Jan 08

How Cespedes Can Fall Back To Mets

I’ve written several times I don’t think the Mets should go after Yoenis Cespedes. I still don’t if he’s holding at the reported price of $150 million over six years. If he won’t budge from those numbers, there’s no reason for the Mets to consider him.

However, there is a way for Cespedes to return, and that’s for the Mets to do nothing and let the market come back to them. That’s right, let everybody else get plucked up. Neither Alex Gordon or Daniel Murphy got what they hoped and Cespedes was over-pricing himself anyway.

The longer the offseason drags on and the market dwindles – and the Mets don’t acquire a center fielder – then the odds should increase the team could reconsider Cespedes. However, it shouldn’t be for more than a $100 million.

The market is about timing and this is no different. I believe the Mets should be more aggressive in certain areas, but jumping in for Cespedes isn’t one of them. If the market comes back to them in a big way, then he’s worth a shot.

 

 

 

Jan 06

Writers Do Right By Piazza

Finally. The Baseball Writers Association of America did right today by putting slugging catcher Mike Piazza into the Hall of Fame along with Ken Griffey. As far as I’m concerned my colleagues also got it right by keeping PED cheaters Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa out. I also think the writers whiffed with Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Mike Mussina.

Piazza, who fell 28 votes shy last year, received 365 votes for 83 percent of those cast to go in as history’s top home run hitting catcher and is arguably one of the top three of all time at the position along with Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra.

PIAZZA and SEAVER: The Mets' best. (AP)

PIAZZA and SEAVER: The Mets’ best. (AP)

“It’s the first time in a long time I’ve been speechless,” Piazza told the MLB Network. “Nothing can prepare you when you do get that call. It’s just something you can’t describe. …To be in an institution such as the Hall of Fame, is an amazing honor.”

Not surprisingly, Piazza mentioned his home run against Atlanta following 9-11 as a milestone memory.

“Obviously, a lot of people remember the home run in the first game after 9/11,” Piazza said. “When I think back now I start to get emotional. … From the first day in New York to the great teams we had in the late-90s, early 2000s was just very special.”

While the post 9-11 homer was clearly emotional, another memory came during the 2000 season when the Yankees’ Clemens beaned him, and then during the World Series – perhaps in a fit of Roid Rage – threw part of Piazza’s broken bat at him.

Piazza fell short in his previous three chances on the ballot because of the suspicion of PED use. But, other than a few busy-body writers talking about his back acne, Piazza never failed a drug test, did not appear on the Mitchell Report findings and never had another player accusing him on the record.

The same could not be said about Bonds, Clemens, McGwire and Sosa.

Because there was never any doubt he played cleanly, it was speculated Griffey would become the first unanimous selection, but inexplicably there were three writers who did not vote for Griffey. Presumably, their twisted line of thinking was there should not be a unanimous selection.

Normally I defend my colleagues, but not this time. While I don’t agree with those who vote for the PED users, there is no defending their logic. They got it right with Piazza, but these three voters hurt the BBWAA. Even so, Griffey went in with the highest percent of the vote to pass Seaver.

What remains for Piazza is the decision as to what cap he’ll go in with – the Hall says it should be where the player “made his biggest mark,” and that probably will be the Dodgers, and when the Mets will retire his number.

There should be not a matter of “if” Piazza’s No. 31 will be honored.

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.