madness and vast ungodly sums of dollars being thrown about with such reckless abandon, maybe on this one occasion Sandy Alderson and John Ricco were being the adults in the room? It’s possible, isn’t it?

Anyway, there it is… My first article of 2016 is in the books and whether you agree or not, I hope I gave you something to think about. Happy New Year, my friends.

Jan 02

My 2016 Hall of Fame Ballot

griffey piazza

I had intended to publicize my Official Hall of Fame ballot before Christmas, but some health issues prevented me from proceeding as planned. So here it is, without further adieu, the nine players I submitted for the Class of 2016.

1. Ken Griffey Jr. – One of the greatest players of all time and a great ambassador for the game. Staggering offensive numbers despite missing four seasons worth of games due to injuries. If healthy, he would have broken Aaron’s HR mark cleanly.

2. Trevor Hoffman – An amazing 601 saves. Put Hoffman on all those great Yankee teams and they still win all those games. When he entered a game to “Hell’s Bells” it was a spectacle.

3. Mike Piazza – It’s sad that he wasn’t a first ballot guy because some colleagues bought into unfounded rumors and accusations. One of the game’s greatest offensive catchers along with Bench and Berra who almost always delivered in the clutch.

4. Jeff Bagwell – Another no-doubt Hall of Famer who like Piazza has been victimized by suspicion. One of the most dominating first basemen in his era and for a time one of the most feared sluggers in the National League.

5. Lee Smith – He was a personal favorite of mine. I still fail to understand the criticism of people who say he’s a compiler of stats. He was a dominant closer and nearly missed winning three Cy Young awards.

6. Mike Mussina – Very underrated pitcher who won 270 games despite only winning 20 games once – in his final season in 2008. Talk about going out on top. A .638 winning percentage and a career 1.191 WHIP to go with seven Gold Gloves.

7. Edgar Martinez – Some penalize him because he was a DH, but 500+ doubles, 300+ homers, 1,200_ walks, 1,200+ RBI and a career .312/.418/.515 slash should make him a no-brainer for inclusion.

8. Fred McGriff – Just shy of 500 home runs and over 1,500 RBI back when it was still a rare feat. Nine seasons of over 140 OPS+ production and a .917 OPS in postseason play.

9. Tim Raines – One of the best leadoff hitters of all time. The Rock retired with a .385 OBP, 808 stolen bases and 1,571 runs scored.

There you go, I look forward to your comments.